Why wouldn't it?
You’ve just birthed a baby from your body! You’re a superstar, right? Of course you are, but does that mean you’re treated as such once you’ve done all that hard work and it’s time to rest, heal and bond with your new bundle of joy? Well, no, not necessarily.
We live in a society that is obsessed with productivity, that values money and work above all else
So where does a newly postpartum person who needs comfort, safety, time, support and reassurance fit into the patriarchal world we live in? Short answer - they don’t!
You'll be pleased to know that here at The Postnatal Doula we don’t care what society says, we know that postpartum matters, we know you should have all the support and resources you need to thrive in your immediate postnatal period and beyond, we’re passionate about providing it for you.
When we think about postpartum life, most postpartum professionals like myself focus mostly on the fourth trimester, the immediate 12 weeks after your baby is born.
The Fourth Trimester - What is it and why is it important?
Even though some cultures have been observing the fourth trimester for hundreds of years, the term is relatively new, and was coined by a paediatrician named Harvey Kemp in 2002 (The western world has a habit of repackaging and reselling ancient customs).
It was named as such to encourage people to think of it as part of their gestational period, allowing them the opportunity to help their newborn adjust to the outside world by mimicking life inside the womb. It might seem really strange to read, but if you think about it, your baby has gone from living in a sack of warm fluid, that's housed in a small, dark environment, where they can hear all of your bodily functions and smell you all the time, to a large, dry, space where they can be separated from you at any point and have no idea when you’ll return - they can’t hear your heartbeat or smell your smell, sound varies depending on the time of day/night, they get hungry now - wtf is hunger? Scary right?
And let’s not forget about you! You’re sore, and tired, you may have had abdominal surgery or a tear that needed stitching, you’re leaking fluids from all sorts of body parts and your hormones are on a rollercoaster. Not to mention there's a human you have to keep alive!
O.K so that’s all well and good, but how do you actually survive nevermind thrive?
Let’s break it down a little bit -
What does your baby need?
Your baby needs you, you are their safe space, their food source, their everything. Human babies are carry mammals - think kangaroos! They are helpless and need their parents to survive. They have to learn how to regulate their breathing, their temperatures, their food intake. One of the most important things you can do to help them with this is skin to skin contact, cuddle that naked baby as much as you can, and when you can’t ask your partner to do it.
They will need to feed often, sometimes for small periods of time, sometimes continuously for hours, this can be totally normal. They’re regulating your milk supply and adapting to their changing needs. Feeding is a new skill, they need to learn how to do it.
They will not want to be away from you, even at night. This is a survival technique, they don’t want some scary tiger to come and eat them (yes you read that right). Babies don’t know that we have evolved and no longer live in caves amongst the rest of the animal kingdom.
What do you need?
Rest! You have just done something HUGE and now your body and mind needs to recover. You will need to heal and adjust. You will need support and safety. You will need to be held and fed.
That all sounds amazing right? But how is it possible when your baby needs you for all of the things I’ve just reeled off?
Planning for Postpartum
Getting informed and having a plan, a bit like birth really. Having a postnatal plan will give you the space and the confidence to care for your baby in the way that they need, while also caring for yourself. Think about who is supporting you.
What type of support do you need? Maybe help with light chores, or food shopping. Possibly food parcels or laundry. Do you have a person or people who you can talk to without judgement? What’s important to you? Do you know where to go for feeding support? Or mental health support? Or even holistic healing? Is there a women's health physio in your area? Or a Lactation consultant or a sling library?
Being aware of these things before you have your baby takes the stress out of finding them when or if you need them once they arrive.
Have you thought about hiring a postnatal doula? It can be a bit strange asking family and friends for support, especially things like hoovering or washing up. You might not want to reach out to them if you’re struggling. They may not have the same parenting style as you or made the same decisions you have.
This is where a postnatal doula comes in. We don’t judge, we meet you where you are and support you with what you need, we have vast amounts of knowledge and lots of contacts for when we don’t know the answers. We can help you learn to care for your baby, but we care for you. You are who we support, you are what matters, you’re our priority.
So why does postpartum matter? Because you matter!
Interested in finding out more about how a postnatal doula can support you? Book a free 30minute call with me to chat!