Nehanda's mothermoon story

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This week's mothermoon story is from Nehanda.

Below she shares what she learned from her daughters birth and what she did after the recent birth of her son to nourish and nurture her body, mind and soul in the weeks after giving birth.

Nehanda says:

When I was pregnant with my daughter 3 years ago, I did so much to prepare for the best natural birth experience I could. Everything from Hypnobirthing, to Pregnancy Yoga, regular massages, meditation, improving my diet, doing affirmations etc.

Those first few weeks after her birth however, I remember sitting there and thinking I’d got it all wrong. I felt weak, tired, sore and was struggling with breastfeeding. Not to mention this little being was now completely reliant on me for her survival. It seemed she cried for hours on end.

Surely THIS was the time I really needed healing, rehabilitation, recovery techniques, relaxing massages and nourishing foods! But my budget has been spent and I didn’t know where to look for support so I suffered with low energy, painful nipples, constipation, and a sore perineum for weeks. I remember asking why no one had prepared me for this part?

Why did none of the gazillion books I had read
barely even mention the postnatal period?
 

The whole experience led me to train as a Holistic Life Coach where I learnt many tools and techniques to support new mums through the transition of motherhood. Along with my own experience and that of other mums I coached, by the time I was pregnant again with my son, I knew exactly how to prepare. 

I developed four modalities to support new mums: Soul Food, Soul Care, Soul Flow and Soul Connect. These emerged based on my belief that motherhood is the deepest transition and potential for spiritual transformation a woman goes through in her life but is often not experienced in this way. The truth is, if mums are supported and can prepare at a soul level for the transition of motherhoood we can begin to restore it as the beautiful and sacred journey it can be. 

The first thing I did was ask for help.

I had a Motherblessing where instead of gifts I asked my closest friends and family to support me in the first few weeks with meals or helping me to clean around the house when they visited instead of expecting me to host them. We also had a no visitor period for the first few weeks which allowed us to just bond as a family first.

Soul Food. I batch cooked and froze as much food as possible before hand. My family is vegan. I made currys, soups and stews using warming Caribbean flavours I knew were nutrient dense and easy to digest.

In the days after the birth, I asked my husband to make nutrient packed smoothies for me and herbal teas that would support my digestion and breastfeeding. I drank copious amounts of water especially at every feed. 

I had researched the benefits of placenta remedies so had a few placenta smoothies after the birth and the rest made into capsules. These helped boost my milk supply, reduced my postpartum bleeding and generally had a balancing effect on my mood and emotions.

Soul Care refers to healing rituals and self care practices that can support us at a soul level. Every day after the birth I had healing baths, some with healing herbs, others with salts, essential oils. 

I wrapped my stomach using the Bengkung belly binding method which really helped with my posture, hip alignment, helping my organs return to their original position and generally feeling supported.

I had a closing the bones ceremony performed a few weeks after birth, which is an ancient South American tradition which included a recounting of my birth story, and then being massaged and wrapped tightly in cloths and then warmed sandbags. It helps to close the energy fields that are opened through birth. It was blissful! 

Soul Flow refers to movement of the body and breath. Being an avid Yogini, I was eager to get back to a regular practice but found this was the area I needed to slow down the most. Having Diastasis Recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles many women experience after pregnancy, also makes many traditional exercises off limits. I found some gentle yin yoga stretches for my back helpful and mindful breathing through meditation and during most feeds really nurtured me through the pain of breastfeeding in the early days. 

Gentle walking in nature would have been ideal but it happened to be snowing in London at that time so after one failed attempt outdoors I resigned to wait for warmer days. 

Soul Connect is about honoring your need to have open and honest conversations with yourself and those around you, especially your partner. Journaling is a great way of doing this but it also refers to creating regular loving self talk. We are outpouring so much love to our children in this time, we also need to mother ourselves. 

My son is 3 months old now. I found my whole recovery this time has been so much better. Physically my energy levels have been better. My mood and emotions have been more balanced. I feel more adjusted and able to deal with the challenges that come with motherhood.

Im so glad I’ve given myself the time and space necessary to heal on all levels. Many women consider investing in postpartum care a luxury rather than the necessity it is.
I’m so glad I did.

