When I returned home after the birth of my daughter it was 6 or so hours after she was born and after a stop on the way for a kebab for my husband. I had already gorged on sushi 😊
Her birth was intense, but pretty close to the experience I was hoping for: I was in tune and in control. This was a far cry from the birth of my son 18 months earlier, which, when I allow myself to think about it falls well into the category of traumatic.
But this is not a birth story. It is more of a ‘plan ahead’ story because all major events require planning to be successful.
Like when I wanted to study at University, I made enquiries to find the best provider of the course I was interested in doing. Like when I needed to move house, and searched around to find the cheapest rent but also on the bus route because I didn’t have a car to get to work (but when I could I bought a 1983 Holden!).
And maybe you can relate – many months go into planning a wedding, weeks go into planning an interstate or overseas holiday, or even Christmas lunch for all the family requires significant thought and planning.
So why don’t we, as a society, put more effort (or even just more thought) into planning a comfortable transition for new mums? That is, that period after birth with a newborn. The postpartum period. The fourth trimester. That time of huge change for a mum whether a first timer or not, when she has run the equivalent of a marathon, hormones are swinging back and forth trying to find their new equilibrium, her body is healing, her boobs are trying to make lots of milk, her sleep patterns have no routine, and her ‘baby brain’ now has the capacity of a sieve.
Instead, we bombard her with ‘when can I come and see the baby’.
And while modern day culture may have new mums believing they should reach for the diary and lock it in, the reality is this probably feels wrong and goes completely against all instincts! Requests from friends and family to come and see the baby need to take a back seat, as your needs, and your baby’s needs must take priority. Unless of course they are coming over to clean and cook for you while you sleep!
I would like to see a change where we text new mum’s to say we just left a casserole at the front door. That when visitors are invited they make a point of offering to water the pot plants or walk the dog instead of just ‘oooing’ and ‘aahhhhiiing’ over the baby while mum is trying to breastfeed. That they make her a cuppa and bring her a snack before sitting down to chat.
I would like to see new mum’s acknowledged and supported. When mum is supported, the whole family benefits.
In short, as a postpartum doula if there is one thing I want you to take away from this article it is this: ASK. FOR. HELP.
And that help could come in many forms. Is it a cleaner? Daycare for your toddler? Takeaway dinner 3 times a week? A meal train? A dog walker? Redefining some roles in the household for a few months? The possibilities and combinations are many and could be paid or unpaid. As a postpartum doula I want you to know you should not be expected to do it all and that it is ok to ask for help. ASK! ASK! ASK!