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rethink birth part 10 - genuine postpartum help
A lot of expecting families prepare so much for their pregnancy, and make sure to collect up all the essential baby items for once their little one arrives - but often, not a lot of preparation is made for the postpartum period, those first 4 months where everything is new and tender - both mama and baby!
Postpartum is really given short shrift in the US, and it’s a terrible shame. The MotherBaby is really one entity in the beginning, and even tho their bodies may appear physically separate - in fact they are deeply intertwined through breastfeeding, hormonal shifts, and even their breathing patterns.
This time is sacred - and it’s also supremely challenging - especially if you don’t have the proper help to rely upon as a new family.
Enlist the help of people whom you can really count on. This might look like a grandparent or auntie coming to stay, or hiring postpartum doulas, or at very least, making sure that your partner and you are not feeling pressured to go back to work as soon as humanly possible.
6 weeks is the standard maternity leave in the US, and it’s appalling.
Did you know that mother dogs are not legally allowed to be separated from their puppies (for sale as pets) until they are 14 weeks of age in many states, because this is viewed as animal cruelty to separate a nursing pup from its mother too early—?
Human babies don’t enjoy the same protections…but I digress.
Birth isn’t meant to be done alone - and the postpartum period isn’t either. Our culture doesn’t encourage supportive, loving traditions to take care of a pregnant mama or a new mama - so I urge you to create your own traditions!
Hire a doula whose birth and mothering philosophies are similar to your own, and who has had experience with the type of birth and postpartum you desire.
Use your intuition here, and don't choose someone who’s got great credentials, but you just don't “click with”, for whatever reason. If you think you can't afford a doula, please start researching. Even one day of help per week can make a world of difference in your mental and emotional wellbeing in the tender first few months.
Make phone calls, ask questions. They'll most likely be happy to help you. Many doulas (and other birth professionals) offer payment plans - and some offer military or deployed spouse discounts.
Some doulas specialize in labor support, while others specialize in postpartum assistance. Join some local moms’ groups online, and put the word out that you're looking for a doula and/or some in-home postpartum support.
There are postpartum pros that specialize in healing nutrition and will come cook in your home, show you a new trick for getting baby to burp after a feed, and they’ll teach you how to use your wrap carrier too.
One wonderful thing about women who work with new moms and families is, a great many of them genuinely adore their work and love helping new moms and families. It's been my experience that many professions associated with holistic living and birth tend to attract uncommonly compassionate people.
The days and weeks immediately following your birth are what many call the “4th trimester”, to denote the special time of extended closeness that the motherbaby are meant to experience.
This is your first time together as a new family, and it’s better if it’s not overly filled with visits or extended stays of relatives and friends. It’s challenging enough to be fully present in your postpartum, witnessing your body’s many shifts and changes, learning new skills like breastfeeding and newborn care … and this unfolds best as a time of quiet and intimacy for new families.
Now, many new moms appreciate having a family member or two around to help in the early days - so long as they are genuinely able and willing to be helpful, without making any of you feel uncomfortable or put upon!
This can be excellent, or it can devolve into frustration and resentment, depending on your relative/friend and the level of openness you have with them.
You and your partner should feel perfectly comfortable to just be with your baby and each other, and not have any added pressures during the sacred window of your first 40 days, at the very least.
Your baby will never be 6 or 26 days old again. EnJOY this time as a new family!