#18 Preparing For A Positive Postpartum – The Matrescence Podcast
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20210605 Preparing for Post Partum
Kelly: The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life.
Bree: But what about the birth of the mother?
Kelly: That’s right. When a baby is born. So two is a
Bree: mother. This transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence.
Kelly: This developmental stage is as powerful and irreversible as adolescence, and yet few women have ever heard of it.
Bree: So let’s talk about
Kelly: it. Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you emerge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself.
Bree: So join us, your hosts, Kelley and Bree. As we attempt to make sense of Al Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of it.
So in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about my postpartum journey and specifically what I’ve done, what I did to prepare for postpartum and how that has played out. Now that I’m one week postpartum my mental to reflect on what things we put in place, what worked, what didn’t. And hopefully by sharing that with you, you’ll get some ideas maybe for your own journey or to support someone in your life as they go through their postpartum experience.
So hope you enjoy these reflections.
Kelly: So Bri let’s open with, when did you begin preparing for your postpartum and how
Bree: I think for me, it started really before I even fell pregnant, honestly, when I think back, because as I’ve talked about before, I had a really difficult postpartum journey with my first one. Specifically in terms of my mental health and how I navigated that transition and how overwhelming it was for me.
So prior to even falling pregnant, I’d had conversations with my husband and with my counselor about how I really felt a deep need to do things differently this time around. The conversation started really early. And I think with you as well, when I did fall pregnant, we started to talk more logistics of what that would look like, what it would feel like, what I was hoping for reflecting on.
Why I found it so challenging last time and what parts I had control over. We are the Matrescence podcast. Who’s spoken about Matrescence and how that is just a Rite of passage you have to go through. And there are elements of that, that adjust hard. You can’t prepare for them. You can’t control it.
That’s unavoidable, but there are also things in our postpartum experience that we do have control over. So it was a case of identifying what those were, what was within my control and what I could do better this time. So those conversations between you and I happened gradually over many months over foot massages and cups of tea.
And I guess when we. When we got towards the end of pregnancy, that was when I started to really try to assemble my village and set myself up for a positive post.
Kelly: Excellent. So there’s a phase of lots of deep inward thinking reflection and trying to understand before you start that planning and action phase the mummy shower that we put on.
And for those who’ve been following on Instagram, tell me about how that fits into the journey of you assembling your village.
Bree: Yeah. So I am denied about whether I wanted a baby shower. I had a beautiful baby shower last time, but it’s not the done thing. Second time around it’s something we tend to mostly do with first-time mothers.
And I very much felt that I had all the things I needed for a baby. And that is, does tend to be the focus of a baby shower is there’s a heap of gifts and celebrating the impending arrival of the baby. So I couldn’t really see how that fit into my journey. And also, I guess if we dig a little bit deeper, I was very intent on not focusing on the baby.
I knew that I needed to focus on myself and. That would allow me then to be a better mum. So I wasn’t sure if I wanted one, but as time went on I thought about it and I realized that this is an opportunity to gather all of the women in my life, who I cared about, who cared about me. And I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.
So I did decide that I wanted one, but. But while I didn’t have many specific recommendations or parameters or anything I did want it to be more. Mum focused. So I sent a message to you and a few other people in my life just expressing my desires and saying, Hey, I’ve decided I actually would really like this.
And if you guys are up for it, I would love for you to be a part of that, of planning it and just put it to you and express my desires. And then you guys took it and run with it. So I think that we had many conversations about. My values, what was important to me? So you and a few other key people in my life really had a good grasp on what I wanted that to look like.
So you I don’t know who then came up with the concept of the mummy. Shout it wasn’t me though. Do you know?
Kelly: I can’t honestly remember, I guess we just started calling it that naturally and organically. And the cross section of people who put it together, where friends, your age, your mum your sister-in-law, your sister, myself.
So a good cross-section of people who knew you and the conversations we had were very much. What would Brie want? What would celebrate her? As a mom and as a woman, as opposed to the baby. So I think the mommy shouting was quite organic.
Bree: Yeah. And I think that we could do a whole episode in itself cause it ended up being something that was really incredible.
