“You know. I had my babies over 20 years ago and somedays I still feel a little postpartum.”
These are the words a middle aged woman spoke to me in a confident but hushed tone as we waited in line at Carters. She was shopping for her first grandbaby and I was shopping for my own son who was 6 months old at the time.
I was wearing him on my back in a woven wrap and he was sleeping soundly as I quickly bopped through the racks, making my selection and hopping in line before it got too long. She got in line behind me 1 minutes later and commented on how cute my baby was and how much she loved my wrap. She had worn her own sons but they didn’t have such pretty wraps when she had her babies. I explained to her that I am a baby wearing and cloth diaper nerd and a postpartum doula so my love runs deep
She asked the typical questions, “so what exactly does a postpartum doula do?” and had the typical response “I wish I had known about postpartum doulas after I gave birth.” Then she says “How long does postpartum last?”
I explained to her that the medical definition defines
postpartum as the 6-8 weeks after birth. But I also told her that a lot of
women still have physical issues related to pregnancy and birth at 3, 6 and
even 12 months after giving birth. Some moms equate the postpartum feeling with
breastfeeding. So once they have weaned, they say that they feel they are out
of the “baby stage.”
I felt like I was doing too much. After all we were shopping for onsies and I was a complete stranger. But she was listening and nodding intently as I spoke. So I continued…
Postpartum is more than just your physical recovery from
pregnancy and birth. It is more than the baby blues or postpartum depression.
Postpartum has many layers that are all interdependent. Success or satisfaction
of one area of postpartum, like physical healing, can have an impact on your
overall experience and effect other areas like, mastering newborn care.
I could tell that my words were resonating with this woman.
She leaned in close and said in a hushed but confident voice “you know, some days I still feel postpartum. And I had my babies over 25 years ago.”
I was surprised and not surprised at the same time. Not surprised because I had become used to mothers sharing with me how they felt postpartum for 2, 3 and 4 years. How they never felt closure from their birth or had issues postpartum that lingered as time went on.
But I WAS surprised when she said 25 years ago. Surprised and saddened that the way we do birth and postpartum in the United States is leaving women scarred and affecting them for life. Women are walking around holding onto birth trauma. And without that tangible sense of community surrounding their journey to motherhood, they are not able to safely process their experiences.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to dread postpartum, or hope to just survive. With the right planning, preparations and circle of support you can enjoy your time after birth and have a thriving postpartum. And I’m here and ready to help you get started on that journey.