Postpartum support: what options do I have?
Pregnant mamas spend a lot of time preparing and thinking about their birthing day (rightly so) and invest a lot of time and money into preparing for it. Taking classes, reading books, listening to podcasts, pinning pins, packing their “go bag”, and on and on. The little attention that is given to postpartum tends to be primarily related to how to care for a baby- and mayyybe breastfeeding. (For certain, these are both important things to think about).
I know I’m making broad generalizations, here. But this is based on my experience through my pregnancy and through watching many of my friends have kids.
Why don’t we prepare more for postpartum?
Is it because we don’t know what the hell we are in for?
Is it because we aren’t told it’s important by friends, family, or providers?
Is it because we think we can just wing it with the attitude that “everything will be fine”?
I don’t have the answer for you.
I do know that moms are being vastly undersupported during their fourth trimester (and beyond, really). I believe there are several things that contribute to this.
- We don’t know what we don’t know.
I was lucky and had a relatively smooth postpartum period, but even despite that, I found myself blindsided by the intensity of it all. Emotions, body changes, and healing, lack of sleep, learning how to breastfeed, feeding myself, learning how to care for an infant, bonding…..I could go on and on…these things are only the tip of the iceberg.
It is hard to anticipate how postpartum will feel for you. I also feel like many mamas (myself, especially!) underestimate how profound this life change can be.
2. We feel that we *should* be able to manage on our own.
I assumed the transition to motherhood shouldn’t feel as hard as it did- and therefore “powered through” and tried to self manage. I felt I should be able to do it all because that’s what my mom and friends did, right?
I felt I should be able to handle it all, which led me to feel shame and guilt for being overwhelmed or considering asking for help. (But I’ve since realized that this is far from true and you are not failing if you ask for help!)
3. A lot of us are unaware of the help that is available.
Many moms (and even professionals) are widely unaware of the myriad of professionals that are available to us during the postnatal period.
There are SO many people who spend their lives serving moms and are passionate about helping moms and families to thrive. There are so many different people in your corner and literally LOOKING to share their gifts and services with moms like you.
In order to help with this, I have compiled a list of professionals that are available to you during your transition into motherhood. These are different professionals that you may consider utilizing as a part of your support team for your fourth trimester (and beyond, cause, after all, postpartum is forever, at least in my book).
Without further ado, here they are:
1. Occupational Therapist:
Of course, I’m an OT, so I will start here. 😉
OTs can help postpartum moms in a myriad of ways. They can help with anything from pelvic health and rehab to managing transitions and mental health. OTs can help to implement and integrate the suggestions and information offered by the below professionals into your life in a way that makes sense for you. To learn more about how OTs can help you during this time, I would love to connect!
2. Health Coach:
Health coaches can help to offer you support, guidance, and accountability in implementing and maintaining positive health and lifestyle habits in motherhood.
3. Postpartum Doula:
Postpartum doulas offer support to mom and family in the immediate postpartum period. A Doula may help with to help take the load off of household duties in the postpartum period (cooking, cleaning, self cares, etc). Postpartum doulas also offer emotional support and breastfeeding/feeding support.
4. Dietitian/ Nutritionist:
These professionals can help y to replenish and nourish your body postpartum through food. How we eat and fuel out body can hugely impact every other aspect of our health and wellness.
5. Lactation consultant/ lactation counselor:
Lactation consultants can be invaluable resources for moms. Even if you feel things are going well they can offer education, support, and insight to help ease the learning curve that comes along with breastfeeding.
6. Postnatal Fitness Specialist/Fitness Coach/ Personal Trainer:
Returning to movement and exercise postpartum comes with a lot of variables that are important to consider for your physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing. A fitness instructor or professional who specializes in working with this population can be invaluable to ensure that you are safely returning to exercise when you’re ready.
7. Physical therapist:
There are PTs that specialize in women’s health and can work with you to heal and rehab your core and pelvic floors (some OTs do this as well!). This is not just for those who have had trauma or injury to their core/pelvic floors during pregnancy and birth, any woman can benefit! In fact, I strongly believe that any woman who has carried (no matter if you had a vaginal or surgical delivery) a baby would greatly benefit from a pelvic health assessment from a PT or OT.
8. Counselors/Social Workers:
These professionals can help with mental health, managing stressors, and relationships, and they can offer resources and tools to help you cope with changes and transitions that occur during this phase of life.
There are many bodyworkers that are available to aid and support your recovery from pregnancy, labor, and birth. Some of which include: Massage therapists, acupuncturists, and craniosacral therapists.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the professionals who are available to aid in your recovery and healing postpartum. My hope is that this gives you an idea of the vast number of people who are available and waiting to help you navigate one of the biggest, most profound times of transition in your life.
You are worth investing in.
**You may not want or need each and every service I’ve listed above. But I want you to know these things (and more!) are available to you. It doesn’t hurt to look around and find 1 or 2 providers in each of these areas that resonate with you and keep their contact info on hand.
Be honest with yourself and ask your body what she needs.
There is no shame or guilt in needing any or all of these support people. You are worth it. Becoming a mother is the most beautiful and challenging thing a woman can do.
What do you think? Do you wish you would have had support from any of the above professionals? What areas of life do you feel you do/would have wanted more support in during your postpartum period?
Let me know in the comments or DM me on Instagram @coach_margaret_achu
Note: these are people that are great resources in addition to your OB-GYN/midwife and pediatrician