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Why I want to change the nature of postnatal support

Earlier this week I wrote a blog that’s been playing on my mind for many years. It’s called “why I wish I had hired a postnatal doula

In this blog I explain how challenging I found new motherhood, how lonely and upset I felt through those early weeks and how I longed for some support but failed to reach out because of a mix of shame for not loving every minute of being a mother, and feeling like I couldn’t justify the expense.

As a doula, I witness the same challenge in new mothers. Sometimes I do not even know they are struggling until weeks later, because, whilst they sit in the same pit of discomfort and shame as I did, thinking they are the only one that struggle, they don’t usually reach out for help do they?

I have written before about the topic of making a postnatal recovery plan, and about what new mothers really need, and you’re not meant to be doing this on your own (hint: it’s not flowers or stuffed bears).

The wisdom in traditional postpartum practises around the world is very simple really, it boils down to 4 main elements of support for the mother:

  • Rest (someone takes care of the chores)
  • Food ( someone takes care of cooking good, nutritious meals)
  • Social support (the new mother is never alone at home with a baby)
  • Bodywork (someone massages the new mother, along with wrapping her hips/abdomen)

I have a strong urge to write more about this, to spread the word further, I have a list of blogs as long as my arm about this topic, and in fact I now am thinking I need to write a book, or possibly more than one book, about this topic. Something easy to share, I might start with an ebook, like the one I have already written about rebozo techniques.

I’m a knowledge junkie, so since I started learning about some postpartum practises, I’ve asked everybody I’ve met about the traditional practices from their country, and you know what, every continent in the world has some form of specific nurturing, specific foods, and bodywork and wrapping.

After all, you’ve not only grown and birthed a whole new human, your body has accommodated this through tremendous changes.

During pregnancy, the uterus grows from the size of a pear to the size of a watermelon (pushing abdominal organs out of the way, changing the shape of your muscles, ligaments and spine as it does so), then back again after birth.

It seems crazy to me that nobody makes sure that all the organs, muscles, joints and ligaments have safely returned where they belong.

I bake a groaning cake for all mothers I support, and sometimes make a traditional Chinese chicken soup too (my husband is from Hong Kong, and there is still a very strong postpartum nurturing culture there)

Learning to massage and wrap new mothers had lead me onto a journey of discovery about postpartum practises, got me to work closely with an osteopath, create a new type of massage, and develop my skills in an apprenticeship manner. The two combined led me to develop a deep practical knowledge of what happens to women bodies after birth.

This has fuelled a fire that makes me want to shout from the rooftops that what we get in the Western world just isn’t good enough, and want to work hard to change that.

If this resonates with you, and you would like to learn some of these nurturing skills, I am running some Rebozo and Postnatal Recovery Massage courses in July-see https://sophiemessager.com/workshops-birth-professionals/

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