We, from Motherly Hug, always think of the postpartum period as a whirlwind. A whirlwind that happens physically and emotionally; in the body and in the soul. It’s easier to talk about the physical part. The body slowly returning to be what it was before pregnancy (excluding the part of breastfeeding). The uterus contracts and returns to its place, bleeding for at least two weeks if you have had a normal birth, the care with the scar of the surgery if you have gone through caesarean section, the recovery of the perineum, especially if there was laceration or episiotomy, the sudden drop in hormones, especially progesterone (at the same time as prolactin levels rise, if you breastfeed).
Based on bodily changes, there are those who estimate the duration of the postpartum period in 40 days, but the truth is that, emotionally speaking, it lasts longer than those six weeks.
The emotional roller coaster comes to mark us forever. We oscillate between intense joy and immense sadness. Between familiarity and strangeness. Between satisfaction and restlessness. Between gratitude and questioning. So much happens in this crossing between what we have been and what we will be! Like the chrysalis, we are transformed. And it’s intense, very intense. But it can be smooth. Intense and smooth, in this apparent contradiction.
You need to know that
it’s not wrong to feel melancholic or to cry
it’s not wrong to ask yourself “what have I done with my life?”
it’s not wrong to find it all so difficult and not know what to do
it’s not wrong not to enjoy every moment now that your baby is “here”
it’s not wrong not to want to receive visitors and feel like staying in your pyjamas all day
it’s not wrong to have little space for your partner and to cry when you see him/her come or go
it’s not wrong to have your libido below zero even after the 40 days
it’s not wrong to need help
it’s not wrong to miss life before the baby or to miss who you were
it’s not wrong to wish that the next weeks fly by and that the time comes when you already know your baby well, when you have already created a new routine together, when you already recognize yourself as a mother, as this new woman.
Allow yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you feel without guilt. Allow yourself to respect your wants above social conventions. Let yourself come out of the postpartum experience aware of the incredible woman you are. A woman who is willing to learn forever how to be a mother. A woman who is constantly seeking her best, within her circumstances, her world, her deepest self.
It is necessary to talk openly about the postpartum period, its happy moments and those not so happy, without fear of being judged. It is necessary for us, mothers, to support each other on the motherhood journey, beginning by the postpartum period.
With a bit of planning, a certain amount of communication and a lot of support, the postpartum period may not be remembered as a “bad”, “horrible” one, as we often hear from so many women. For the good of the whole family, in order to achieve the best possible, it is necessary that in the postpartum period the mother and her baby have absolute priority.
In our Western, individualistic world, where the sense of community is increasingly lost, postpartum doulas play an important role.
Laura Gutman, an Argentinian psychotherapist, described like no other the importance of the doula role in the postnatal journey:
“The doula interprets the “inner experience” of each mother, endorsing all invisible changes and translating the reality of the postpartum period into everyday language. It’s not about helping her take care of the baby or about giving her good advice, but about following the dive into the subtle and invisible universe of the newborn. The doula’s main objective is to mother the mother, so that the new mother can then mother her child.
Doulas have a role to play: to name every “absurd”, disproportionate or incomprehensible feeling of the new mother. Let us, women, know during and after birth that we deserve the presence of a doula that will open the doors of the Mysteries of Motherhood. (…) Every word of support is a word of peace and a welcome to the child. Doulas urge us to trust in our choices, and to make decisions according to our most intimate beliefs. They remind us that we are worthy of every care, because the future depends on that.”