THE ART OF MOTHERING A MOTHER
POSTNATAL SUPPORT- A FORGOTTEN FOURTH TRIMESTER
Since the dawn of time and in every traditional society around the globe, postnatal rest was respected and supported by the entire community. But in our “modern” society this tradition has been lost. The Ayurveda, millennial old yogic science, reminds us of the importance and the current relevance of postnatal support.
This period after delivery is called according to various traditions: the “40 days”, “sacred window, “baby moon”, or also the “4th trimester”.
Confident and strong from our own experience receiving “40 days” assistance, we would like to share this possibility with you. By opening our house to trusted and caring hands, we are grateful to have lived the joy of being able to dedicate ourselves fully to our baby while being present for our older children. Our aim is to revive this practice so that each mother can enjoy this precious time with her baby.
After 9 months of gestation and growth the child is born and the parent appears. Delivery and birth are major events that have great impact on the life of a woman and the couple, which is often underestimated and is sometimes overwhelming.
During pregnancy, the mother is aided and accompanied. During delivery, she is surrounded and encouraged. But as soon as she is back from the hospital, she is often alone and isolated.
She has to face the revolution that follows the arrival of the baby: the adjustment to the new rhythm of life, the physical recovery after the “work” of bringing a children to the world, breastfeeding, radical hormonal changes — and all the other requirements of daily life! It’s too much!
« Women are men’s equal but fundamentally different. »
Us, modern women, are looking for independence and autonomy, won after centuries of inequality and struggle.
Are we forgetting that our body-gift has the indispensable function, which is childbirth?
And that following delivery our state requires special conditions and care to maintain our health, emotional balance and the relationship with the baby, partner and older children?
These conditions are necessary for our global well-being, in order to be in “good shape” and take good care of our children.
A mother that accepts help has the resources to give more care to her baby with ease, patience and a calm mind.
During the first postnatal 6 weeks, the mother needs rest in order to recover the intense work of delivery. Her pelvis is in convalescence and she should not carry anything besides her new born to gain back her stability and balance. The uterus also needs to rest to heal the wound caused by the expulsion of the placenta.
All the physical and hormonal changes affect the emotional state of the new mother and make her hypersensitive and vulnerable.
After delivery, the mother needs to be in a safe environment that is mothering and secure.
After 9 months in a watery cave, the child changes “planets”: he/she is separated from the mother’s breast and looks to find unity with his mother again.
The baby has to get used to the new environment, to the functions of his lungs and intestines, to the polarized sensations of cold and hot, hunger and fullness, eating and eliminating, day and night, wakefulness and sleep, to touch, light, sounds and noises. Oh my! So many new stimulations!
To adapt properly, he/she needs to stay in a calm environment during 6 weeks, nestled in the mother’s aura, reassured by her presence, voice and warmth, wrapped in a tranquil, dim and muffled environment.
If we are tune into his/her needs, and if we follow his/her eating, sleeping and cuddle rhythms, the newly arrived will learn that LIFE IS GOOD.
A peaceful presence and a total availability to baby’s frequently changing needs, during the first weeks and months of his/her life, will give to the infant, a foundation of confidence and security for his/her future.
Progressively, the child will find his/her rhythm of sleep and feeding, gently, without violence. Later, he/she will learn to deal with frustration and to differentiate satisfactions.
But let’s be patient, first things first.
No, the baby will not be “spoiled”, if her mother takes her in her arms and feeds her day and night on demand. On the contrary, she will be happy and calm and will have the resources to face life.
This postnatal period is fragile and delicate for all persons concerned: the mother, the baby, the father and the other children.
Recent studies show that 35 percent of women suffer from symptoms linked to post-traumatic stress syndrome following the birth: fatigue, depression, indifference, hyper-emotionality, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed.
This stress takes place when the mother is not morally and physically supported with the housework and not cared for properly during the convalescence period.
We know that a newborn does not yet distinguish the rhythms of day and night. He/she wakes up every 2h approximately to feed.
The consequent sleep deprivation exhausts the new mother.
The Ayurveda explains that the delivery has “emptied” her guts, and the mother has an excess of vata, air element that fill spaces previously filled by the placenta, the baby and the amniotic bag. This excess of air element, weakens her immune system, makes her fragile and vulnerable at every level.
The mother needs adapted care, adapted food, frequent well-being massages. She needs the presence of people she trusts to support her with housework and daily stresses so she can invest all her energy to her new relationship of mom-baby.
The early attachment between mother and her infant is fundamental for a happy and balanced life.
In the absence of this presence and help, the mother may be exhausted and a prey to depression. Maternal breastfeeding might fail, mother-baby bonding will be affected, and the conjugal and family relationship weakened.
That is why it is essential to organize the postnatal support before birth.
Ideally, this help will be done by one competent person, or by a social network composed of friends and family members coordinated to cover all the housework needed: cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, support the other children of the family, massage, kind presence, etc.
Do you think this is not realistic and feasible?
We believe it is, because it is not realistic to continue ignoring the postnatal stress that affects so many mothers, babies and families.
We believe that a paradigm shift is possible.
We believe that women and men understand the harsh reality and are open to a change of mentality, to accept help and offer help.
Of course, the helper is a trusted and trained person chosen and engaged by the parents. Decisions about whether to exchange help can be discussed and arranged before committing.
After baby is born, the father is often good-willed. He’ll take time off from work, to be present and active in the house and to help his wife. But after a few days he needs to go back to work, and the mother is quickly overwhelmed. the father too can benefit from the presence of postnatal helper, he can relax and enjoy his wife and newborn.
The YOGA-DOULA Training addresses this question in detail and prepares you to become a Postnatal Yoga Doula.