“Another key element for support is that it is welcome: the mother needs are respected and she is given her space. Mothers need a sense of control at this vulnerable time of transition when so many things are beyond her control: being told what to do and what not to do is not helpful….If support feels imposed in any way that the mother feels constrained, and she feels in conflict with the rituals of her tradition, then it is not useful support.” – Jenny Allison, Golden Month: caring for the world’s mothers after childbirth p90
Set strong boundaries. The partner can take a roll of buffering the new mother and child from the outside world. They can say no to visits by guests who expect to be hosted rather than care and nourish the mother during this period, and they can manage the duration of visits. The partner can also try to prevent, or gently step in, when advice or action which is unwelcome by the mother, is being given.
Protect the calm. The partner can help create an unhurried space in which they can bond with, and gain confidence in caring for the baby. The partner can protect the mother from responsibilities except to herself and her baby.
A note on sex. Sex should only be considered at the end of the postpartum period, when the mother feels fully healed, recovered and ready.
The First Forty Days Fantasy Visitor…
Learns that you are home alone with your baby because your partner has gone back to work (or for any other reason). She calls to ask if she can stop by later that day or the next day to spend a bit of time with you and bring you some food.
She knows that when she arrives at your home there may be a note on the door that says “I’m napping. You can leave food at the door, I’ll call you when I can.” She doesn’t take it personally and is happy you are getting some rest.
If you are open to a visit, she immediately puts the food she’s made in the fridge – a large quantity that can be eaten with one hand, the leftovers frozen – gives you a hug, looks you in the eye, and asks, “how are you?” While you’re answering she goes over to the sink saying, “I’m listening, I just need to wash my hands so I can hold the baby and give your arms a little break.”
While she is at the sink, she washes all of your dishes.
After she washes the dishes, she takes baby only if he is fussy or you truly want a break – the fantasy visitor never interrupts mother-and-baby bonding. She then turns to you and asks, “ How have the past week(s) been? What’s been going really well for you? What’s been hard for you?” The fantasy visitor doesn’t try to instruct, change, or convince you about anything. She has confidence in your skills as a mother and is there to listen.
She doesn’t stay too long. The Fantasy visit lasts forty-five minutes to an hour.
The fantasy visitor does not expect to be hosted or doted on. She does not expect her needs to be met. She has come to your home because she is excited to take care of you – and meet the new addition to your family!
(excerpt from The First forty days: the essential art of nourishing the new mother – Heng Ou p165)
“…parents invest endless effort and resources to ensure the best starts for their children. But mothers need a strong start too…. If mom begins rested and nourished, calm and centered, she can provide the patience and sensitivity – the maternal devotion – that her baby truly deserves.” -Heng Ou, The first forty days: the essential art of nourishing the new mother p22
A post-natal doula can help support you in many and varied ways. Prior to the birth she can help you create a post-natal plan. After birth, often she is able to provide services such as:
Recommended Post-natal Doula in Sydney: Lucy Mendelssohn
Massage is a great way to get the circulation going without exercising in the early postpartum days. Massage has wonderful calming effects, and power of touch is renowned for its effects on healing. Additionally, professional massage can help the body’s musculoskeletal system adjust to the dramatic changes in your core strength, centre of gravity, and muscle laxity and tension after childbirth and during breastfeeding.
Recommended Post-natal Doula in Sydney: Karen Hyams
These modalities are used singularly or in combination to warm the new mother, to support the new-mother’s healing from the natural birth or caesarean, to increase the new-mothers energy and blood production, and to counter issues such as pain, night sweats, insufficient lactation, mastitis and mild/moderate depression. To arrange weekly home-visits within 15km of Sydney’s CBD, please contact me.