A lot has been said and written about pregnancy, whilst the topic of postpartum is much less talked about. I’d like to share a few thoughts on this so-called fourth trimester as it was one of the most challenging experiences in my life. Although I did prepare for it through reading, by consulting my friends and a doula, I still wasn’t prepared for that level of exhaustion, hormonal rollercoaster and overwhelm. Nor was I for the amount of pure, mind-boggling Love. With your baby your new Self is born too. You are now providing for another Earthling who has his own mission on the Earth and has chosen you as his Mom. A lot of my questions about purpose, career, life’s meaning have come up again and been answered or looked upon from a different perspective. But that’s a different blog :-)
Most of the ancient cultures had very specific practices to ensure that mothers made a full recovery from childbirth. There have been centuries of very deliberate practices in nutritional recovery, spiritual cleansing, and protection as well as elaborate social supports, especially in the first 40 days after the birth. In the words of Dr. Oscar Serrallach, MD, who specializes in family medicine and did a great deal of research on postnatal depletion ancient cultures have made the realization that Western society unfortunately has not: “For society to be well and prosper, the mothers must be fully supported and healthy—in every sense of the word. There is plenty of prenatal support,” he explains, “but as soon as a baby is born, the whole focus goes to the baby. There’s very little focus on the mother. The mother disappears into the shadows of her role.”
The result is depletion, foggy brain, inability to concentrate, poor memory, and emotional instability, crying for no reason, feelings of isolation, vulnerability, and of not being “good enough.” Especially if you have children later in your life, end thirties or beginning forties as I did. I surely experienced and today 3 months postpartum still am experiencing all of the above sometimes.
It is important to understand that postnatal recovery isn’t about reclaiming the body you had before or loosing weight. Some women shed weight easily, some take longer. Some have been working out for years, some never have. Every body is built differently and every body is a miracle for itself. Every body has a different pace at which it heals. We need to respect that otherwise we’ll end up in endless frustration. This time is much more profound and offers precious opportunities for growth. It is about fully accepting your new role as a mother, keeping you strong and balanced in your body and mind as to be able to deal gracefully with this new chapter of your life.
Knowing what will nourish your physical and emotional body, your hormones and your soul + getting the support from your friends and family, discussing your relationship openly and in a constructive way with your partner is an imperative as not to get sick or develop long term depression. Some baby blues will be there for sure as a result of hormonal fluctuation, so if you have a history of depression or mood swings you want to take extra care.
Once again, postpartum recovery is not about chasing an image from a glossy magazine. It is about finding the way to your optimal health and the most confident, most relaxed version of yourself in order to deal with the challenges of everyday life as a mother and a citizen of this hurried world we live in. I would like to emphasize the importance of a healthy diet, self care, moderate yoga or any other exercise, prayer and meditation and how this can contribute to your overall wellbeing and particularly mental health. That’s nothing less than making this world a better place! To read my practical tips for postnatal recovery + more resources please click here: