We could change a bit our perspective on the postnatal period. We know it is rather an intense and challenging period, and precisely for this reason it is also a unique opportunity in the life of one who becomes a mother or father.
An Ayurvedic saying says that the 40 days after giving birth will condition the next 40 years! Therefore, that time requires care, availability, attention, things that can only be achieved if we give priority to the postpartum period – at least for the first 40 days (since postpartum itself lasts much longer).
Society as a whole should be aware of the relevance of the first few weeks after childbirth – for example, by providing financial conditions for the new mother and allowing a longer maternity and paternity leave – but that is a subject for a different article.
Here I want to highlight the many opportunities that come up in the postnatal period.
See below seven postpartum opportunities and some questions that may arise:
– an opportunity to take time out of this material world that demands so much from us, especially us mothers. Planning for postpartum, seeking a supportive network, and organizing the material provisions for the postnatal period while still pregnant will allow the new mum to detach herself from the mundane tasks and demands from this frantic life that we in general carry today. Think about it and enjoy this disconnection! –> Is this disconnection overwhelming at some point? Did you end up enjoying it?
– opportunity to take care of yourself, your health, to give priority to what you eat. With the body physically recovering from pregnancy and childbirth (be it vaginal or surgical), and with breastfeeding, a balanced and healthy diet is an excellent idea. And it can become a habit, something that will be part of your life forever! Bear in mind that breastmilk will always be nutritious, regardless of what you eat. But all the nutrients may go to your baby and your own body may lack some vitamins and other components. Most mums I know try to eat well in the postnatal period (having a chocolate doesn’t make your diet bad, let’s not be hard on ourselves!). –> Is it a sacrifice or do you enjoy eating better than before? Have you kept the good eating habits after the postnatal period?
– opportunity to connect with your baby like no other time in life. You are starting to get to know each other and it takes time. Allow yourself to devote entirely to this connection, without external concerns. –> Isn’t that what really keeps us going, even in our worst postpartum days? 😊
– opportunity to connect with your partner, to develop deeper communication between you two, to get to know sides of each other you didn’t know before. A chance to recreate your relationship, now as parents! –> How hard is it to see this as an opportunity?
– opportunity for self-knowledge. The loss of identity is for many women one of the most challenging parts of the postnatal period. If every time you get the feeling of “I don’t know who I am” you think you’re going to rediscover yourself and that this is great, that will bring some comfort in the midst of the emotional rollercoaster. –> Don’t we become better human beings when we have children?
– opportunity to redefine priorities. It is true that when we have children this ends up happening whether we want it or not. But seeing this change from a positive point of view helps in the process and with its acceptance. Changing is part of life and, even though in the postnatal period changes are so intense, understanding that you will find yourself stronger, more capable, more selfless, may bring comfort at times! –> Were you happy to have new priorities or did it feel like such an effort?
– opportunity to be looked after. At what other time in your life will you have a chance to have loved ones caring for you without you being sick? Allow yourself to be cared for, to be served food, to have people working for your well-being! Of course, to make this possible, you and your partner – with the help of a postpartum doula if that is the case – have to do a bit of planning before baby arrives. But knowing the importance of the postnatal period, surely you will be able to organize the house and the connections with your support network to make it possible! –> How hard is it in our world to ask for help and to accept others’ offer to help?
Associating postpartum with opportunity is a way to cross this phase with awareness, satisfaction and, why not, a little lightness too!