If you’re interested in working with Nehanda as a holistic life coach at any stage of motherhood please contact nehandatruscottreid@gmail.com  She is also on instagram @soulmamacoach

 

Emma's mothermoon story

I was so happy when Emma agreed to share her mothermoon story for the blog. Read on to learn about what she learned from the first time around and what she did differently when she welcomed her second baby six months ago. Thanks for sharing your story Emma!

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Emma says:
My son is now 6 months old and when I think back to those early weeks, I remember them so fondly. All that time snuggled up together. All those cuddles.

There was also worry and lots of adjusting but the predominant feeling is one of joy at those precious early days.  He is my second baby and when I think back to that time with my daughter four years earlier, I remember the exhaustion, the fear, the worry, the self doubt all the while pretending I was fine.

We were out of the house at day 5 going for coffee. We had planned a park walk too but I remember feeling a bit dizzy and feeling frustrated I had to go home.

We were so excited to show off our new baby,
but my body and mind were raw from a long birth
.

I had to grin and serve tea through painful stitches and try and breastfeed in front of friends and family when I was still struggling to get a pain free latch. I had no idea about a mothermoon. I just saw everyone having a baby and then acting like it was the easiest thing in the world.

When my mum arrived from Australia at day 6, I sobbed as another night approached when I was the only person awake trying to care for my tiny wakeful baby. Mum was a huge help and reassured me so much, but there were also lots of new advice since she had small children, and I was also trying to find my own way as a mother. The journey from maiden to mother is a vertical learning curve.

So over 3 years on and being pregnant again and with the due date approaching, I began to worry about those early weeks again.

How would we cope?

We debriefed a lot as a couple, throughout my pregnancy, on the struggles we had together. We had had all the exhausted bickering and had come out the otherside.  We had a lot of  emotional chats and cleared a lot of misunderstandings and we were stronger than ever as a pair, but it still did not change the fact that we had little support for the postnatal period ahead.

My parents were not able to come this time and my husbands parents live a number of hours away. We also had an almost 4 year old to help support too. It was during this time that I discover the First 40 Days book discussing the time of confinement for the new mother. I loved this book and what it stood for. With my daughter we had made a couple of meals for the freezer, but this time I knew we needed to do a whole lot more. It took months before I could make an evening meal with my daughter and I wanted to be far more prepared.

Two of my very close friends also had their second babies during this time. They both approached the early weeks with a very gentle approach.  Staying in bed for a week and on the couch for a week. One friend also hired a postnatal doula and urged me to try and do the same. 

We talked long and hard about whether it was something we could afford to do and to be honest it felt like it was a stretch too far. But still my worry about those early weeks continued. I was doing loads to prepare for the birth (Yoga, hypnobirthing, regular osteopathy and reflexology and hiring a birth doula) but it’s the postnatal period when it truly gets real. I remember being so struck by that last time.

The birth will happen.
Your baby will be born.
There is a lot you can do to prepare for it,
but it will be done relatively quickly (days last time in my case)
but postnatal is forever.
 

So in the lead up for the birth, we cooked and stocked the freezer with loads of food. Nutritiouss delicious food. We prepared family and friends that we would be staying home on our own for chritsmas (no rushing around with a new born seeing everyone). We talked more as a couple about what we both needed to support each other. 

Then the night of my son’s birth arrived at it was undoubtably an easier birth. We were at home and we had a great team around us. It was when I lay on our couch  holding out new boy that I asked our doula if she could help us postantally too. Fortunately she did have availability. 

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The first week was still bumpy. Trips to hospital for jaundice checks and dodgy cord stumps and me having a fever. Fortunately all was fine but it was a pain. But in between those few unplanned trips out of the house, I lay in bed and snuggled my babe.

We had almost constant skin to skin and breastfed all day and night. I bathed in sitz baths and my stitch healed in a couple of days. I drank placenta smoothies and broth (not together!) and my husband made me nutritious food, whilst our big girl went to nursery.


We also planned a few special days out for my daughter and husband to the theatre and special date in central London, to make sure she had some special time and allowing me more rest. We pulled up the drawbridge and had no visitors. A dear friend dropped around a bag of magazines and treats and left them by the front door. It was bliss. 

When our Doula arrived during the end of the second week it was wonderful to see her smiley face and have someone special to chat to, but with no obligation to host. She cooked for us, held the baby whilst I slept and did the laundry without being asked to! She listened to me and really held the space without ever telling me what to do. It was so special.  

