“I don’t feel ready to let go of your support just yet” is sometimes something our amazing new mums tell us.
And you don’t have to! If we’ve worked with you from pre-conception throughout pregnancy, or during your pregnancy, our support doesn’t stop as soon as baby has arrived. That’s often the point that you need the most support. We are always at the end of a phone. No ifs or buts.
Whether its for a chat or advice, please don’t feel that you’re alone. The fourth trimester can bring up lots of emotions and its really important to talk about them.
Whether your birth was so special that you feel sad about moving on from it or whether it wasn’t the experience you’d hoped for, choose someone you trust and talk to them about your birth story. Seek help and support. Writing about your birth experience and getting it out of your head can be cathartic and also a way of keeping those special memories alive in you. No matter what happened you birthed a baby and that is always something to be proud of.
Don’t feel that you have to host the queue of visitors that you may feel practically beating your door down. You might feel a bit ignored; that everyone is focused on your baby and you’re just the one making seemingly endless cups of tea. And of course you want them to be focused on your most precious baby but in those first few weeks after giving birth it’s all too easy for your family members to forget about the fact that you’ve just grown an actual human and given birth to it, regardless of what kind of birth you experienced.
So what can you do to make those all too important first few weeks better for you?
1. Talk. About how you’re feeling; your birth experience; how you’re coping; anything you feel you would like extra support with.
2. Limit visitors. Especially in the first week or two. You’ve been through a massive transition and you’re now a mum which may occasionally (or not!) feel a little overwhelming. Of course the new grandparents will be first in the queue but you don’t have to cope with a steady stream of well-meaning friends and other family members if you feel that it’s not helpful for you.
3. Set boundaries. If you don’t want anyone else to cuddle your baby in the first few days apart from you and your partner, that’s okay. If you don’t want to get out of your pyjamas and leave the house, that’s okay too. If you want to set times where visitors are allowed for a certain length of time well, you get where I’m going here! Do what works for you and your baby as you are the most important people in this situation.
4. Think about self-care. Lots of our mums say that they looked after themselves so well during pregnancy and then they realise that stops as soon as baby arrives. And this is the time when you need to look after yourself as much as you did when you were pregnant (although it may be slightly trickier now…) so you can feel well and it becomes easier to cope. What worked well for you during your pregnancy? Eating well? Rest? Yoga, pilates? Time out, in whatever shape that is? Complementary therapies? Time for you when you’re not always with friends and family? Or accepting help from those friends and family?
If you attended pregnancy yoga classes, see if they also offer postnatal classes as lots do and you can usually bring baby with you if it works for you. Ditto with any complementary therapies you may have received. Lots of places are baby-friendly if that’s what you’d prefer to do. Or its equally fine to leave your little one with a loved one and have time for you.
If you know you need extra support, that’s okay too. “It’s okay not to be okay”. Never ever forget that you have spent nine months growing a tiny human from an egg that was invisible to the naked eye – what an achievement! – and then you birthed it! And now is the time to be kind to yourself.