14 Jun

Embrace a slow postpartum 

A new generation of parents has arisen. These new parents wish to be together to raise their baby(ies), be present in the moment and take this time together to bond with each other and with their newborn baby. 

New dads are taking more paternity and/or parental leave than ever before, they are positively more involved in newborn care and more interested in making the most of the experience. 

As a Postpartum Doula I see an increase in dads taking time off after the birth of their baby to be with their partner and to look after them and the newborn baby for the first few weeks. I also see more dads reaching out to me to ask for information on the services I provide. 

This, I think is a wonderful way of planning the postpartum times for the whole family. 

When a couple hires me during the pregnancy, I meet up with both of them to talk about their hopes and expectations for their postpartum period. More and more, both parents are involved in the conversation. Less and less I hear: “Once my husband has gone back to work, then I will need you”. 

Instead, I am asked how I can nurture and guide both parents in their new role, how can I provide space to rest for both of them so that they have more energy for their baby. How I can support this important transition so that both parents find their place in this new dynamic! 

During those antenatal conversations, we spend time exploring the notion of ‘slow postpartum’: allowing for a period of prolonged rest and care provided by others for the new mum (and dad!).

What is ‘slow postpartum’?

 If you look at pregnancy, labour and birth as an intense, long and impactful life event, then you need to make provisions for some recovery time in the aftermath. This recovery period should not be rushed. Instead, it should be encouraged, facilitated and embraced. 

Becoming a mother is hard work, no one can deny this. When you start a new job, you expect some time to learn what your new role is, look to colleagues for help and support, and chances are, at the end of each day you feel completely exhausted and need a good dinner and a good night sleep! Right?

So, why should this be different for a new mother, new parents? The ‘slow postpartum’ movement wishes for every new parent to find the nurturing and caring environment they truly need to thrive, to take all the time they need to learn their new role and to truly rest so that the body and mind can process this major life transition.

Extended periods of rest can look different for individual parents: day time naps, time alone to sit down or lay down, early bedtime, etc. No matter what ‘rest’ looks like to you, having a solid support network to provide the space for you to rest is what matters most.

If you are blessed with a newborn who sleeps and feeds at regular intervals and is relatively self-sufficient, you might just about get the time you need to rest and take care of yourself. 

However, the reality is that newborn babies are intense in their needs and are quite unpredictable. So having someone to help you look after this baby and allow you to ‘take a break’ is vital. 

When the new dad is at home on paternity leave, he should also allow himself to rest and be nurtured and seek guidance if he feels the need. The idea that you will tag-team all the time, taking turns to look after baby does not take into consideration the fact that you can both be exhausted at the same time, need time together as new parents to learn your new dynamic, and the fact that dad will be returning to work and probably drop some of those shifts he has taken on. 

Having extra support in the early days, weeks and months postpartum can truly enhance this experience and allows you to find a healthy balance between recovery, rest and taking on your new responsibilities. Doing this in a slow and mindful manner is good for the body and good for the soul.

What is a slow postpartum good for?

Allowing yourself to truly slow down during the postpartum period has many benefits, it is not a waste of your time: it is an investment! 

When you rest, when you eat nurturing foods, when you take the time to bond with your newborn baby and learn a new family dynamic with your partner, you give your physical and mental health a boost. 

When you rest, your body relaxes, uses less energy and allows for the healing process to take its course naturally, without rushing it, without creating trauma. 

Having a support network to accompany you in the process allows, as well, for you to be fed healthy and delicious food you do not have to prepare or cook yourself. 

When you have a postpartum doula by your side, you can choose the days and times you need the most support for, and your partner and yourself can be looked after together, share a meal without interruptions, find the time to slow down together. This in itself helps the bonding process! Believe me! 

Slowing down also helps to bring down your stress level and supports your growth as a mother: if you chose to breastfeed, your supply will benefit from extended rest, good foods and nurturing support. 

Slowing down is an art-form in our fast paced society! Embracing this process, accepting that the postpartum period is not made to ‘bounce back’ and planning ahead your postnatal support team are essential! 

Start thinking about this and talk to your partner about the early weeks and months after the birth of your baby before they arrive earthside!