In the West, after a new mother has her baby, the focus shifts entirely on the baby, and the mother receives very little support. This is not normal for our species to be in this situation, and everywhere around the world, there is, or used to be, a period of about a month post birth when new mothers were treated like goddesses, supported, fed, and nurtured by the community and didn’t lift a finger!
I wrote my book, why postnatal recovery matters, to raise awareness about the lack of support new mothers get during the postpartum in the UK, and to offer practical solutions to change this.
I suggested in the book that we prepare for the postpartum like we do for birth: by writing a postnatal recovery plan, using the four pillars of the postpartum (social support, rest, food and bodywork) as a blueprint.
It’s been close to a year and a half since the book was published, and I can now report that preparing for the postpartum is not only worthwhile, but it works!
The message in the book is doing exactly what I hope it would do, which is help families prepare for the postpartum, get more support, and have a better experience all round. In fact it has gone further than my wildest expectations in how it has positively impacted families.
It has also helped many families who didn’t have a great experience the first time have a much better one for their next one.
It has not only transformed the lives of many new mothers, but it has also transformed how I support the postpartum myself, because I now talk about it antenatally. I have also run a lot more mother blessings (a mother centred version of the baby showers), during which I have asked people to pledge support for the new mother in the 4 pillars above).
Here are some of the things that have been shared with me:
- Several people have told me that, rather than buying gifts for the baby, they have decided to organise food deliveries for the new parents instead.
- A new mother I’m supporting as a doula, and for whom I organized a mother blessing, shared that food parcels keep turning up on her doorstep.
- “After reading the book, I felt much less guilty about letting other people look after me this time around”
- “I am so grateful for someone finally voicing how I felt as a new mother, but couldn’t put into words myself. We are living in very different times from when (even) our parents gave birth, and the recommendations of this book could not be more relevant to new families now – and especially those struggling with loneliness and isolation due to COVID related restrictions.”
- “I bought your book, read it and passed it on to my daughter. Wow! It has made such an impact on her as she plans ahead. As she suffers with OCD and anxiety, your book gives her the tools so she knows how she can plan ahead and manage others‘ expectations. For example she has made a list of ways in which supporters (as oppose to visitors) can help during the postpartum.”
- “Reading it has made my recovery after having my 4th baby so much easier and relaxed. Without the guilt that I should be doing more. I also feel that my bond with my baby was better, I suffered with depression and anxiety which came on during pregnancy.”
- “It helped me see what I could have done differently after my first child was born and made me feel so much more confident in preparing for number two. I had never even considered some of the ideas she presents for post-natal recovery, but after reading about them I realized that they sound like just what I need.“
- “I ordered this book 3 weeks before my due date hoping this would help. I read it in 2 days and was able to action some of the advice straight away. I love that is it so readable and go to the point, and above all that is written in such a kind, gentle, non-judgemental way. It really helped me to reframe my expectations for these first few weeks/months after birth”
- “Sophie Messager writes with such empathy for new mothers that I found her words hit me in a very raw place. She has put her finger on a particular type of pain that (in my experience) has gone unrecognised. Her simple validation that for weeks after giving birth, a mother needs and deserves rest, attentive care, reverence, good food, emotional and physical holding and nurturing by others and by society, is profoundly moving and not rocket science”
If you want to learn more about this topic, I have a whole host of resources available:
Free resources like my postnatal recovery plan template, and many blogs on the topics.
- The postnatal recovery plan, a blueprint for a nurturing postpartum
- How to normalise rest and support after birth
- Baby shower? Have a mother blessing instead
- Why I want to change the nature of postpartum support
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for the postpartum
- What new mothers really need
- Mother is f***king hard and you’re not meant to be doing this on your own
- Slow the f*** down, how to look after yourself after the birth of your baby
- The lost art of postnatal wrapping
- Why waiting 6 weeks after birth to have a massage makes no sense
- Why postnatal bodyworks matters
- Your postnatal recovery isn’t about how soon you can start doing chores
- Nurturing postpartum recipes: Chicken and red dates soup
- Nurturing postpartum recipes: Groaning cake
My book, why postnatal recovery matters, which costs £8.99 including UK postage (There is also a version in Italian called Il postparto). Read why I wrote the book in this blog post. This page has all the clickable links from the book available for free
My online course, Why postnatal recovery matters, for birthworkers and parents who want to take a more in depth journey in how to prepare, or help others prepare, for a nurturing postpartum. Read about what’s special about it in this blog post.
And, because bodywork seems to be the most neglected aspect of the postpartum, I have created an online course on postnatal rebozo massage and closing ritual. You can read why I created this course in this blog post.