"It takes a village to raise a child”. How often have you heard this saying?
How many times have you brushed it off as the old ways rather than the modern way? You may not be the only one. In the world today, we are segregated from community. We are expected to get through challenges internally and alone, face decisions by our own thought process and physically are separate from the rest of community by closed doors and forgotten invitations. We are expected to know the answers to all, never ask for help and be rewarded for our strength for ‘marching on’. This has contorted the expectations of newborn mothers and fathers and forced the feeling that they are unequipped to raise their child if they ask for help. This could not be further from the truth and the instinctive desire to be surrounded by loved ones and unconditional support during such a joyous and fragile time should be encouraged.
The newborn life can be one of disconnection. From others, the outside world and sometimes even from yourself. Therefore, it is imperative that families are offered support of all kinds in their first 40 days of postpartum life, and beyond.
We have come to a time where having the highest quality stroller, newest tech car and prettiest cradle is the most important facet of newborn life. I ask you, no I beg you, to change this unintended thought process in your mind. Instead, shift it to the benefits gained from employing services and in a sense, your village for your postpartum phase. Spend the money saved for that thousands of dollars stroller and put it to better use. I promise you it will be worth it. The benefits brought to you, your partner and the rest of your family will create such an enjoyable, full, and euphoric experience of postpartum life.
Below is list of different services worth looking into attaining. This list is not exhaustive and if you have any other services you have found to be beneficial, please send it through my ‘contact me’ page!
I am the first to admit, I can be a bit of a control freak in the kitchen. I like to know what is in my meals and I like to oversee the way they are cooked. However, in a time of postpartum tiredness, saving energy to spend quality time with my newborn and having enough left over for my partner and other children, I wouldn’t mind having my meals organised and cooked for me.
One way to organise this can be through a meal train. If you have a Doula in your support network, chances are she/he has already organised this for you. If not, don’t fear! It is easy to organise via their online platform. Here, your friends and family can raise their hand to cook and bring over meals for you and your family on specific days of the week. They have the flexibility to commit to as many or as little meals as they can.
Another way is to sign up to one of the many companies who deliver food boxes to your front door, including all the ingredients needed for specific meals. There is a never-ending list of companies available, but here are some of my favorites:
- HelloFresh: choices found here
- Marley Spoon: choices found here
- Sun Basket: choices found here
- Home Chef: choices found here
The last thing you should be doing when you have a newborn is focusing on keeping the house spic and span! Do yourself a favour, hire a cleaner once a week or a fortnight for the first 4-6 weeks. You can find many companies who offer competitive prices. This cleaning does not have to be a deep clean where each inch of the house is wiped down, disinfected and dried. However, doing things such as vacuuming and mopping the floors, cleaning the windows, taking the trash out and wiping down your sinks will make you feel a lot better walking through the house.
If you have a toddler or young children already in the home, they require attention and back to back activities to stay stimulated. With a newborn, this is something childcare or a babysitter may be able to help with. It could be as small as sitting with them in the playroom one or two days a week with a bunch of toys and games, or dropping them off and picking them up from school, to even taking them to the nearby park. Whatever you are comfortable with and your children will enjoy, this reprieve will allow you and your partner to spend quality time getting to know your new bub and concreting a bond with them.
If you had a Doula throughout your birth, there is a chance you have follow up appointments with them following the birth to check in and see how you are going. However, there is specialised postpartum doulas who mother the mother. They will provide you with the services you require. This can be from informational sessions regarding breastfeeding, wrapping your baby or calming your baby, to physical help such as lactation assistance, making meals or doing light housework. They can also aid in the specific placenta process you have decided. Placenta encapsulation can be performed and delivered by your postpartum doula should they be trained in how to do so correctly. Depending on your postpartum experience and requirements, they can offer you resources, contacts, and other information and about you need.
Investing in postpartum physical support such as massage, physiotherapy, specifically pelvic floor physiotherapy, or even selfcare and beauty treatments is a great way to keep yourself feeling good and fresh. It is not uncommon (and 100% encouraged!) to stay in the comfort of your pajamas in the postpartum period, so ensuring you have an appointment made to pamper yourself and feel good will be beneficial to get you up and about when you're ready. Many of these services even have mobile options to conduct treatments within the comforts of your own home!
Mental and emotional support through groups
Something I feel is very underrated, and a huge way for you to build your village is feeling out the peer support groups available not only to mums but also dads in your area. These can be culture specific (important if you are in a separate town or country to your family and origins), sexuality based (LGBTQIA), single mum or single dad groups, age based or adoptive parents. The list can go on!
A huge barrier to sourcing a group may be this mislead conception that you don’t need help. It is okay to have support, build your community and find like minded people to connect with. This can benefit both you, your partner, and your baby. You never know, you may meet the mother of your child’s lifelong friend, or someone who becomes your sanity in the post-partum time. Your local council will run a mother’s group that you can join, however there are various other platforms to find mothers groups.
MamaTribe is a great organisation helping to connect mothers to other likeminded mothers. You can also become an ambassador for MamaTribe and host your own events for mothers in your area.
The Fathering Project has a list of father’s groups amongst the schools in certain areas, as well as other father related resources and help.
Dads Group is another fantastic organisation, funded my movember to allow fathers to come together, discuss their struggles, their highs, lows and to make new friends. The result and response from Dads Group has been positively felt by many across the country.
This is a very small list of possibilities that will take the pressure off your postpartum period and bring more joy and ease to it. I would strongly recommend following your gut on what will suit your lifestyle best and help you and your family in the most beneficial way. We are a community; we are a village raising children together. You are not expected to do this alone.