But what were sensed was this need to fill a space that didn’t exist. So we have the blessing ways. Is there another name for that? Not that I’m aware of. And baby showers. So there is one that is very baby focused, very traditional. And then we have this one, which has seen as being more out there, more hippy, more alternatives, and neither of those felt quite right for me.
So we wanted something in between that wasn’t super, we were, we’re still quite traditional, but definitely. On me and you guys executed that beautifully. So the whole day was about celebrating me. I received gifts that, would support me and nourish me in postpartum. We had beautiful. Beauty treatments.
So people had massages and manicures and pedicures, and it was just about celebrating, oh, it’s my little babe grunting away there. It just about celebrating women and mothers in this transition. So one of the things that you guys did was ask people to write birth affirmations, postpartum affirmations, and a postpartum pledge.
So again, that was really about focusing on my needs and rallying my village. And I think that, my apprehension with doing something like this was that it would feel quite selfish and self-indulgent to have a day focusing on me. The transition to motherhood is far more significant.
Then the birth of a baby, I’m going to remember what my experience was, whereas the baby isn’t going to remember that we celebrated her before she even arrived. And we shared that on social media and the feedback was awesome. There were so many women who were like, gosh, I would have loved something like this.
So again, it was just another milestone in my journey, preparing for postpartum, setting the tone for asking for what I wanted, what I needed The key people in my life understood what my hopes and fears and desires were. And yeah, that was, I think, a really important part of that process.
Kelly: Yeah. I think the mummy shower was important for all of those people who showed up for you on that day, because there is an element in psychology of when you ask someone for advice, you engage them in helping you to solve it. So the moment share was a place where we asked people to come together. In a way of, and it was almost a question of how can you support Brie on her journey to motherhood.
And I saw almost healing conversations going on that day. We did have other young mothers there who bought their babies. We had great grandmothers, they’re reflecting on their own journey and seeing them almost the mystery in their eyes about what’s all this about. Yeah. But when you ask someone to put a, a birth affirmation down or a postpartum affirmation, you’re actually asking someone to articulate in words, support ahead of time.
So it’s almost like you’re putting these tools in your tool belt about, wow, that person really does support or care about it, but you’re also encouraging them to think about from their own lens and with. What would I want for her in that phase, which is so powerful and the postpartum pledge on its own is a completely separate thing, which I wouldn’t mind you just describing what is actually a postpartum pledge for sure.
Bree: think that it’s also important too. State that there was plenty of people who turned up on that day, who did not actively participate in this process. So they had a great time, but they didn’t then write an affirmation or put anything on the pledge. It wasn’t a case of, we put this out there and everyone was super supportive, super onboard, but there was a few key people who really came through and there was also some who.
Wanted to help and support, but maybe didn’t know how to, and this gave them a specific focus on what they could do, what they could offer, because what we often find is that people do want to be supportive of new parents and new mothers, but we’re just clumsy. We don’t know how to also what to offer. We don’t want to be intrusive or anything like that.
So I think it was a really good opportunity as you said, to set the intention. So what you guys did was you came up with the postpartum plan. And it had specific tasks that you thought I might need in the postpartum period. And then there was the opportunity for people to write their name. So to consider what they thought they could bring to my postpartum journey, what they could offer and then to write that down.
Things like bringing meals checking in with me. Playing with my toddler and, spending time with him. And yeah, people were really great about it and put their name down. And interestingly, I got a message from my auntie the other day. And I hadn’t looked back on the place.
When the one week postpartum, I hadn’t even thought to look back on it, but she sent me a message and said Hey, you’re your mommy shower. I put my name down on the pledge to provide you with postpartum affirmation. So I wanted to take that opportunity now to send you a message with some encouraging words.
And it was really lovely seeing that to come to fruition. And it was a day, probably the first day postpartum that I’d found really hard at had a hard day. And so it was so timely and so lovely. And I’m not sure it would have occurred to her to do that. If we hadn’t set it up,
Kelly: that’s such an issue just important because in gift giving in general, in our lives, we give gifts very differently.
We often give gifts from a position of what would I want someone to give to me? The problem is people are so different and so varied. And what was fantastic about the postpartum pledge is what was on. There were things that we had collected, which we knew were important to you. So yes, maybe your aunt would have never have known that you really value.
