The postpartum period, often referred as the fourth trimester or
puerperium, or postnatal period is the first six weeks after childbirth.
Why do some women experience postpartum blues and what are the contributing factors?
Ruling out clinically diagnosed depression, after childbirth, many women develop a certain degree of “postpartum blues”. A mother who overlooks arranging postpartum help could be at risk. There are few factors which contribute to her melancholy. Hormonal changes, lack of rest/sleep, toddlers and children who still needs mama’s attention, skipping meals, loss of excess blood during childbirth and being alone can contribute to her feelings of being overwhelmed and weepy. There is this myth that women have to be superwomen and don’t need help until they realize that they do.
What concerns/worries do postpartum mothers experience?
This is especially so if it is her first experience. Learning how to properly hold a baby and making certain that the baby is latching on properly can be challenging all in itself.
Nipples and breast care can also be a challenge if the mother is experiencing cracked, sore or bleeding nipples. Engorged breast need to be monitored to make certain she does not develop mastitis (breast infection) and having plenty of warm milk producing tea and water for a good milk supply is important.
Battered Yoni & Bruised Bottom
If the new mother had an episiotomy or tear, caring for her stitches requires her attention. Sometimes mothers experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy and or after giving birth. Making the time to prepare and have a sitz bath needs to be factored into her healing & pampering time.
A new mother’s caloric intake increases after she gives birth. The baby is still depending on her for nourishment, growth and development. Bed rest is important while she is gaining her strength back and healing from birth. Therefore, having meals prepared for her or delivered for her may be a concern. This is especially so for mothers who are new comers in her community or if the new father has to return to work early. Three meals a day and healthy snacks are necessary, otherwise she may worry about the quantity and quality of her milk supply especially if the newborn looks like he/she is loosing more than normal weight.
You heard your grandmother tell you that healing takes place when the body is resting, right? This is because while the body rests, cells rejuvenate, healing takes place and strength is gained. During pregnancy, Mother Nature prepares mommies for middle of the night waking hours. It’s a given. Babies wake up to be fed every two-three hours a night! If the new mother does not (or cannot) nap during the day while the newborn is napping, everything will seem as though it’s falling apart. Insomnia makes one feel like a Zombie. Can’t have this! Rest will help to relieve fatigue and give mother a sense of confidence and well-being. This will help her to be more attentive, loving and caring to herself and her newborn baby.
Traditional approaches to postpartum care
Not long ago and before the term and profession “Doula” came along, the care provider for the new mother was either of the Grandmothers. Sometimes the Aunties came to help or other women in her village or community. Modern lifestyles changed our concept of postpartum care (and self care) in the West. Women transplanted away from home, took on full time jobs which gave (or gives) only six weeks before getting back to work. God forbid if you took off before the baby arrived AND deliver two weeks late! The roll of the Grandmother was/is to care for the new mother, family and home. The only thing the new mother needs to be concerned about is taking care of and getting to know her newborn, PERIOD! Having Grandmother around during the first few weeks after birth can make the postpartum adjustments healthier and easier for the new mother. Additionally, we know the modern grandmothers all too well. If you know that your mother is not the domestic/nurturing type (usually she has a house keeper, someone to do the laundry and did not nurse her own babies) or incapable of nurturing you, perhaps you can look into hiring a Postpartum Doula. A trained doula knows how to support mothers with breastfeeding and has experience with newborn care. She is prepared to keep the household wheels turning, while at the same time she is makes certain that you are being nourished. Offering supervised attention to younger siblings and running errand are usually part of her package. If you cannot afford a Doula, arrange help from your community. Neighbors, friends or church members are usually good about organizing a meal schedule.
Postpartum Care as part of your postpartum caring
Preplanning for your postpartum care during your pregnancy should be a part of your preparation childbirth. This phase is equally as important. Your peace of mind, physical health and emotional state makes for an easier adjustment into motherhood. Your mothering skills will “kick in” better and easier! It will make a happy baby too! Baby’s can pick up on the energy of an unhappy mother. As the saying goes.... when mother is happy, everybody’s happy!!!!
My personal experience
When I gave birth to my first child, it was summer and my mother (who was a school teacher) came to be with me. However, she was not the domesticated one, no way!!! After the first week, I felt alone, especially since my husband had to go back to work. Soon the tears came and that led to countless calls to his offices asking if he could come home, “NOW”!
Before giving birth to my second child, I took matters into my own hands and arranged to have meals prepared and delivered by my friends (who were good cooks may I add)! They came by to deliver food at lunch and prepared enough for my family for dinner. If I needed laundry done, she would put a load into the washer and once my husband came home from work, he would put the wet clothes into the dyer, fold them up and put them away. If she had children, she may offer to take my toddler home or to the park to play with her children. This gave me “my time” to pamper myself and or take a nap with my newborn. I did this again after my third, fourth and fifth homebirth. This system became customary in our community. All you had to do was list the friends you wanted to cook for you at your Blessingway and it was considered done!
After my third birth, two midwife friends and I decided to create a business, serving new mothers after birth. I wrote down everything I needed support with as a new mother. Brochures and business card were printed and marketing began. It was then that I learned that someone had beaten us to the punch. This lady had a service called “Mothering the Mother”. The term was not even made public at this point (1984) at least to my awareness. Still, we were on a mission and Mother’s Keeper Inc. was officially established. Mother’s Keeper is a service which meets the needs of the new mother and her family when Grandmothers can’t be there. Sometimes Grandmothers come to be just Grandmothers (and that’s ok too!)