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.
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.