Words that’s one of your love languages is words of affirmation. So that was really important. So the fact that it was down there, she could then attach and go actually, that’s something I feel comfortable with doing. I can provide that, whereas I’m very much an acts of service person. And providing food, leg messages, things like that’s an area where.
But then you also have that need as long as some of those are the needs of being filled by other people
Bree: in your life. And I think that is part of it is going okay. Not everyone is going to be good at the same thing. Not everyone is going to be able to offer the same thing. So what can you offer?
What do you enjoy giving? How do you want to show up for her? And there was something for everyone, like playing with my toddler was a quality time thing. Acts of service. There was one on there about, making meals as you said, this one was a love language that deeply aligns with words of affirmation, which actually is my love language.
So it was about going, we all have different things to offer what, how can we come together to make sure we are nourishing you as a whole person? So I think that was a really, it wasn’t the be all and the end, all of preparing for postpartum, but it was a real. Great way to get people
It feels like it was almost like the opening of a conversation with people in your life. And to set that expectation with yourself about what. Also be comfortable with receiving because that’s another part of the postpartum period is, feeling like, is this normal? What should I expect from others?
And so resetting that expectation and also because you have people in your life who don’t have children and for them, that is typically where we can be the clumsiest because they, whilst they want to deeply understand and be there and nurture you. They are. A bit lost. I’m not quite sure what this feels like for you.
Having pledges on there, take me for a coffee when I’m ready. Those kinds of things as, as super powerful as well.
Bree: And I’ve definitely, I think another key element for me has been the fact that I have shared my experiences on social media and not everyone’s going to do that, but one way that it’s really, yeah.
Being beneficial is people like my brother and sister-in-law who do not have kids do not have plan to have kids they’ve said to me multiple times oh, I’m doing this because you’ve mentioned it on social media. This isn’t really relevant to my postpartum, but my brother works at a restaurant.
He recently had a lady come in with a new baby and he’s I went to say, oh, how old is the baby? Is she a good baby? And then I remembered something that you had posted. And how are you doing? Are you enjoying becoming a mom? And that has been the same with my postpartum experience, where I’ve noticed people in my life who have read my thoughts throughout pregnancy have, then had the language and the tools to support me postpartum.
So there’s an element of just, reteaching people. Not just what my needs are, but what most postpartum mothers needs are because we are so disconnected from that. And it tends to be a period where we’re so focused on the baby. So just having these discussions on social media, in my case, but also within with people in our life about, what does the postcard.
Mother need to not just survive, but thrive. It’s ongoing. It’s something that we’ve done. I’ve done throughout pregnancy birth and beyond.
Kelly: Perfect. Because a lot of the, when we focus on the question of what does post, what do we do for preparation and postpartum? We do talk a lot about, do I have nappies?
Do I have meals in the phrase? And I drive a lot of the physicality. So this preparation was. The mental, social, emotional preparation. And, for you having had the tough time mentally part of this was around almost like a mental health plan for yourself. What are the triggers? Who do I need to let know what those triggers are so that they can intervene if need be?
How will I know? And if I don’t know, who might notice. In that preparation phase, I
Bree: think. So you said it perfectly that when we think about postpartum preparation, we tend to think of nesting and organization. And I may have mentioned in the past that I had a conversation with a friend at my mummy shower and she said, are you ready?
And I was like, yeah, I was super ready. And then I went on to discuss the fact that we only had one pack of nappies, two packs of wipes. We had five outfits. We hadn’t picked a name. We didn’t have a nursery. And she was kinda like, oh, it doesn’t. I imagine she was thinking that it didn’t sound like we were very prepared.
We had, because we weren’t on when you look at that side of things. But I nailed that side of postpartum preparation with my first baby and it really didn’t make a difference. I think it gives the illusion of control, but really the things that you can figure out on the fly, you can send your husband to the shops to get a few outfits, to get a baby bath.
You can. Once you are in the throws of motherhood, you’ll know what things you need on your nightstand to get through night feeds. So it was reminding myself that in the big scheme of things, that is 1% it’s really relatively unimportant. And what I needed to do was set myself up. As you said, mentally, emotionally with support to be able to happen smooth transition,
Kelly: Is it fair to say.
