Preparing for the reality of post–partum and your transition into motherhood
By Alita Blanchard
Early motherhood can be a shock to the system. Birth doesn’t always go to plan. There are sleepless nights, crying (often from baby and mama) and a rollercoaster of emotions that new parents often aren’t prepared for. Then there is the onslaught of advice, the frictions that might arise and perhaps the preconceived plans for a happy newborn phase that sometimes does not eventuate.
There is no denying that a baby arriving is a gift and often the greatest moment of every parent’s life. We also need to talk more about the realities of new motherhood. Mothers can get left behind, unseen and unsupported, in their vital new role as mother.
Motherhood changes you – it’s your ‘Matrescence’
Mothers in our society are expected to birth a baby and then return, as quickly as possible, to looking, feeling, and behaving like their ‘old self’ or ‘normal’. We feel this pressure from the outside world, and we’ve been conditioned to believe it too.
Fortunately, this is changing. Women are realising that ‘snapping back’ is neither possible nor something we want for ourselves. We are remembering that this transformation from Maiden to Mother is a rite of passage. And what exactly is that?
Going through a rite of passage means there is no going back to our old self. There is no return to normal. Because the whole point of a rite of passage is deep change, transformation and growth.
In becoming a mother, you are entering a new season of your life.
There will be new challenges. New values. So much new learning. Your body will change – in all the more obvious ways but did you know even your brain is majorly up levelled in pregnancy, creating new brain pathways? You might experience super smell, more sensitive taste, more advanced social reasoning, emotional intelligence and even general intelligence.
We need to change the mainstream stories around Motherhood to honour the physical, emotional, relational, and often spiritual transformations that women experience. To find ways to honour mothers and their needs. Let’s start, for example, with the basic needs of a new mother for adequate support and rest, which so many women are not receiving.
To make the bigger society–level changes, we must start by looking within, at our own core beliefs around the value of motherhood.
Pregnancy: research and get prepared
A new pregnancy often comes with a busy focus on researching and buying the ‘right’ pram, cot, nursery decorations, baby clothes and baby showers. And we might focus a lot on labour and birth, without also ‘rehearsing’ the weeks that will follow.
How would our society and the conversation about motherhood be different, if we could enjoy these activities, but also put time and energy into a different sort of ‘nesting’?
Here are some of the most vital considerations for early post–partum that will set mother and baby up for a nurtured and connected transition to motherhood:
- Mothers learning to ask for help, to set boundaries, to share their feelings, and communicate their needs.
- Knowing in advance what support systems you can draw upon.
- Planning for a ‘birth debrief’ conversation and non–judgemental, non–advice–giving ‘listening time’ with trusted people.
- Deciding how you will maintain your access to nourishing warming foods for healing – whether ‘in house’ or with external help.
- Adequate rest is central to our emotional and physical well being, so rest comes before housework, social time and other things that can wait.
- Practising radical self care – what does this look like for you?
- Surrender and self–compassion practices – knowing you can’t control it all, and being able to love yourself through the highs and lows.
- Realistic expectations for newborn behaviour – sleep, crying, breastfeeding and more.
- Anticipating pelvic floor and body changes after birth. Learn about the spectrum of possible changes, and what your body needs to repair itself, so that you can honour the stages of healing.
- Building a movement practice that you can take into post-partum – gentle, low–impact exercise like walking and yoga.
- Prevention of postnatal depletion – do you want to know about using herbs and minerals for healing?
- Hormone fluctuations and how this impacts mood, libido, appetite.
- Normalising feelings like sadness, grief, anger and more.
- How to find support for postnatal anxiety / depression – what forms this can take.
- Consulting with post–partum specialists like midwives, doulas, postnatal physios, naturopaths, movement instructors, counsellors, etc and where to locate individuals with the right qualifications to help.
Mothers need to be just as supported as the baby – for the well being of the child and the family unit, the mother must be well. To be truly well, we must learn to prioritise post–partum support.
A collaboration of integrative women’s health specialists, bringing you information and practices to support your empowered pregnancy and post–partum. Weaving together strands from women’s health physiotherapy, clinical naturopathy, pre and postnatal yoga, and parenting education, Under the Redgum will be a place of safety, learning, inspiration and solidarity for new and experienced mothers.
Alita Blanchard helps mothers lessen the guilt and shame, release healthy anger, meet their own needs and build capacity for listening to their children’s feelings so they can feel more connected to themselves and their children. She creates a supportive space for mothers to feel heard and seen in the intensity of their motherhood journey. Alita is a mother of 4 young boys (including a stillborn son Remy) on the NSW Central Coast. She is a trauma informed Conscious Parent Coach and Women’s Circle facilitator. She provides regular mothers circles, events, listening time and parent coaching programs – online and in person. www.theawaremama.com.au Socials: @alitablanchardspace Email firstname.lastname@example.org