Welcome beautiful Momma! I'm so proud of you for caring for your baby, inside or outside the womb.
Come sit with me, tell me what is troubling you today about this daunting journey of motherhood.
I think that most of our troubles as moms come from a very deep lack of support. We have a baby and we isolate ourselves at home to prevent germs and because face it we are freakin' tired. This is a relatively new way of bringing home a baby. In the past and in other cultures that are not America 2018, the family consisted of extended relations and often your family or your husband's or both lived in very close proximity, maybe even in the same house. Yikes!
Now, in some ways we might have it better now, medicine and sanitation have made it the best time to have a healthy baby, but emotionally it maybe the worst for the mom. Many women can give birth without ever having held a baby before. This can be very stressful when you have no experience and someone places this new life in your arms and expects you to be responsible for it. No matter if you have a baby in this way or through foster or adoption, you now have a new set of challenges ahead of you. Isolation may feel safe at the moment but in day three when baby won't stop crying and your hormones are trying to figure out what just happened, you are in deep.
Isolation may be the norm but we need help for this very wild ride called Motherhood
A few years ago I discovered that my family was a key part of the founding of Brooklyn! I discovered that one of the houses that my great (x12 or something) grandfather built was still standing and I was excited to cross the bridge and step back into history. The Wycoff house looks so funny on a triangle of land in between car dealerships and check cashing places. I stepped into the old stone building and though it was a chilly fall day I felt warm and light. There was a very simple dutch style hearth.
There was no fire in it, it would never meet safety codes today since it is simply on the floor. But suddenly I realized the connection I had with this family from the founding of this country. Motherhood. There were pots and fires and cooking and caring done right here. There was a major difference that I couldn't help thinking about. She had come from a village to a colony. She had sisters from church and family members who knew how to welcome babies. She had support to become the warm center of the household, just as that hearth was. She wasn't alone to figure out how to care for the children who would eventually lead to my dad and then me. She had people to care for her and answer her questions.
SO what do we do today, we have options. Postpartum depression is chemical and hormonal but studies show that mothers with support recover more quickly or can even prevent the symptoms. If the depression does show up, moms with support get help faster and worse scenarios of moms hurting themselves or their babies are prevented. So here are your three ways to help prevent Postpartum Depression:
1. Before birth and after, read and watch ENCOURAGING things from people who parent like you hope to. Writers who tell you to follow your intuition and articles that refrain from complaining about how hard it is, unless they follow up with ways to have joy in motherhood.
2. Call on your village to help. Most moms no longer have family living with them but you may have some nearby, or a church family, or your good friends who want to see that baby. Find yourself a group of women who can guide you or even who you don't mind seeing your dirty undies. If you can get some women who will sit with you and fold your laundry while you share what is hard right now, that is your colony, and it is priceless for emotional support.
3. Trust that you know what is best for your baby. This might not be right away, you might need guidance and some trial and error but I assure you,babies are really resilient. There may be 100,000 ways to do a bedtime routine or feeding schedule but you will know when it is right, for you, and your family and your baby.
You are the warmth at the center. Your baby will know he or she is safe in your arms and heart.
Paula is a wife and mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula