Written by You&Milk - Updated on Jun 23, 2023
The "After Project" by ©Flavia Nasio, BloomDoula
The famous birth project... You know, this project that everyone talks about, that is gradually becoming known in the circle of pregnant women, and even that of fathers, who are asked by the midwife during the consultations in the last trimester of pregnancy: "So, have you prepared your birth plan?"
The couple often look at each other and ask themselves: "what is it, what is it for, but how can I write it down?
In a few words, the birth plan serves to open a dialogue with the medical team, to establish a relationship of trust. It also serves to refine the dialogue with your partner: ask the same questions again while having received more information, another angle of view and allowing yourself to change your mind.
The doula is an integral part of this birth project. Both in terms of her support in drawing up the plan and in the fact that she can also inform the medical team of the parents' wish to have her present in the delivery room. This support in drawing up the birth plan opens up a field of discussion and reflection with the parents on what will actually happen in the delivery room. Talking about it beforehand, visualising the birth process with them, leads to questions and certainties that are beneficial to the fully conscious appropriation of the birth.
What happens next? Afterwards, there is the life that is born within this family, this woman who becomes a mother, for the first time, or again, but never in the same way. This couple that finds itself in disequilibrium, where each one must find a place that they don't know.
This aftermath is called the postpartum, the fourth trimester, the postnatal, the golden month, the recovery... this half-dark, half-light period that occurs just after the birth of your child, as soon as the placenta is delivered. Those 40 days, 6 weeks, 3 or 6 months for some, 9 months for others depending on the culture and family traditions, which are both wonderful and so difficult, and which nobody talks about.
So to talk about it, to live it better, I like the idea of giving it as much importance as the Birth project and calling it the After project.
This After project is discussed before the birth, at the same time as the birth project is being drawn up, in parallel. Yes, because each questioning of the birth project will have an impact, a consequence or a role to play in this After project.
It consists in evoking, in the same way as the birth process, the process of the questions that may arise. And there are so many of them!
This maternal guilt that appears when we promised ourselves that nothing would change.
"I've always been independent, I've led my life as I see fit and now I'm stuck with my baby who keeps asking for me. I feel torn between the desire to run away, to go out for a walk alone... and my responsibility to feed him."
Or: "I know that my baby needs me to feed, to touch, to smell. And it is my priority to give him what I know he needs. I feel like a lioness defending her cub. And I neglect my partner, I am sometimes aggressive with him. And I blame myself..."
And finally: "During my pregnancy, I continued to live as if nothing had happened... and now I realise, with him in my arms, that he may have missed out on something, or that he has suffered, and I feel so guilty about it!"
That strong bond with her baby, or lack thereof.
"I'm a bad mother, I don't love my child".
Or: "I feel like a failure with my baby. I don't know what to do with him or what he needs. My mother knows what to do with children, my partner too. He really doesn't deserve me as a mother."
And just to know that it takes time to create that bond and that yes, it's normal not to feel love right away, and that it's okay. That it will happen over time.
And this belief that breastfeeding is obvious, easy, instinctive, when sometimes it's so hard. That you are in pain, that you cry just at the thought of your baby waking up. But you tell yourself that you have to hold on no matter what...
"But why didn't anyone tell me that it was so hard to have your baby at your breast all day and night! To feel completely alienated by him and his needs. And this feeling of extreme responsibility that falls on my shoulders alone..."
"I feel so alone with my choice to breastfeed my baby. Everyone discourages me, and they keep offering me a bottle and industrial milk products. It's hard enough and now I have to fight against the people around me, where everyone seems to know better than me what to do."
And what is this discharge that continues 10 days later, or these contractions when I have my baby at the breast? Is that normal? What about this haemorrhoidal attack that comes on top of my nipple pain? Who do I turn to, who do I call?
"When can I have sex again? I don't feel ready at all, and in fact I don't even think about it, but my partner is becoming insistent and this creates tension. He doesn't understand me."
And those dads who are looking for their place... "Would I know how to change the nappy, give him a bath? It's the first time I'll have a baby in my arms..."
