What can bring the strongest, most independent, and self-assured woman down? A rough labour and delivery, perhaps some vaginal tearing, swelling, hormones at an all-time high, and a tiny human latched to her breast while she asks herself how it was all possible?
After having a baby there are well-known adjustments that need to be made, and while your experience is individual, that doesn’t mean that you’re alone. Someone once said, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic, or hospital,” and for the fourth trimester, this community is essential.
It can be called a “postpartum plan” — a layer that is added to your existing support system of friends and family. To build it, consider finding the right practitioners to help you in these seven aspects of your postpartum.
Birth story and mental health
The days after delivery, many new parents replay their birth story over and over. A negative experienve can impact healing and abilities, but with so many peripheral tasks demanding their attention, most don’t get to process it. Writing your perspective of events can be a cathartic experience that, when shared with others, turns into a supported experience from which a family can heal, remember, and celebrate.
“The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic, or hospital,”
Ironically, the time in your life when you should be getting the most sleep — making a human and then healing from making a human — you’re not. There’s a possibility that sleep will not go the way that you plan, either for you or your baby, and having a professional sleep consultant at your fingertips, can ease many anxieties that spiral into more serious health conditions.
Along with a newfound lack of sleep, your body will undergo a mind-blowing transformation. You won’t realise how useful your pelvic floor is until it malfunctions. Even the most active person may find themselves cringing at the thought of exercising or even having sex. The same physiotherapist that you’ve likely been working with throughout pregnancy will be the perfect person to address any concerns about when and how to build yourself back up postpartum.
Many people lump diet in with exercise and weight loss, when the information that a dietitian offers seeps into every category of a postpartum plan, including mental health, healthy sleep, pelvic floor healing, skin and personal confidence. Consider finding a registered dietitian that can help get and keep you on the right track right out of the gate.
The hardest lesson for the woman who has everything under control is the give and take that’s required to feel confident as a mother, as a partner (with kids), as a woman who has given birth, a friend, a colleague, a daughter, and so on. Find a relationship coach who can intentionally help you process the roles you will play and how you want to show up in life moving forward.
Your mind will want to move before your body (or general physician guidelines) will allow. When and how you get back into movement traces back to your individual birth experience. Once you’ve understood and processed the nine plus months leading up to baby’s arrival, your labour, and delivery, it will allow you to understand your limits and engage in movement for healing and building. A postpartum personal trainer can provide the motivation and the exercises to start with.
Going back to work
Going back to work looks different for everyone and most are surprised at how they feel about leaving baby postpartum. Whether you feel dread or excitement, you still want the best care for your little one and this will require some good quality research. Start to talk to people and begin shaping your preferences during your pregnancy. Once you have an idea of what you want, speaking to a childcare specialist can help to steer you in the right direction.
A postpartum plan does not imply that you are able to control what comes next. Instead, it is a roadmap that helps a new family to navigate their individual postpartum journey, decrease the anxieties that tend to come with being a new parent and maybe even allow you to enjoy the wonderful, crazy, and even ugly times that come with womanhood.
Kristen Scott Ndiaye is a maternal mental health advocate, a mother of two and the creator and facilitator of EmergED, Bermuda’s first holistic postpartum support program that pairs traditional peer-to-peer talk therapy with access to seven different practitioners over seven weeks. It is a ready built postpartum plan for new mothers. To find out more or register you or a loved one, visit www.wellbermuda.com.