We ended up staying almost exclusively indoors for the first month. It helped that it was cold December, but normally I would have still felt I needed to get out. To switch my mindset from having to do to just be helped me hugely. I thought I would be bored. I wasn’t. It was heaven hibernating together whilst my body healed and my mind could rest.

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And now six months on, I’m tired from having two kids of course, but the time has flown and I feel good in myself. I don’t have the anxiety I had with my daughter. Of course at times I still struggle but my over arching feeling is honestly joy.

I have loved this postnatal period. This is not something I would have said with my first at 6 months. I really believe this is largely due to planning for the challenges of this time and lowering my expectations of myself.

Resting and recovering properly in the beginning really has given our family such a better start to being a family of four. 

Emma is also an osteopath specialising in treating children and pre/postnatal women. She is currently back working one day a week from Nunhead Osteopathy Practice.

Colleen's mothermoon story

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Colleen came to my most recent Mothermoon Workshop which is all about preparing for the postnatal period. She's shared her mothermoon story and lots of great tips about how she prepared for welcoming baby number two and how having a mothermoon helped her, her husband and their son adjust to life with their newest family member.

Colleen says:

The Mothermoon course was great for really making me realise the lack of help new
mums have in our culture compared to others, and also how odd this is. It's something I already knew, but I think we always accept the environment we grow up in and rarely question it. Especially when we see others (and celebrities) getting on with things.

I was determined to take things easy after this birth, and repeatedly told my husband that I would be staying indoors for two weeks to recover. He questioned me a few times but seemed happy enough to go along with my plans.

He also mentioned a few times that he probably wouldn't be able to take two weeks off work. He's self employed so if he doesn't work he doesn't get paid. I am also on statutory maternity pay, so not having a proper income for two weeks is a concern for us.

However, I felt confident enough to say that money wasn't as important as this time together. Not just for me, but all of us as a family. I wanted time to recover and heal, for my husband to have quality time with the baby and also for him to help out with our two year old so he wasn't stuck in front of the tv.

The other thing I took away from the course was,
that like birth, I could prepare for this time.

I bought a water bottle (as I know breastfeeding is thirsty work and wanted a drink to always be on hand), I asked me Mum tobuy me a slow cooker instead of a baby gift (she thought this was odd but I explained how much it would free up my time for the baby) and I stocked up on Disney DVDs from charity shops (my back up entertainment for the two year old).

Being prepared helped me feel less
nervous about juggling two children.

So many people would ask me when I was pregnant whether I was excited about the new baby - and honestly I wasn't that excited! Yes, I wanted to meet the baby, but I love being pregnant and I know how much hard work newborns can be. (My first baby was a terrible sleeper so the first year was a sleep deprived fog).

 Venturing out for the first time one week post-birth.

Venturing out for the first time one week post-birth.

Luckily, I had a very fast and straight forward labour. It was 40 minutes at home, so my recovery has been really fast. I felt physically well after a few days and ventured out of the house on day six postpartum. This was much sooner than I anticipated, but for me it felt right. I was missing quality time with my two year old so we went to play group just for an hour. Afterwards we all had lunch together and then all went for a nap. 

Daytime naps aren't something that I did after my first pregnancy but I am fully embracing them this time round! I've learnt that to be a happy Mum I need to be a bit easier on myself, and actually with this attitude I'm being more productive.

 

 Making sure visitors came to me in bed rather than getting up.

Making sure visitors came to me in bed rather than getting up.

 I've relaxed and followed my on intuition a lot more. For Sydney I had a breastfeeding app to tell me how long he'd gone
between feeds, but with Robyn I haven't bothered. If I had a bad night with Sydney I would stay up with him to make sure he'd go back in his Moses basket, but with Robyn if she's unsettled I just put her in bed with me so that we can both get some sleep.

Colleen is also a hypo birthing teacher offering both private and group classes in Dartford/south east London.

Click here for more info about Colleen's hypnobirthing courses or here to follow her in instagram.

Antonia's mothermoon story

Antonia says:

After baby number one I was exhausted. I had lost more blood than average, I'd had a blood transfusion and I was released from hospital after only two nights with a newborn baby, some antibiotics and boobs that weren't producing any colostrum or milk.

But I thought, 'I'm home now, everything will get easier now'.
It didn't, but that's because I didn't know what to do to make 'everything easier'.