Postpartum recovery is hugely important – and normally overlooked in our western culture! We seem to have forgotten so much of what mothers really need.
Postpartum recovery after intense events
The massive events of pregnancy, birth and the first days with a new baby are life-changing and exhausting. A woman’s body is stretched to its limits and often beyond, opened up, frequently cut and damaged. She gives up sleep and bodily fluids for her child. Emotionally and energetically she goes on a journey that may involve intense sensation, fear, connection, joy and emptying. She has brought a new person into the world. She has gained a new identity for herself. She has become a mother.
Historically, most cultures have recognised this depth of experience with social and physical postpartum recovery rituals. Newborn mothers will be cared for by female family and friends. They will be wrapped, rocked and fed special warming foods. They will stay indoors, “doing the month”. They will be nurtured emotionally, spiritually, bodily.
Western postpartum recovery care
But for most western mothers, all we get is a few visits from overstretched midwives and health visitors. They will ask about our boobs and bleeding and stitches. They will probably ask us how we are feeling emotionally. They will do their best to make sure baby is feeding ok. They will refer us onto doctors or social workers if they are really worried about us or our babies.
But they will not have time to wrap us or nurture us. They simply don’t have the resources to re-align our bones and ligaments, or to calm our chaotic memories of the birth. They do their checks, and if we seem more or less ok, they move on.
And we are left to try to heal ourselves.
Making up our own postpartum recovery as we go along. Trying to re-invent the wheel.
Learning about what women need for postpartum recovery
I have recently been privileged to learn that there is so much more we can do to enable women to recover from birth. So much that I was never told about before now.
I learned only recently, at the age of 54, that the aches and pains all down the right hand side of my body are connected with pelvic mis-alignment from the births of my children. No one had ever told me this might need correction.
I only recently discovered the benefits of massaging my triple caesarean scar and the tissues beneath. No one had previously taught me that the pelvic organs could be compressed and distorted by over-tight ligaments around the uterus, causing dysfunction and discomfort.
I only learned recently that painful memories of events where I felt afraid and alone could be laid to rest, simply and easily, so that they no longer had the power to disturb and limit me. No one had ever told me before that I could be free from the difficult emotions left over from some of my births.
I am only slowly discovering, after bringing seven children into the world, that I really do deserve honour and respect as a mother. That all mothers need and deserve profound honour and respect.
Mothers deserve better
I don’t want other women to have to wait as long as I have to discover all that they need for a full postpartum recovery. It is never too late, but it is so much better for mothers and families if the healing can happen quickly.
Our babies, rightly, get our full care and attention. But sometimes mothers’ needs seem to be forgotten. There seems to be an idea that a mother should either exist simply to serve her children, or that she should somehow be able to return to her old life and old self as if her children did not exist. These identities are neither possible nor reasonable, but women tie themselves into painful knots trying to achieve them. Why can’t we learn from other cultures and times about how to do postpartum recovery, and nurture and respect mothers as mothers instead?
What is important for postpartum recovery?
Obviously a mother needs to be physically well and able to feed her child. Even this goes far beyond just a quick check of stitches and boobs. Support for full perineal and pelvic floor recovery and help with breastfeeding is often lacking in our overstretched services. But beyond this, women may need diagnosis and help for diastasis recti, pelvic alignment and ligament issues, emotional and psychological distress, and adjustment to a new role and identity.
Mothers should not be afraid or ashamed to seek help with all these issues, and more. Their wellbeing – full and vibrant postpartum recovery – is essential for the future health of their entire families. Mothers are important. Very, very important.
Postpartum recovery support
I am proud to be able to offer support to mothers with many aspects of their postpartum recovery, and I will also refer women to specialist clinicians where appropriate.
I love to offer Closing the Bones, which is a beautiful healing massage, wrapping and ritual. This lovely and traditional treatment honours and respects the newborn mother, closing the pelvis and ribcage after the opening process of pregnancy and birth.
Postnatal Recovery Massage is a treatment combining input from both Ecuadorian tradition and visceral osteopathy. It nurtures and blesses a new mother with a delicious soothing massage, while helping to re-align and treat many of the changes and discomforts resulting from pregnancy and birth.
Three Step Rewind is a method based on Neurolinguistic Programming to enable a person to re-set and heal difficult memories and emotions. Through deep relaxation techniquys I can support and enable you to reshape your feelings about painful experiences and find freedom for the future.
Mother and Baby Yoga classes incorporate gentle and healing postnatal exercise with opportunities for relaxation, friendship and social support. By creating community with other mothers we are supported and helped on our journey.
Karen Lawrence is a mother of seven, Pregnancy and Postnatal Yoga instructor and postnatal therapist. She has previously worked as a midwife and health visitor. To learn more about Karen’s therapies and support for your postpartum recovery, visit https://thecalmspace.co.uk/closing-the-bones-postnatal-massage/