Postpartum Recovery: Emotions & Self-Care
In the second instalment of our two-part series on postpartum recovery, our resident midwife Erin Gregory and postpartum doula Addison Landry discuss the emotional changes that can be experienced during this time and share their tips for self-care.
The days, weeks and months after giving birth can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, with many new and unexpected feelings arising. To help navigate this important time, midwife, childbirth educator and founder of Kinsho Erin Gregory and postpartum doula and founder of Uplifted Collective Addison Landry share their advice for self-care and reconnection during postpartum recovery.
What are some of the feelings that new mums will go through during the postpartum period?
Addison: This is a sacred transition which can bring about a cascade of emotions we may not have felt before. We talk a lot about physical health during the postpartum period, but our emotional health is just as important. Our emotions have a physical effect on our body. You could feel elated, joyful and excited, but also exhausted, lonely and sometimes not good enough. Always remember that your emotions and how you feel during your postpartum are valid and important, and that this is a natural and shared experience.
Erin: When we first lay eyes on our baby, I think we expect to feel an instant connection and intense love. Some women do, but many women don’t. It is normal and healthy to feel a mixture of emotions – overwhelmed, thankful, nervous, relieved and exhausted. The early postnatal days are often filled with text messages, calls and well wishes from family and friends, but at night, as you begin to surrender to the changes in your circadian rhythm, feelings of loneliness are common. Early postnatal emotions are influenced by many internal and external factors, including the birth, the temperament of your baby and how they feed, and who is available for support.
What are some of the ways we can connect back with our bodies during this time?
Addison: For me, connection always comes back to breath, learning to take a pause and reassess. What is so fascinating about the female body is that we are built to hold an energetic capacity that’s 16 times stronger than males. In Kundalini science, they describe the fact that we hold this stronger, more powerful energetic capacity as our ability to create, whether that be a child, art, business or just in the beauty of our own daily lives. I find this such a beautiful reminder that we have the power to create, and therefore connection and growth is so deeply ingrained in us. To support the reconnection process I recommend meditation; self-massage; self-reiki; self-pleasure; and light dance or movement.
Addison’s suggestions for postpartum self-care
Sitting outside in the sun
Listening to music
Having a bath
Taking a nap
Enjoying a home-cooked meal
Calling a loved one Emotional support from a counsellor, psychologist or energy healer
Postpartum doula support
What are some of the best ways to take care of your body during the postpartum period?
Addison: Specialising in Morphogenic Field Technique, I look at healing during the postpartum period through the lens of energetics. Healing needs energy and it also needs the mind and body to be in a rested state, especially in the first 40 days. The focus of the postpartum period is all about rest and nourishment, because the body can’t heal in a deeper way if you are stressed or have a long to-do list. This happens because the energy for healing is diverted to taking care of the stress or the to-do list. The key is to focus on things that draw energy into the body and help keep us calm.
Erin: I strongly encourage women to buy or borrow a postpartum recovery garment. This type of support isn’t new, it’s as old as time and isn’t about creating a ‘flat stomach’ but about encouraging the muscles and ligaments to heal. Drink two to three litres of water a day, and use maternity pads. Remember that you can’t use tampons for your postnatal blood loss. Every day for the first month, spend a few hours in the middle of the day horizontal. Taking the weight of gravity off your pelvis and pelvic floor muscles is essential to your healing.
Addison Landry is a Melbourne-based postpartum doula, energy nutritionist, chef and founder of Uplifted Collective, helping women navigate their way through one of the most redefining moments of their lives – motherhood.
Erin Gregory is tooshies’ resident midwife expert and the founder of kinsho, a childbirth education platform that empowers birthing mothers and partners to create positive, joyful outcomes, with less negative emotional and physical implications.
Read Part 1 of our postpartum recovery series here: Postpartum Recovery: Your body after birth
Related articles with Erin: Becoming parents during a pandemic
Related articles with Addison: Navigating the first 40-days post birth with a doula