Written by Jade REXACH, nurse and perinatal support trainee - Updated on May 25, 2023
By Jade Rexach, nurse, training to become a perinatal support worker.
Photo Credit: Alexandra Murcia & Eclore Maternité
The postpartum, this unknown and little talked about period, but which tends to be talked about! It is important to me to address this period in the preparations for childbirth, because it too deserves to be prepared, thought about and anticipated. It is a subject that is rarely discussed before the birth, but many mothers feel lonely after the birth.
You may have heard the saying: "it takes a village to raise a child".
To raise a child, that's for sure, but to accompany and support the postpartum mother, it also seems to me to be quite appropriate. By village, I mean a circle of support, benevolence, a cocoon of softness and warmth.
I suggest that you no longer live this period alone and that you gather your village
After the arrival of a baby, we may feel alone, doubt our ability to be a mother, to take care of this little person who is completely dependent on us to provide for his or her primary needs. And then you wonder how you will find a new balance in the home, if you will get back to "your old life". From our library full of books on motherhood, we know that a birth will be overwhelming, that we may be discouraged, and sometimes even cry. But we never thought we would feel that terrible sense of loneliness.
Myths to be deconstructed
Each generation has given birth to and raised children in different contexts, environments, mentalities and requirements. I think there is a lot of work to be done around the patterns and representations of what it means "to be a good mother, to be a good parent". Our grandmothers and mothers will have a different way of looking at things, because they will have lived a different life to us. They will probably have often been alone to look after the children and the home, while the father was away or at work.
But they didn't know that screens to keep the children occupied all afternoon could be harmful to them, that heating up plastic dishes in the microwave was bad for their health. Nor did they make their homemade compote with the requirement of organic fruit and all on the way home from work. It's not a question of comparing everything, but of understanding and accepting that times change and so does the way we live and do things. The idea that women today may feel the need to be helped and supported may seem strange to previous generations, and sometimes even seem to be "incompetent". Well no, this is not true.
We aren't bad, incompetent or bad mothers because we are willing to ask for help or solicit our partners. Fathers are no less manly because they sweep the floors or scrub the toilets... So let's be gentle with ourselves. So let's be indulgent with ourselves. Let's ask for help, let's appreciate the support and presence, because we will need it in the postpartum period. When you return from motherhood, you can focus on what's important to you: resting, eating, enjoying skin-to-skin time with your baby, bonding with him.
Organise your village
Creating your post-natal village means thinking about your needs and what you can delegate. This may involve shopping, preparing meals, accompanying the elderly to school, the crèche or their activities, taking care of the plants, the garden, taking the dog out, doing the laundry, cleaning...
Photo Credit : Pinterest
Each household will have its own needs, depending on its lifestyle. I suggest that you list your needs in order of priority. Opposite, note the available support (friends, family, neighbours, post-partum caterer, domestic help from the agency you have chosen, etc.) that can be used.
It is a reflection that is done as a couple, with family or with friends...
However, it is increasingly common for our families to be geographically distant. If you are on good terms with your family/in-laws, it might be interesting to have some of them come to your home. This could be for a weekend, a week, a month, a weekend every two weeks, or whatever, and we should think together about the conditions necessary for this to be possible, and to an extent acceptable to you.
And if this physical support isn't possible, communicate and make your relatives understand that this physical support can be replaced by material and financial help. For example, with a post-partum fund, help with a post-partum caterer or the intervention of a cleaning lady in the birth list... Part of the PAJE could be used to finance these aids, or some mutual insurance companies pay a birth bonus.
It's essential to think about it early on, but that the actual organisation of the implementation is done at the time of the last term, when you are round, heavy and when everyone is ready to help you, and to give you their place in the transport. Because as time goes by, solidarity fades and everyone's availability does not necessarily last. This will avoid unnecessary disappointment.
Circle of support
Creating one's own village and overcoming loneliness also means forging new links and creating a circle of exchange and sharing.
This applies to all parents, especially those whose families are geographically isolated.
Find out about baby-related activities (baby massage, baby sign language, baby swimming, etc.) that are available in your area. This will be an opportunity to talk to other parents who are also experiencing a birth and who are probably going through the same things as you.
Also look for parenting associations (LAEP, Super mamans France...), breastfeeding meetings (La Leche League, l'Or blanc allaitement...) or cafés poussettes.
Create links, connect, and meet other parents!
I hope that this article has given you some food for thought about your postpartum and how to limit the loneliness associated with this period. Of course, there is no pressure to "succeed in postpartum" at all costs.
Being informed and prepared will limit unpleasant surprises, and you will have resources and solutions at hand for greater serenity. Let's keep in mind that the postpartum period remains an incredible time of discovery. Let's not make this preparation and anticipation a source of stress, nor an opportunity to create a new injunction towards women!