Have you given much thought to your postnatal recovery?
Like most first time mums, I spent a lot of time thinking about the birth, and when I say ‘thinking’ what I actually mean is worrying about what could go wrong and how I wasn’t going to cope. I threw myself into Hypnobirthing to navigate this fear and started to feel excited about the birth which was great.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my friends threw me a baby shower at the coolest brunch spot and I dropped some hints about the all black changing bag I wanted (black so it didn’t clash with any of my outfits or the buggy).
The girls at my work organised a karaoke leaving do and presented me with cute outfits and shoes for my imminent arrival.
I was so grateful for all of their kindness.
I had read lots of books, bought lots of things and all those years of festival going and ‘all-nighters’ had left me feeling pretty confident that I could deal with the sleepless nights (in case you are wondering that’s
Honestly, aside from taking a short breastfeeding workshop and stockpiling the freezer, I really hadn’t given much thought to postnatal recovery or life with a new baby.
After the big day
When he arrived on planet earth, there were some amazing moments of heart bursting happiness but there was so much I wasn’t ready for.
I wasn’t ready for the fact that I couldn’t walk normally for a few weeks. Even after a relatively straightforward birth.
I wasn’t ready for the massive shift in my postnatal hormones that caused me to feel all kinds of crazy after a few days, this coinciding with a 2-night hospital stay for my newborn.
I wasn’t ready for the postnatal bleeding that carried on for 6 weeks after the birth.
I wasn’t ready for all of the laundry and washing up that came along with a new baby and being in the house all the time.
And I was certainly not ready for the time, energy and guilt that went along with learning how to feed my baby and my struggle with breastfeeding.
And it was hard, really bloody hard.
It was amazing to have my partner in crime by my side in those first 2 weeks. When he went back to work, without family nearby, the days were long and often stressful.
I needed to focus on rest, recovery and getting to know this tiny human we had created but it wasn’t always the case.
The path to motherhood was paved with lessons for me, during pregnancy and in those first postnatal few months. This was a new chapter in my life and I came out of the other side of those first bleary-eyed few months with a passion to support other mothers on their journey from pregnancy onwards.
The recent stats that were shared during the recent maternal mental health week made for grim reading. It breaks my heart that so many women are suffering. I had my own battle with anxiety which really flared up in those first few months as a new mother.
Slowly but surely the narrative is starting to change and we are talking more openly about mental health issues. But it’s not enough to say what’s going wrong We need to talk about how to fix it.
There was a meme which was shared over and over on my Instagram.
‘’ Everyone wants to hold the baby but who is going to hold the mother ‘’
That resonated so much with me.
What if all the time and energy we spent on mum to be In the last few weeks of her pregnancy was instead put toward supporting new parents when they need it most emotionally and physically in the first few weeks.
What if the preparation for baby didn’t end with the birth itself and we spent time preparing for motherhood.
What if we started to give more time, energy and support to new mums who are literally raising the future.
As much as a believe society needs to up its game, I think we can all take ownership for this during pregnancy too. There is a lot of value that comes from a simple postnatal plan for you and your partner.
The postnatal party
Throwing a postnatal party instead of a baby shower is a great way to set yourself up for a smoother transition to motherhood. Whether one of your best friends helps you out or you get on the case yourself with the party planning
Think of your party like a six-week festival rather than a 24-hour session
You can invite your ‘guest list’ aka your closest friends and family to help you in those first few weeks. Basically, anyone who would come to a baby shower can come to your postnatal party
Your postnatal party can involve
- Dropping off some home cooked food or sending vouchers for a healthy meal delivery service
- Helping out with chores around the house when they come to visit.
- Holding the baby while you take a nap or a shower or grab a bite to eat
- Having a list of
- Booking a massage or treatment in your home (while your partner is there to hold the baby
- Someone helping out with school runs or watching older kids
- Walking the dog for you
These are just some suggestions but honestly, it’s your party so do what you like.
Are you comfortable asking for help? If the answer is NO way then I totally get it!
For years we have had to fight for equality. We have been sold the story of the modern, independent woman who can have it ALL. we feel like asking for help is weak or a sign that we can’t cope when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Unfortunately, our reproductive system hasn’t caught up with 21st-century feminism.
Leaning into vulnerability
Asking for help requires for you to feel comfortable in feeling vulnerable. And that might not be easy.
Flex that muscle during pregnancy. Ask for that seat on the train. Let someone carry a bag for you. It’s ok not to do everything on your own.
If you truly don’t feel comfortable asking friends for help or perhaps you live away from them. How do you feel about suggesting that instead of gifts for the baby, they put money towards a postnatal Doula, or a cleaner to help around the house? This way you can focus on your own recovery and the well-being of your little one.
As with many cliche sayings. There is some truth in the saying it takes a village to raise a child. I might coin my own phrase – It takes a postnatal party to celebrate a mother!
Thanks for reading this blog and please feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit from reading it too.