Part of your preparing for postpartum was related to your control or perceived control over your birth process and knowing where you would be able to labor. And that’s a separate discussion around why you chose to have a home birth, which we have another podcast on, but I feel like that prep room, in terms of knowing your rights, knowing your options and working out your preferences around birth.
Is part of that emotional and psychological preparation for postpartum because of that feeling of, even if things don’t go the way that we planned, that I have choice. And I’m informed about those choices, which then helps you, because you were in a situation where, you had a fantastic fantasies room where you had an empower, empowering experience for yourself for the birth, but you did still have to deal with a curveball postpartum.
But because you’d done the work, your ability to just ride with that and taking your stride.
Bree: Yeah, I think so. And I was, I did my research throughout pregnancy and I began to understand how your birth impacts your postpartum experience. And I think that we have this kind of philosophy in our society that as long as the baby is healthy and maybe even if the mother is healthy, W we’re talking about physical safety, not psychological and emotional, and that’s the bare minimum we want.
We want everybody to be healthy, but I started to understand how, if you had an empowered birth, a supported birth, Then it could really prepare you for the postpartum experience. And I felt that my first birth was one that was, as I said before, positive but not empowering. So my goal was really to have a birth that I felt was empowering this time.
And if you’ve heard my birth story, you may feel that it was negative. I ended up. A third degree tear, which is, worst case scenario for some people, but it was incredibly power empowering. And I was informed. I’ve got to make choice. I was supported. It was an incredibly beautiful bonding experience for my husband and I think that really set me up for.
Recovering from the tear and also postpartum because I had this new found appreciation of look what my body can do. Look what my husband and I can do together. Look what I can accomplish with the right support. And they are all important in your postpartum experience. So I do think that was a huge part of it.
And that was why I put a lot of time. Yeah. Preparation and money into having the kind of birth that I wanted.
Kelly: It’s funny, you mentioned about nesting, cause I told you the story of once you had headed off to the hospital you’d sent your toddler away with your mum and the midwives had parted for me.
That was a really awesome experience to be able to nest in your house. You
Bree: said more nesting in my house and I do the beds and floats,
Kelly: Put fresh flowers in and just generally yeah. Make it beautiful, but there was a moment where I realized. One of the barriers. People have to a home birth of south feeling of all what to do about the mess.
And I don’t want to have to come home to that. So I, I do realize that village of people that could divide, someone to take the toddler, someone to do some washing, someone to clean up and pack up the birth pool and things like that. Yeah. That whole village was part of the fact that the next day, when you came home, you could walk into your house that whilst it wasn’t, scrubbed to within an inch of his life, it was tidy.
There was food in the fridge. There was clean sheets on all the beds, et cetera. So that realization of that preparation for postpartum was some of those were physical acts, but I feel like it was more that you didn’t have to worry. So the psychological side was, I know, I don’t know exactly what they’re doing, but I know I’ll come home and it will be okay.
Bree: And I think that it’s very similar to. How I operate in my day to day life and how my family operates is that we do actually have that very village kind of feeling. And so the other day I had to go back to hospital to have my stitches checked, and I sent a message to my family and said, Hey, We’re in this position where I need to get back to hospital.
I can take my toddler, but it’s not ideal. Can anyone help us out? And my mum ended up saying, I can have him from nine until 10. And my brother said, I can get there for 10. I need to leave by 1130. My dad said I can get home from work by 1130 and have him till two. So we do have this very much a feeling of rallying to support each other.
And so that was very much the experience I was trying to mimic in the postpartum because. I think first time around, I thought that if I did things well enough, if I was prepared enough, if I worked hard enough, I could do it on my own. And it was still so incredibly hard. It didn’t matter if I meal prepped.
If I got up before the baby to have the day, organized. If I put a load of washing on before bed to hang out in the morning, it was still so incredibly tough. And so I think this time I had this realization of actually I can’t do it alone. It’s okay to not do it alone. And. I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who do want to step up and support me.
And this is not going to be the case for everyone, but I knew that if I was able to figure out what I needed and ask for it. The people close to me would come through.
Kelly: And I think that’s why the mommy shower was a great forum for being really clear with people in a non-confrontational in an invitational way about what you needed, because to use the example of your brother.
And sister-in-law like, they’re amazing support to you, but they wouldn’t have known what jobs to do unless they had been on that journey with you. So it meant that that one of the days that I turned up and they were there they automatically. Okay. I’ll look to calf, to Taj, and then, some went to just do the dishes and just talk, but I can imagine what if that the may have pre babies walked into a house postpartum, I would have been awkward and clumsy.
Like I don’t want to touch his stuff. Would it be okay if I did your dishes? What should I do to help? Whereas, because you started that process in that conversation. Yeah. By the time they enter your bubble, your postpartum bubble. They’ve got the confidence to know. No, I know that breeze. Okay. If I do her
Bree: dishes and I’m guilty of it too, like I have certainly been to visit family members and friends in the past and being that person who just sits and holds the baby, because you just don’t know better.
But strangely, even when we do know. We don’t tend to do better. There’s so many of us who are moms who have been through this and know what it was like to have our baby handed around, to have no one ask how you were, and then we go and do it to other people. We don’t really learn from our own experience and do better.
We’re still really tentative in taking initiative. On a post I shared on Instagram recently someone commented and I thought it was so insightful. And she said, postpartum is a time when it’s okay to assume they have space in their fridge for meals. Assume they’re happy for you to put a load of washing on just assume and do it.
And I think that is so important because it might feel a little bit awkward and intrusive, but no one’s going to go. Oh, my God, I can’t believe she came over and wash my dishes like that is awful. Of course, we’re going to feel super grateful. And as you said that day, the other day when you were there and my brother and sister-in-law you had hung some washing out for me and put some more on, they’d done my dishes.
They’d run around with my toddler. I was uncomfortable, but my husband was even more uncomfortable. He was like, oh no, don’t do our dishes. It’s fine. Don’t you know, just sit down and chat. It’s fine. But we sat in the discomfort of letting you guys help. And when you left the kids, it’s went to bed early.
They were both asleep by 7:00 PM and we just sat there chatting. We ate a meal, we chatted, we talked about the day and the birth. And I was like, wow, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this. Had you guys not come around? And supported us and left us better than you found us. And that was the takeaway for me is that we should all strive to leave postpartum parents, new parents, better than we found them.
And so often. We come to visit new parents, we help their baby. We chat to them and that’s lovely, but it requires their energy and their time. So you’re taking away from them, even if you both want you there. And so if you can do an act of service or bring a meal, you restore that balance and hopefully you will leave them better than you found.
Kelly: Yep. And I think that leaving postpartum mother better than you found them as such a powerful and short piece of advice and. Something we were talking about earlier during my doula studies, they recommend the postpartum visit time to be around about four hours. And this is something that I do. I know why they do it.
It’s a guide, but one of the things that I found it, and I’m only sort of 10 days into this is. I feel like that’s quite a long time to encroach because whether we like it or not, it’s still a, it’s still very private people, still very private you’re in a vulnerable phase. You’re rebuilding your relationship with your existing children.
You’re building a relationship with a new child. You’re relooking at your relationship with your husband and to have someone else’s energy in your space for about four hours is quite a long time. Yeah. So w
Bree: we’re both, is it safe to say you’re an extrovert? I’m definitely an extrovert. So we’re both extroverts.
We love catching up with people and chatting, but it’s still draining in a sense. So four hours is quite a long period. Yeah.
Kelly: One of the things I’ve experimented with is, snippets of 10 minutes at a time, sometimes an hour or an hour and a half, but sometimes that come and sit with you.
And I know on one of the days I dropped something off and it was very much like I’m not staying, I’m not planning to stay, but do you need anything? And at that moment it was like a 10 minute chat and. It was sensing that is this enough right now? Do you need me to stay longer or is it okay? I don’t want to encroach.
And I think that’s part of that postpartum thing is you have to be really. Focused on reading the cues and sometimes assuming and sometimes asking. So assume if there’s dirty dishes in the sink that there to be done, but don’t assume they want you to stay for four hours. So it’s really interesting looking at those two different things, because there’s sometimes where you do have to read the cues of, and I know there’s a comment often about, ah, hold the baby while they have a shower or let them go for a nap.
