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Reclaiming Postpartum: Permission to Heal, Boundaries to Thrive

While I was scrubbing my bathroom this morning, muttering obscenities under my breath and feeling altogether very sorry for myself for having to give up a sunny Saturday morning to clean toilets, I started to think about postpartum, which admittedly I do an awful lot of lately.

I thought about all the times I would have just gotten the baby down for a nap and was finally about to get five minutes to have a cuppa or even wash myself. Then, the phone would ring with somebody announcing they were going to “pop round” to see the baby. I’d stutter and want to scream “NO,” but my boundary-less, people-pleasing self would agree and then set about frantically scrubbing and cleaning, lighting candles, and pulling mugs and snacks from the cupboards to fake some sort of normalcy and portray myself as supermom. Sometimes, there were tears and cursing, and sometimes these actions happened on autopilot because I believed this was how it should be.

After all, we are living in a patriarchal society where perfectionism, constant productivity, and a go, go, go attitude seem the only way to win respect and to “get” anywhere in life, in career, and in motherhood.

But, and this is a very big but, we are also living in a society full of burnt-out, stressed mothers. Women who are burning the candle at both ends and are suffering from postnatal depletion, postnatal depression, loneliness, anxiety, and exhaustion. We are a society that devalues women’s work and motherhood and does not support maternal mental health or postpartum recovery. Everything is ok once the baby is healthy and mom bounces back – until it isn’t.

So, I wanted to let you know that you have permission to say no to guests, to ignore the laundry, the dishes, and the toilets! You have permission to heal in comfort and bond with your new baby without interruption or stress. You have permission to ask for help, especially from your partner. You have permission to stay in your nightgown all day and all night if you so choose, and nobody – I mean nobody – has the right to tell you otherwise! You get to choose your normal.

Society should not dictate how you manage life with your new baby, and it certainly should not have the right to tell you how you should think, feel, or look in early parenthood. This also applies to well-meaning mothers, in-laws, and friends! Setting boundaries is a form of self-care, and planning your postpartum during pregnancy will allow you to think about what you want for this journey and to express your wishes to others.

In my opinion, we are beginning to move towards a better society where slowing down and being present in one's life is becoming more popular. We should ask ourselves why people are choosing to live a more relaxed, less complicated life with less stuff and less daily grind. I believe it is because this new modern way of life is making people sick; stress makes people sick. Stress is not conducive to happiness.

If the idea of a slower postpartum sounds like something you might want, feel free to get in touch. As a postpartum doula and nutrition and lifestyle coach, I can support you in achieving just that.

I am also running an online postpartum planning workshop in July if you want more information on that or to book a spot just shout!

Much Love

Jen xxx

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