Time for a post partum revolution!
Post partum queen
Four years ago, my second son was born. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted those first weeks to go differently than they had after my first birth several years prior.
Being pregnant and giving birth, has a massive impact on a woman’s body and mind, the hormonal shifts are immense and your body needs recovery time. A soft landing became my goal. And so it happened that I made a plan, put my wishes down on paper, wrote a long letter to my husband, mobilised my entire network to take care of me and my toddler. Used the money we had set aside for vacation for that year, for a post partum vacation. That was most important.
I would allow myself to be pampered. Massages, warm meals, and a lot of TLC. Blood, sweat and post partum tears, to let it all flow and be. I would let myself be and feel like a post partum queen. Really get to the point of feeling worthy of being treated exceptionally well at this intense period of recovery. A concept entirely out of my comfort zone, which looks mostly like a lot self-sufficiency, not asking for help, and solving things myself and much rather helping others rather than being helped/supported. Safe and comfortable, but not enough. I learned that lesson the hard way the first time around. I knew, I have a family now that needs a healthy and sane mother. I myself, my physical and emotional wellbeing are important. They matter. My recovery became priority. And what a difference it has made, I felt held, and so good and grounded afterwards. It was a night and day experience with my first experience.
The birth of a mother
When I was about to become a mother 8 years ago, in pregnancy I hadn’t thought a lot about the post partum period much at all. With me probably a lot, if not most modern pregnant women. It’s really not really part of our system to do so. It’s not hip enough for the magazines and if anything post partum or new motherhood makes the pages. The representation is hardly realistic, the Mums look virtually the same as they did before, only now they are holding a baby on their hip.. Not a lot is mentioned about recovery time, healing and the entire process of becoming a mother.
During pregnancy the birth is a big life event which you live towards and prepare for. You make sure you have all of the things for the baby and once the baby arrives (here in the Netherlands) the kraamverzorgster will come and she will explain everything and help you along. And THEN? A big unknown. A period myself and many with me assumed things would just sort themselves out. It didn’t quite go that way for me, it was intense, and extremely lonely and overwhelming. I felt like Bambi on the ice. Insecure, vulnerable and most of all alone in this whole process. The visitors that came, with all of their loving intentions, came mostly to see the baby, they brought large Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals and clothing which often already didn’t fit my son and then left. The question how I was doing, came between the conversation and crumbs of the bisquits I had served them, so it didn’t really feel like there was space for the answer to be “I’m actually not doing so well”.
That the post partum period and entire child bearing year is a birthing process in itself, is something that nobody had told me, and that I never realised it to be. The huge identify shift and physical and mental recovery that takes place is huge. You birth the mother in yourself during this time, especially with a first baby, but each subsequent one as well. You bring forth new life and transform in the process yourself. What If we all look at it like that, and really acknowledged it as well. We would put new born mothers wellbeing at the centre, and prioritise it! And also put value on the preparation for this period.
This is why the birth of a mother, the post partum period needs as much attention, loving softness as the birth of a baby. It is a time in which bonding and recovery should be central, discovering each other as a new family. Resting and letting yourself be nourished on all levels is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Our culture seems to send the message that this apparently is somehow less important. We are quick to return to how things were. Meanwhile it is an undeniable change, a powerful transformation to a new you. A mother.
This is why I call for a post partum revolution! Women deserve this, their children, the famiy’s they are part of, they are the future. A good start of a woman as a mother, beginning with birth, makes all the difference. Around the world you see traditions from various cultures, from India acourding to the Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine, from Marocco to Mexico, all have an advised extended resting period of 40-42 days after the birth, during which the new mother is mostly on bed rest, is cared for, kept warm, nourished with warm nutritious meals and surrounded by loving energy all the while she takes care and feeds her new born. And to celebrate the end of the extended resting period, rituals are set in place to mark the right of passage. Such as the beautiful “rebozo closing of the bones ceremony” from Mexico Cerrada tradition. The community plays huge role in this transitional rights of passage as well. They welcome the new mother as she makes her first steps into the world.
From a strong fundament a strong mother and father grow. It is an investment in yourself, your energy supply, vitality and a good recover for mother and baby. Acourding to the Ayurveda a fundament that is even laid for the coming 40 years. “40 days for 40 years” walking through a good post partum experience to a good menopause, reaping the benefits so many years later. From Maiden to Mother, from Mother to Crone.
Preperation for a 40 days long resting period
Last May I started giving the Post Partum Prep workshop at Studio Vandaan.
In it I tell women, what I, 8 years ago, would have so wanted to know as well as what I have experienced myself and learned and also what I have learned supporting clients in this period as a post partum doula. And how they can make life easier for themselves, or actually how their community can facilitate this happening, in this transitional period. An easier start, a soft landing. That’s how the revolution will happen, if we change mindsets of the community around us, starting with ourselves. This is also why I share my own story with you.
A way to make things easier to prepare and process, is to in your pregnancy write down a post partum plan. A post partum plan, much like a birth plan is a 1-2 A4 page document in which your wishes are described and I like with a birth plan, the process of informing oneself is just as important as the plan itsel; getting familiar with all your options and putting it all down and envisioning how you would like this time to look. There are so many options regarding care, food, movement and recovery. Bringing it all together and looking at what you need, who you are, what nourishes you, who makes you happy, what takes your energy. It’s all incredibly important. All in order for your post partum to feel like a part, in which you are celebrated and welcomed into motherhood.
Think about all these things,before your baby is born. Think about how you want to organise it all. Do you for instance want a post partum doula for physical and mental support after the kraamverzorgster leaves, would you like a masseuse to come to your home, will you want your friends to come over and bring you food instead of baby clothes? Would you want a post partum yoga class at home? How do you make sure you rest enough? Who is going to be there to help you? Your partner plays a huge role in all of this and supporting you. But don’t forget to leave some space for him to enjoy his soft landing into new fatherhood as well.
So go for it! Plan, and celebrate yourself. You only get a so many post partum periods in your life, they deserve to be sacred and honoured, as you do. You will thank your future self for it, I promise.
Here you will find all the information and planned dates of Paulina’s Post partum Prep Workshop