But sometimes depending on the relationship with the person. They will actually not feel comfortable enough to do that while you’re there. And so you could actually be preventing them from a time when they might be able to put the baby down themselves and how is sharing their privacy. So just really being conscious of sensing what’s right to assume.
And what’s not, and that’s something that I picked up, even though I think we’re pretty close in knowing how each other’s lives and rhythms work. I’ve been like, wow. I can’t imagine spending four hours just sitting there looking at you. You’d be like, okay.
Bree: Yeah. I think so. And I think that. You said it perfectly, that we can assume, and we can also give people options.
So it’s been really lovely to have you drop in and say, Hey, I’m leaving a coffee on your doorstep. And that has been lovely. And on days where I haven’t been available, it was nice to know that you were happy to do that without any expectation of, and I’ll get to come in and hold the baby and chat to you about your birth.
And other days I’m like, actually, no, come in hold the baby let’s chat. And. Having that option is really important, I think. And also, as he said, you may not know if this person is comfortable. If this is something they would like. So giving them options Hey, I am bringing you a coffee. Do you want me to just drop and run?
Or do you feel like you need a chat today? Cause I can stay if you want me to. I think that is so important because what we often do to new moms and people in our life generally going through transitions or tough times is say, Hey, I’m here when you need me, let me know what you need from me. And it’s so challenging for us as women and as mothers to ask for what we need.
So instead of putting the ball in their court and expecting them to come up with a tangible way, That you can support them. It’s giving them options and saying, here are some things I’m thinking, or I’m already going past the grocery shop. Do you need anything? I’m making a Curry for dinner. Can I bring you over a couple of servings?
It’s a lot easier to just say yes. I would love that then to ask for it yourself. I think, yeah,
Kelly: no, a hundred percent. And I’ve been experimenting with that language. And one of my reflections on the experience of being. At the birth and postpartum has been, how could I do this for someone? I didn’t know.
So well because even with having had that years of knowing you, I’m still really focused on reading the cues and trying to work out. Yeah. Balance of being there, but not being too close, not being in your space. And and even today realizing, you came over and I realized I had been so focused on you that sometimes I’d forgotten Matt or Emmy.
And so today I was like, wow, she’s got so much here. I feel like I haven’t really looked at her properly because I’ve been really focused on you, but that’s okay. Cause there’s plenty of other people and she didn’t notice yet, but it was really nice. To have a little hole today because I’d realize that I hadn’t really focused on that at all in the period of time.
And that was a little bit of a special bond for me too. Yeah,
Bree: really nice. Because everyone’s filled those different gaps. So I said to I said to my mum, the other day we do Sunday barbecue. So every Sunday for eight years, we’ve gone to my parents’ house. Rain hill, new baby, whatever we’re there.
All the siblings, mum, and dad and my grandparents. I was feeling up to it and I was like, I want to go. And it’s a really good opportunity for me to introduce the baby to everyone without having, eight individual visits from. So we decided to go. And before that I messaged my mom and said, Hey, if we have leftovers this week, do you mind if I take them home?
Because Kelly’s got all this beautiful food, but it’s not really mats for tech. He would rather eat frozen meat pies than a nice lentil dial or some stuff dates. So he’d been living off frozen parts. And mum was like, yep, no problem. But then she went to the shops and she made up some real like blokey meals for him brisket and potato bake and things like that.
So it was really lovely to be like, Hey, I’m being so beautifully supported and nourished, but I need support from Matt. And so he also needs a little bit of that too. And so it was really lovely that she was. Able to go, oh, this is a gap I can fill in to jump at that opportunity. But I think it is a really good, it brings up an important point that as I’ve mentioned, I’m lucky to have some really great people in my life.
And I think a huge element of preparing for a positive post-partum is learning to ask for what you need and to sit in the discomfort of letting other people help you. But depending on your circle, there are going to be people out there who. We’ll ask for what they need. And there’ll be really clear in that and people will not come through for them.
So where does that leave people?
Kelly: And this is really a space where you do say there, there are paid services out there. To support women and women making the choice to then engage doors for birth postpartum doulas meal services. And there’s quite a wide range of providers out there. And some people would say it’s controversial that we shouldn’t have to do that.
