Postpartum Secrets: Tips from Experienced Parents03 April 2023 | Before Your Baby is Born | By Marta P.
As a parent of two I often think about the things I wish I knew before I had my children, so that other new and expecting parents could learn from them.
This is something that doula Marta Palombo, who facilitates circles for new and expecting parents, often hears as well. Today, she will tell us about some of the answers she has heard in her circles.
Marta is a doula, yoga teacher and facilitator in circles for parents and babies. Originally from Italy, Marta has been living in Berlin for 7 years.
Let's hear it fro Marta:
In the circles that I facilitate for present and future parents, it regularly happens that someone in pregnancy asks the group:
"What is it that you wish you knew before your baby was born?"
Sometimes more exposure is desired to stories of birth and postpartum, to normalize these experiences and remove some of the “mystery” around them.
Here are some answers I have heard.
Postpartum recovery can be a lengthy process
There are bodies that recover quickly after giving birth, and others may take several weeks or months to fully recover. Often this is known in advance, and yet many experience a sense of impatience, and sometimes struggle with body image issues after birth. It's essential to give your body the time it needs to heal, and to get to know and inhabit a new, powerful, changing body.
The pelvic floor can remain weak for a long time
During pregnancy and childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles can be stretched and weakened. Whenever someone reports episodes of incontinence (involuntary passage of urine, gas or stool when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising), there is usually someone else in the room who is relieved they are not alone in this. The way the pelvic floor recovers is often related to its state before pregnancy. Keep in mind that pelvic organ prolapse is much less common, and that pelvic floor exercises and physical therapy are usually successful in bringing the area to be again strong and healthy. It is normal that this may take a few months.
Postnatal exercise or special pelvic floor classes can help. See our list of postnatal yoga and exercised classes in Berlin and in English.
We don’t need to be desperate before looking for support
New parents often expect sleep deprivation, and know that babies need frequent feeding and attention. What could we do to cope with this? What can be simplified or prepared in advance? Before we get overwhelmed, who are some friends, family members, professionals to whom we can reach out for help? This includes the support of midwives, lactation consultants or breastfeeding groups whenever this becomes difficult.
Check out our article on postpartum support for new families in Berlin.
Mental health and self-care are priorities
Postpartum anxiety and depression can be experienced by many new parents, to various degrees. This includes racing or intrusive thoughts, and worries that we may be able to recognize as excessive but remain present. Being open to talking about what is going on can help to spot signs and symptoms and receive help. Remember that postpartum anxiety and depression are illnesses and can be treated.
Changes in the relationship between partners
The arrival of a baby can bring significant changes to a relationship. This is often intertwined with lack of sleep, hormonal changes, breastfeeding and physical changes. Sex can also become more difficult for some time. What can help is to remember that you and your partner are a team, and to communicate openly and honestly about your needs and feelings.
These challenges can be present at the same time as the parents are madly in love with each other and with their baby. They are not a sign that something is wrong with you, but that you are in a challenging labor of love.
Each experience is unique, and seeking support and connection can make the journey lighter!
To learn more about Marta and the Mother Village circles she offers, check out: https://every-body.berlin/mother-village/
Learn about the different types of postnatal exercise classes and 'Rückbildungskurse." Plus a list of Berlin courses offered in English.