There was a time when you would be surrounded by your mother, sisters, grandmother, aunts and female cousins during not only birth but for the first few weeks after baby's arrival. Other cultures still have a period of “lying in” in which mother and baby spend their time mostly in bed bonding and being nurtured by others.
Unfortunately, our culture has become one that values moms to “bounce back” as soon as possible, out shopping and doing household chores within a couple days and back to work within a few weeks. These are completely unrealistic expectations and thankfully women are starting to push back. There is no such thing as returning to the pre-baby life.
Another problem with the postpartum period is that most of us no longer live close to our mothers, sisters and grandmothers so in essence we have lost our village of support. However, women have started to build villages for each other by providing birth and postpartum doula care.
A postpartum doula will help with the transition into parenthood by offering services such as:
maintaining a calm presence
education about postpartum and newborn care
help with sleep cycles
light household duties such as folding laundry and doing dishes
snack or light meal preparation
observation for postpartum depression or anxiety and appropriate referrals as necessary
Families who have support for the newborn period generally report less stress and may be at less risk of developing postpartum depression or anxiety. Unfortunately there isn't much support for the postpartum families here in the Helena area but I am intent on changing that. I have started facilitating a monthly Mama's First Year Support group at The Lotus. Recently adding in home postpartum support to Helena families, I am passionate about the health and well being of newborn families. When families are well adjusted, communities thrive.