Prepared For Labor, Not Postpartum
With my first, I took the class. I was taught what to expect in the phases of labor. I learned the breathing techniques to help ease me through. I understood how amazing my body would be as it stretched to 10 centimeters, so I could push out baby. I even got to master the swaddle, proper hold and diapering of a newborn. I toured the hospital. And, I graduated.
Feeling like we were ready, my husband and I proudly accepted a birthing class completion certificate. Then we were released back into the wild of soon to be unsuspecting first time parents.
When it came to the postpartum phase it was a relatively untouched topic. There was no mention of swollen lady bits, lochia, lacerations, stitches, after pains, or bleeding nipples. No specifics. Nor was there any real consideration for the emotional toll the learning curve and after care would take on my maternal mental health. All of which the aforementioned would greatly influence, especially when combined with a heaping dose of exhaustion.
The lack of awareness of postpartum was a shock to the system. It's a season that was merely alluded to in my birthing class. And rarely discussed in community other than statements urging us to make arrangements for help. That was about the depth of it, and I didn't have that luxury. Plus, I was sure my husband and I could tag team the responsibility of a little one. Yet we had zero idea how demanding it would be on the both of us, and our marriage. So when it came down to navigating the landscape of the first three months, we were in a complete twilight zone.
The 'fourth trimester' is a real phenomenon that women are starting to shout about because we are angry. This is not just the hormones talking. This is a real understated wellness epidemic. And it is coupled with unrealistic expectations for new moms. Other than the two depression questionnaires and an 8 week obstetric check up, it seems no one believes there is a need to make our well being a priority. We are completely uncared for culturally while we are postpartum.
Once we are discharged from the hospital, it's on us. There are no more nurses making sure we take our motrin, filling our ice water, or taking baby to the nursery while we rest. We must learn to ask for what we need from our people. We must learn how to appreciate and affirm love for the newly bloated image of our body in the mirror. We must learn to create space for our healing, and make ourselves a priority. Because as we fill our peri bottle to rinse after each burning pee, it's on us. As we accept the mesh underwear and ginormous witch hazel lined pads as a humbling new normal, it's on us. It's us who must laboriously inhale and exhale through the pain of our first poop. It's us who learns to count our breaths with each excruciating nursing latch. And it's us -- feeling lost in the confusion and anxiety of entertaining visitors who are there to see the baby, and what it feels like only see the baby. We sit in this season wondering why no one prepared us for this lonely portion of our healing.
And then there are companies like Frida Mom who are making it their mission to normalize this season of postpartum. They're creating content and commercials that speak to moms to be, and moms who've been there. Only to have their messaging be denied by the ABC network and the Oscars.
It's no wonder we are unprepared, feel isolated, and perturbed after birth. The movies the Oscars give awards for contain far more graphic images than the reality of bringing each and every one of us into the world. We women are half the population, and the men who love us are the other half that keep it going. So let's stop pretending and start showing society the truth of what to expect when we are expecting. Check out the video for yourself. It's the most real deal representation of life as I have known it, four times now. And for this depiction I am grateful. Way to go Frida Mom.