And whilst we, one of our goals and aims is to change the narrative. We’re also. And the reality is that there will be people who don’t have that village. They don’t have that support network and may need to prepare and plan for saying, it’s going to be tough for me to think about what to eat every day.
And every for the first few weeks, maybe we need to actually engage a meal service. Maybe that will take some pressure off it, or having a postpartum doula for me is actually about having someone who comes in and folds the washing. And does the dishes. Or it’s about someone who can help me learn how to mother, particularly first time mothers, someone who’s got some lactation experience will give me that confidence in being able to understand the baby cues and deal with those kinds of things.
There’s two problems. One is we can prepare as much as we want about what we think we need. And then there’s that moment where you have to pivot and adjust and say, now that I’m in this situation and the babies come, what do I know now? What stays and what do I need to add to this? Yeah, for sure. And this is something we’ve talked about before is that sometimes the modern village is paid for and.
I’m lucky enough that I have a lot of people in my life who can babysit for me and happy to, and I trust them. And, for you in terms of childcare, you engaged me five years back as a nanny to, support your family and care for your children. So sometimes it’s about saying, these are the resources I have available to me.
And for some people. Be other people for others, it might be money. And to say, this is something we can invest in to take the burden off us. And again, that choice is one that comes with privilege. You have to have the money, the financial means to be able to pay for these services. But there’s also a degree of prioritizing them, often see the comparison of how much people spend on weddings compared to how much they spend on birth and postpartum. And there’s a huge difference in those values for most people. And it’s just about, knowing that this is a really important transition and that it’s, if you have the means it’s worth investing in those services to help lighten the load.
Kelly: Yeah. And that is I it’s something we want to talk about in the future, particularly me, because. Some of the decisions I made postpartum were financially driven, like going back to work. So looking at what is the investment I want to place on certain phases. How much is that going to cost and making sure.
That you prepare for that rather than doing it really actively and not feeling you can afford. Things is super important because even to use the example of engaging you as a nanny, I’m lucky enough that both of my mums were within driving distance. And so it’s not that I didn’t have the support of grandparents.
I did have that. But th the kind of structured support that I needed for my children, which was specifically homework, taking to appointments, doing some therapy, such as OT and speech therapy, having someone who would align to our parenting style, which include, It’s a lot to sit down with your parents and go, okay, you’re going to help, here’s the kind of rules and principles of our life.
I wanted them to be grandparents. I wanted them to have that, I used to send my kids off to my mom’s and say what goes on to a stays on to a mum. I don’t really care. Send them home alive. Yeah. Dirty and happy. But when you were trying to run a household, my choice to engage a nanny as a paid worker, was it, we could come together in an alignment of values that you do with an employee, employer relationship.
Yeah. And aligned to those. But we had a contract of sorts. It was an alignment that had that, which was very different from what I expected. And I’m still very lucky to have access to grandparents, but I didn’t want to blur the line of expecting them. To do those kinds of things, because I wanted them to be able to enjoy just being a grandparent.
Yes. I have a a family member who, when I was talking to her about babysitting, she was saying Talking about hiring a babysitter versus having her mum babysit. And she said, hiring a babysitter, costs me a hundred dollars for the night asking my mom to babysit costs me my sanity. And I loved that cause she was like, I love my mom, but in this situation I’d actually rather just pay for this service.
Kelly: potentially that is. Quite similar to the thought about postpartum. If you engage someone and there is, it is a financial arrangement, you’re engaging a professional who has already comes with their own kitbag and tools and knowledge and research about what is it. That’s also expecting us to know exactly what I need in postpartum.
Whereas if you’re engaging someone, who’s a specifically, for example, a postpartum doula, they are going to come with all this experience and knowledge, and they’re going to suggest things they’re going to add value to the relationship that you haven’t even thought of, because it would be great to say we lived in this community village when knowledge was passed down from grandmother to granddaughter and so on.
And, we had the wise women of the tribe who would pass on them. But I don’t personally know anyone who lives like that. Yeah. So that knowledge lives in the birth worker community. And so engaging a professional who can bring that knowledge, I think is pretty important and an investment.
