A hospital-based, one day childbirth education crash course and reading the weekly pregnancy updates on my various phone apps was about the extent of my preparation for my transition into motherhood when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2016. And boy would it bite me in the butt later on…
My pregnancy was pretty good besides the normal aches and pains towards the end and my husband and I were just excited to finally meet this little girls of ours. We had the perfect nursery set up ahead of time, her clothes were washed and folded and we had bought all the most up-t0-date baby gadgets that you could possibly need. I read up on coping mechanisms for natural childbirth, because I was convinced I would just rock it without proper preparation.
Needless to say I did not think past the labor and delivery portion of motherhood assuming we’ll just take her home and soak up the snuggles which unfortunately is not how things went down!
Our first postpartum roadblock started before they even wheeled us over to the postpartum room at the hospital. I thought nursing was just going to be the most natural thing and was sure it would come easily, but only 2 hours in, my nipples were cracked and bleeding and I was dreading the next feeding (which is constant the first 48h!).
Next, Let’s Talk About Baby Blues!!!
Holy Moly was I not prepared for the emotions and feelings that went through my head as soon as we got home from the hospital. I felt overwhelmed and guilty. Guilty, because nothing about this transition felt blissful and empowering. Instead, I was dreading each feeding and was crying ALL THE TIME!
Josh went back to work 3 days after we came home from the hospital working night shift so we hardly saw each other. At this point in my life I had lived away from home for 8 years and always coped with it fairly well, but having a baby changes everything!
All I Wanted Was To Have My Mom Around!
It felt incredibly isolating not living near family and not having a ‘village’ established yet (that you might have with subsequent children). And on op of it all I felt this immense amount of guilt, because I didn’t enjoy the first few weeks/months with my baby the way I was hoping I would.
So what did I do to get out of this rut?!?
#1 The Village
The #1 most important thing was going to a new mama support group. I met a bunch of amazing moms who are going through the same thing either with their first baby or who had some great advice, because they already have older children. If it wasn’t for these weekly meet-ups and subsequently forming friendships with these mama, I have no idea where my postpartum journey would have taken me.
#2 Lactation Support
Our first pediatrician had a IBCLC as part of their staff which was incredibly helpful to get professional support from the get-go. After I received some pointers and things to look out for (and of course after my nipples fully healed), our nursing relationship was fairly smooth sailing until Emilia weaned at 18 months.
#3 Accept Help
My mom did come to visit when Emilia was 5 weeks old and it felt so good to just have someone around to cook, help clean and watch the baby for a bit to get a breather. As hard as it is to enjoy alone time, even taking a hot, uninterupted shower can make the world of a difference.
Sooo why am I telling you all of this….
Because of my personal postpartum experience and after working with birthing and newly postpartum families for quite some time, I realized that there is a clashing gap in our society when it comes to postpartum support. There is so much emphasis on the pregnancy, birth and after that, the baby, that we completely forget to check on the mom. Nobody teaches us about the changes our bodies AND MINDS go through after welcoming a new life. Nobody teaches us about proper nutrition to replenish our empty cups. And certainly nobody teaches us about bodywork and self care with a baby on the hips.
But guess what, we can’t take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves first!
I wrestled with this thought for a long time – constantly wavering between the birth and postpartum doula role, but I am excited to be going down this path in the new year (and I am sure I will add birth doula to my resume one day!). For now, I will be doing my absolute best to help mothers transition into their new role, feel empowered and CONFIDENT that they have all the tools available to them to make this postpartum time amazing!
I Am So Excited To Have Started This New Chapter And Can’t Wait To Serve My Clients And New Families In Northern Virginia As A Postpartum Doula In 2021 And Beyond.
If you want some more information or have any questions just comment below or contact me to set up some time to chat!!! Can’t wait to hear from you!