When you first find out that you are pregnant and go for your first prenatal visit, you are bombarded with information on how to pay for your hospital visit, doula support, normal symptoms in early pregnancy and so much more.
Something that isn’t mentioned until your last months of pregnancy, is postpartum. Not to mention, when postpartum is mentioned, it’s usually around the idea of postpartum depression. Can you imagine what it would look like if all of the care providers that worked with pregnant women put as much emphasis on the postpartum period, as they did on the birthing experience?
Isn’t it crazy that we have to raise awareness about the most integral part of life? The part of life that pushes women and families to their bare bone limits. In modern American culture, we do it alone. Without family. Without meals. Without massage. Without care and reverence. And it’s not because people don’t care, but it’s because most of them don’t know. They feel that it is a luxury. Raising awareness about the connection of the postpartum time to the birth experience could be the breakthrough that we need.
There is space for collaboration with birth and postpartum doulas and other birth workers.
Birth or Postpartum?
As a pregnant family everyday you hear more about birth. We hear about evidence based care, birth experiences, birth doulas, birth this and birth that. Many people note, why focus on the birth experience so much when it’s a fleeting thing that lasts at most 2 or 3 days? But as a birth doula I know the sanctity of the birth experience. I know the power that comes behind the transformative nature and how it spills over beyond the hours of labor. It’s a rite of passage that is finally, being risen up from the dead as an important process of life. So yes, the birth experience requires all the attention and more that it’s receiving now.
So where does that leave postpartum? The issue isn’t that postpartum is more important than the birth experience or even that the birth experience is getting too much clout. The issue is that these experiences have been fragmented and categorized as separate, when really the postpartum time is an extension of the birth experience. It begins as soon as that baby leaves your body and reaches your belly; but many people view that as part of the birth experience. This is how I show you they intertwine and overlap each other. Swirling around as one, yet also having their own distinct identity, vibe, and feel.
The Postpartum Experience
Postpartum begins when that baby leaves your body. Your breathing slows after the huge transition from pushing to holding your slippery newborn. Or maybe you’re on the operating table and staring with adoration as they clean your baby up. Whatever the case, this is the intertwining moment where your birth experience meets your postpartum experience. From here they mingle and dance until you find yourself deciding when your birth is over and your postpartum begins.
The line becomes even more blurred when you give birth at home, because of the lack of barriers and the defining moment of the car ride.
The importance of the birth experience overflows into the postpartum window. And an empowered birth experience can provide a stronger foundation to deal with a tough postpartum. But why do we have to have a tough postpartum? What if we made our postpartum experience planning a part of our birth experience planning? What if they could seamlessly merge? What if we could be met from the moment that we birthed our baby, with warm blankets, warm soups and gentle voices? What our birth team was aware of the veil that has been thinned, aware of their energy and how it affects mother and baby? What if our family and community knew how to honor this sacred time by being an invisible angel, dropping off food, running errands and respecting mother and baby bonding?
Ideas for the Solution
This is where we raise awareness. We need to integrate postpartum planning into childbirth education, so the norm becomes childbirth and postpartum education. Highlighting the postpartum time as more than a newborn care and an inevitable side note associated with depression. But instead as a valuable intricate continuation of the rite of passage into parenthood.
As caregivers it’s our responsibility to integrate this narrative as to not cause further isolation between the times of birth and postpartum. As birth doulas it’s our job to not only educate about birth but to also educate about postpartum care, postpartum doulas, resources and postpartum plans. It should be emphasized enough that it is not viewed as a side note, but as half of the whole. This does not mean birth doulas must become experts in postpartum, but it does mean we must see the importance of this time so our clients can see the importance as well.
There is space for collaboration with birth doulas and other birth workers. Birth doulas can take the initiative and reach out to postpartum doulas to create alliances, packages of service, discounts, identify resources, and education. Childbirth educators can make it their priority to expand the definition of the postpartum time and provide resources for planning and support.
This is how we make change, this is how we change the paradigm in care.
Writing compliments of
Blog Contributor, Birth + Postpartum Keeper
Siena is a mother of 3, birth and postpartum birth keeper and childbirth educator. She is passionate about changing the paradigm around becoming a parent. It is her lifes work to integrate the sacred, primal and ancesteral back into every day life. She views the mundane as mystical and her connection to that is what allows her to deeply connect the earthly experience. Siena places importance on building the families sense of self and trust in self to fully experience the profound nature of the birth and postpartum time.