Bree: Absolutely. And I think the other advantage in terms of employing someone is that generally they are very aware of the energy. They bring to the situation and the conversations they’re having. Your mother-in-law might be able to come over and support you for a couple of hours. But if they’re going to then, critique the way that you’re mothering or, give unhelpful advice about feeding your baby, you may actually prefer to just have someone who is very respectful of that base and of your journey and can just come in and perform the task that you’ve asked them to.
It’s going to depend on everybody’s individual circumstances. And it’s about really assessing what tools you have, what resources you have available and utilizing them. And I think that’s the missing part of the puzzle is that. Obviously these conversations, we try to be really mindful of privilege.
Everyone has different access to resources, but what, we also see a lot in our communities that when mothers do have access to these things, they still don’t utilize them. They may have the financial means to hire a postpartum dollar and not do it. They may have friends and family who want to nurture and nourish them.
And not take advantage of it. So it’s about giving yourself permission to need, help and need support and asking for what you need. I think that is a skill that you do really need to start practicing throughout pregnancy. And that was something I got to do, especially with you when, during pregnancy you’d be like, can I give you a foot mask?
And it was lovely. But then afterwards I was like, do you want me to massage your feet? Do you need a foot massage? And I’m here with a nine month pregnant belly. I’m like, I’ll get down on my knees and massage you. So uncomfortable for us to just sit and receive. And so I think that is something that we do have to cultivate all throughout pregnancy and then really give ourself permission in postpartum.
Kelly: And the time to do that is not when you’re vulnerable right after you’ve given birth, the time to prepare and think through the ad is in the picture. Birth phase. And sometimes that is before you even decide to have a baby, planning for and thinking about what do I want my village to look like?
What are the resources I’ll need to accumulate to get there? Because yes, we absolutely do have a situation where we had a certain amount of privilege, but as we’ve talked about in past episodes You the investment that you made in your birth proportionate to your income,
Bree: it was like my entire income
Your income for yes. Was invested. Yeah. If you were to ask someone who earns in a very high income, would you spend that Bruton people would be like, I wouldn’t spend a hundred percent of my annual income on a birth, but effectively that’s what you did because of your realization of the importance for the rest of your life, on your experience of that.
Bree: Absolutely. And the other thing that I think that is worth talking about is the fact that we. We’re really tentative and sharing our postpartum experience and sugarcoating it and not being honest. And I think that’s been a really important part of me receiving the support I need in this phase is that I have been honest with people in my life, like even talking about the tear.
I know a lot of people would never discuss that with people, but I’m like, this is significantly affecting my postpartum journey and the support I require. How do I not have the tear as a second time, mom? Our baby, who I think is remarkably easy. She’s beautifully Placid and feeds well and sleeps well at the moment, 10 days in asked me again in a month, but.
I think we would have required far less support, but I’m now in a position where I’m like, actually I can’t carry a load of wet washing out to the washing machine and hang it out right now. And things like that. So being honest with people in my life about the situation and being vulnerable has then allowed them to support me better.
And for me, that has also happened on social media. I’ve been able to share with the community that we’ve built My experiences and in return, I’ve been able to get beautiful support, even from strangers. It’s so lovely, but also messages of Hey, I had a terror as well, and I tried this and it really worked, which some people would not enjoy that.
But for me, it’s been really lovely to have that engagement and conversation with people around their experiences and to learn from them and to it’s incredible how supportive strangers can be. It’s beautiful to see, women coming together and supporting others.
Kelly: Awesome. So are there any final thoughts from you about preparing for postpartum and your experience so far and what you’re looking forward to in the next phase?
Bree: I thinkthe main thing is that I have been surprised by how positive my postpartum has been. And I’ve been tentative in sharing that on social media because. I understand that so many people do not get to have a positive, postpartum experience, but I think that we each have the opportunity to change that narrative, whether it’s asking for what we need postpartum for sharing that if it’s sharing that we couldn’t do it all.
And we needed to bring in paid services. If it’s having. Personally cared deeply about have a baby and showing up for them. We get to slowly change the way we do things. And I think we desperately need that narrative shift. So I think in terms of anyone listening, we have the opportunity to do it better and to do it differently.
Kelly: I love that. That’s a perfect place to wrap up. Whether you’re about to go through this yourself or there’s someone in your life. Try to show up and help change that narrative around the postpartum experience. Yes.
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Kelly and Bree