When a baby is born, so is a mother.
Often the Aftercare isn’t talked about for the mother, it is usually just for the baby. I feel that this is a great disservice to families as it is such a massive life changing event that affects every aspect of a women’s life. Until having Isla and receiving such wonderful care in those early postnatal days, I didn’t realise how important and helpful it was for my own recovery, adjusting to be a family of 4 and my mental and emotional health!
In terms of support, I had my hubby home for 4 weeks, my mum come and stay for the week after Sam went back to work, our wonderful midwife, Marlene, provided support for 6 weeks and Peta, our doula, also provided support up until 10 weeks postpartum and I saw a Women’s Health Physiotherapist from 5 weeks postpartum. I find it sad that I am considered ‘lucky’ with the amount of support I received.
My Aftercare started pretty much after birth. While we didn’t plan on having a homebirth, it was really nice being home and staying together as a family.
Despite leaving us about 12 hours before, Marlene came back to check on us AND she was able to snip Isla’s tongue tie. Being so young, it was super quick and easy with minimal crying from Isla. If you haven’t heard about tongue ties before, they are definitely something that can affect breastfeeding in particular the transfer of milk which in turn can affect their growth. It is also so painful for the mother and can result in cracked nipples, blocked ducts and mastitis. After being released, Isla did have to relearn how to feed with her increased tongue movement so there was some ongoing pain and I had to ensure she was latched correctly but there was no further grazing of nipples (hooray). Considering I had two weeks of struggling with Emily’s tongue tie resulting in cracked nipples, pumping and oversupply, this was amazing to have this option!
Peta also surprised us with a care package of fruit, veges, tea, a special bottle to help with toilet time (you know the kind I’m talking about) and healing herbs. This was so useful as we weren’t ready for Isla’s arrival so weren’t stocked up with groceries at all!
Marlene then came over every 3 days for the first week and was also contactable by phone. We had completely forgotten what it was like to have a newborn and already she was so different to Emily so we may have touched base with Marlene A LOT. Each appointment with Marlene (which was at our home), Isla was weighed and we spent time checking on her and my recovery. I felt supported and empowered after each appointment as there is nothing like someone encouraging you every step of the way when you are feeling vulnerable (especially with that wonderful cocktail of hormones and sleep deprivation!).
Isla was a classic newborn who slept most of the day and feed all night! Sam helped by giving me at least 2 hours in the morning to sleep and taking care of Emily. Still most of these first few weeks are a blur for everyone.
To be honest I really struggled going from 1-2 children! Having a new baby (while being exhausting) wasn’t the hard part, it was caring for my second, continuing to connect and spend those meaningful moments together when all I wanted to do sit or sleep or zone out!!
Having two children meant there was no sleeping when the baby slept or just accepting those cluster feeding hours and just sitting on the couch. Meals still had to be made, helping Emily transition to being a sister, keeping her entertained and going to her usual activities was HARD! Add in some big 4 year old feelings and I had to find patience and compassion in an already running low tank! Being able to share the load with Sam meant that while those early days were a struggle for us all, everyone was cared for (us included).
Peta came to visit us a week after Isla was born to check in, provide support and we talked about the postnatal support that she could provide. Prior to birth, Sam and I didn’t think that we need any extra support as we had been through having a baby before. However once Isla was here, our opinions quickly changed as we remembered how hard that newborn period is. Peta identified that with Sam being home and then my mum coming, I had good support for the first 5 weeks so she offered to come back once Sam and my mum had left and to provide 2 hours of whatever I needed whether it be help cooking, cleaning, playing with Emily or just holding Isla.
After 4 amazing weeks, it was time for Sam to head back to work (which I was so sad about) and my mum flew up to help out for a week. This was great as I started doing much more but still had another hand if necessary. Plus Emily and her are two peas in a pod so they loved spending time together. Mum really helped out in all ways from domestics, entertaining Emily and holding Isla so I could do things like go to the toilet, shower or get dinner on!
And then it was just the 3 of us. Coordination of everything became key – early showers, meal prep in the mornings and thankfully Isla moved her cluster feeds to 7pm so that dinner could be made. Although it was pretty basic. Dinner times were hectic as we were all pretty tired by the evenings. So when Peta came around for her visits, she helped me create over 10 meals that I could freeze and pull out as needed. This was a game changer for almost 3 months afterwards. It was also spending time with her that I realised I needed to get out of the house for more than kindy drop offs and shopping. I needed to start finding my mum tribe and have real conversations again.
It was also around this time that I started seeing Claire, a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, from Body and Birth Physiotherapy as my pelvic floor definitely wasn’t what it used to be (thank you Isla for being head down and low for most of my pregnancy). I also found out that I had abdominal separation of 8cm, which is quite significant. We were able to focus on restrengthening my pelvic floor and core and starting some safe, rehabilitative exercises. It also helped me start making connection with my body again. Between my knowledge as a Kangatraining Instructor and her specific guidance to my recovery, I was able to ease back into exercise safely.
As time went on, I felt stronger physically, my hormones had settled and we had found our groove with our new addition.
With all this support, I really feel that I was taken care of. So often Mum’s get lost in this whole process and we need help as well. We go through tremendous changes both physically, mentally and as a family. For me, my village was everything!
Missed the first two?
Part One – Preparation. Check it out HERE
Part Two – Birthday. Check it out HERE
If you want any information about my amazing support team please head to:
Marlene Morgan at MIDWIVES FIRST
Peta Tuck at PETA TUCK BRISBANE DOULA
Claire at BODY AND BIRTH PHYSIOTHERAPY