We are encouraged to plan and prepare for our births, because birth is a big deal. But are we encouraged to write a postnatal care plan?
After your baby is born, your whole body and mind are in transition. This transition can be so tough, it’s even got a psychiatric label attached to it (Adjustment Disorder). Your body is physically transitioning, and you are mentally transforming too.
Being a mum is no mean feat. It takes time to adjust, and one of the main jobs is to get to know and love your baby, to feel confident in your ability to look after your baby, and to feel you’re doing okay. In many traditional cultures around the world, new mums are made to rest in bed, solely with the job of looking after, feeding and bonding with her baby… for six weeks! I kid you not.
This usually involves other people feeding the mother lovely nutritious foods, having regular massages and being banned from household chores. That’s a far cry from how our modern world treats new mums. Nowadays, women are expected to go home soon after the birth and carry on as usual – including getting back into their jeans and the school run within a few days.
The best advice we seem to be able to give is “leave the housework, it’ll wait”. Yes, but for whom? And who has to live in it while it gets dirtier and messier? The other gem is “sleep when baby sleeps” (fat chance of that). The pressure is on for a new mum, and all this pressure increases the chances of being exhausted, sleep deprived, feeling inadequate, overwhelmed and not feeling like a good enough mother. Those are all recipes for depression. Is it any wonder rates of postnatal depression are on the rise?
Take your postnatal recovery seriously. Don’t just think 'ah, it’ll be okay, we’ll manage somehow'. That’s taking a risk. You are worth more than that now you’re going to be a mum, because you need to take care of you, so that you can take care of your baby.