By Anita Dobre (Yogateacher, pre & postnatal Doula & Masseuse).
Entering motherhood is a transition like no other. It is to become a full-time caretaker and a nurturer. At the same time both mother and baby are fragile and sensitive. Most often we acknowledge the sensitivity of the baby, but we tend to forget about ourselves, how open and vulnerable we are after giving birth.
In my life, I have learned my lessons and those lessons were not easy. I had severe anxiety eight years after giving a birth. The anxiety was there already at the very beginning, I just didn’t know, or didn’t give myself the time to recognize it. Years went by and it got worse and worse…
About 8 years after the birth of my first daughter Katrina I was in a very bad condition, I didn’t trust myself, I was afraid to leave the livelihood of my home, afraid to travel, afraid of dogs… the list goes on. I wouldn’t even drive a car anymore. I felt insecure, like I had lost all control over my life and myself.
It took me many years but I finally realized that something was wrong and I had to do something about it. I was in need for healing. It was a very interesting and long process, but through the research of my own life, the habits, the way I treat myself and others around me, I found the origins of the problem: It was the period after birth in which I had not received sufficient postpartum care or more likely NO care at all. This had brought me to that point where I felt so lost and insecure, in fact I had become ill.
After the tremendous task of being pregnant and giving birth, becoming physically, emotionally and mentally whole again was quite a process that took much time and work. I was so lucky to find strength, enthusiasm and interest in self healing and I did different types of healing – shamanic, Ayurveda, yoga, breathing, meditation. I did a lot but in the end, it was the love and appreciation towards myself that made the biggest difference. I had found the time to heal my body and my soul.
I allowed myself to have a bath for more than just five minutes. I made sure that there was time for a proper, warm dinner. I found the time to sleep and stop myself from overdoing things. The healing was taking care of myself and listening to my body. It was as simple (and as difficult!) as that.
Now, after all those years of studying, researching myself, my friends and other women in different life transitions, I believe that we can all heal ourselves. There are several things that are very important in this period after giving birth; the postpartum period. It is also called the 4th trimester (40 days after giving a birth) as continuation to our conception, pregnancy and birth.
In some traditional countries, the new mother is still taken care of by a whole team of women who provide afterbirth support by cooking warm meals, using healing herbs, giving warm oil massages and doing other well being practices. From my own experience back then, I felt like I didn’t need any help and I could do everything by myself. I was THAT proud woman, who could deal with everything by herself and I wouldn’t accept support. Instead, only days after I had given a birth, I felt like I had to treat everyone else, my family and friends, when they came over to meet my newborn daughter. And that is where it all happened, my body was depleted, my mind was insecure and I kept going on as if nothing had happened, increasing my insecurity and illness by the day.
Today, I am healthy and well, but I feel sad to see the same patterns in other women’s afterbirth care. We are missing out on that beautiful connection between generations where elderly women would sit by the fire and share their wisdom with the younger ones. We have lost the traditions that would be passed on and teach us how to take care of ourselves and accept the support from other women around us.
I wish for you to have “elderly woman” around you, to share the knowledge and experience and to support your after-birth healing. They could tell you about the postpartum process and the importance of those first 40 days after giving a birth. Trust me, not addressing that special time accordingly could have an impact for the rest of your life, and not only your own, but also our family’s life. My motto is: ”Happy mama, happy baby, happy rest of family”. So, lets gather together and have a cup of tea, to share and inspire each other.
Namasté, Anita Dobre.
PS. Doula Paulina geeft bij ons de speciale Postpartum Prep workshop om je goed voor te bereiden op de periode na de geboorte van je kindje. Dit kan helpen om niet alleen voor je kindje maar ook voor jezelf als moeder de beste start te maken! Meer info.