"How do I fit in when she wants to breastfeed him? How can I help my wife, when she is the one who will feed him?"
"How can I live with the evolution of my relationship in this new family? My partner's body will change, I'm afraid I won't want her anymore..."
"And how do I leave them after a few days? How can I go back to work? Would I really want to?"
And this fatigue that sets in and that we must tame, so great and that assails us and seems insurmountable. This fatigue that I have to go through.
"My husband has gone back to work. My family is far away and I feel so lonely with this baby I don't know. I don't even have time to eat or wash."
"I can't sleep anymore... I feel like I can hear him crying when he's right next to me and sleeping. But not me."
All these questions, these scenarios that could happen without warning, I propose to evoke them before the birth, in the setting up of this project of the After. Together we will anticipate and visualise these events. Do as if we were rehearsing a play, act out the different scenes, and find the answers and possible reactions. You will be able to question everything you hear around you about the new life with baby, all the stories.
The anticipated scenography of this postpartum period offers psychic tranquillity during the creation of the mother-child bond. The mother is then more available for her baby, since she knows what can happen. And so is the partner. They have had this information together and both have the keys.
Anticipating the stages to come, measuring the possible difficulties, projecting yourself into this maternity, into your couple will help you to get through this stage in the life of a parent. Give light to this sometimes dark period, hope in the knowledge that everything passes, make the unknown as comfortable as possible.
The doula is there to support you, to accompany you in this stage of your life as a mother, as a parent. I'm just there to listen to you and answer your questions, sometimes bringing up others. And you go at your own pace and according to your own choices and decisions.
When the baby arrives, you will overcome the obstacles that arise by inventing your own solutions. And you will surprise yourself! And you will feel empowered, confident in your instincts, because only you know what is right for your baby.
This Aftercare project is a moment of reflection to be shared together in parallel with the birth project. It will give you strength and confidence in yourself and in your couple.
Flavia NASIO, BloomDoula
My role as a doula is to accompany you through motherhood and parenthood, to answer your questions and sometimes to raise others, to listen to your joys and anxieties without judgement, to just be there, to inform you of the possible choices.
The emotional, practical and logistical support and guidance that I offer throughout these months, from the conception project to the birth and the first weeks of the baby's life, allows me to (re)give you confidence, to inform, to open up new avenues of reflection and to make the link, both between the mother and the baby, and within the couple. This support allows each person to experience this unique event in the best possible way! It is a complement to your medical care.
Is your family growing? I help you to reorganise your living space. I will fit out your house and take care of your work.
Flavia Nasio is a doula in Paris.
Trained at the Institut de formation des Doulas de France, she specialised in birth physiology with Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers, breastfeeding support as well as Spinning Babies, massage and Rebozo Ritual techniques.
She is also an architect and can assist you in making changes to your interior design, from conception to completion.
What is a doula?
From ancient Greece until the end of the 1950s, the doula, known as the "helper" or "washerwoman", accompanied many mothers in giving birth.
It was in 1973 that the term doula appeared in the USA. The emergence of this profession corresponds to the new needs of our modern society: the conscious reappropriation of pregnancy and childbirth.
A doula is a person who is able to accompany you and/or your partner with kindness throughout your pregnancy, during the birth and after the birth of your child over a period of approximately 6 weeks. This accompaniment is tailored to your needs and is provided in the presence of and in addition to the childbirth preparation and/or follow-up provided by the midwives. A doula, for whom?
For you, mother, father, or parenting couple.
Do you feel alone when faced with questions related to childbirth and the arrival of your baby?
Would you like to be supported in the transformations that accompany birth (becoming a parent, couple, the place of the father, femininity, siblings, etc.)?
You would like to be better informed so that you can think about your birth plan, choose the different types of mothering, whether or not to breastfeed, childcare options, etc.? Do you want to have the best baby equipment and essentials without having to carry them around?
Do you want to be supported when the daily organisation becomes difficult (tiredness during pregnancy, bed rest, return from maternity, multiple births, return to work)?
Or you simply don't have the time...
I am here for you, parents to be or confirmed, to accompany you, to support you through a relationship of trust and a benevolent listening.