Pouring the extra measure of care and intention into families through our Lying-In practice has been life-changing - for our clients and for us as midwives and doulas. Mothers are healthier, happier and are healing in such a beautiful way. Amber and I are leaving homes on oxytocin highs, knowing that this work we are doing is truly GOOD.
We have decided that this is the kind of love and healing-support we want to pour into every family we serve, and so every family choosing to work with Southern Minnesota Midwifery and Nourish Midwifery will receive a midwife-supported Lying-In as part of their care.
Your body has done A LOT in the past weeks and months and will have some wounds that need to heal. Here is a peek into how to support your body while it does the important work of closing those wounds.
Expect to bleed, off and on, for six weeks after birth. Postpartum bleeding is typically the result of:
The appearance of your bleeding will evolve throughout your lying-in, from deep or bright red to pink/orange/brown and finally to thick, white and creamy.
Note to self: If bleeding that has stopped begins again, ask yourself if your body needs more rest. If the answer to that question is “yes”, take the time needed to give your body the rest it is asking for.
Suggested Therapies: How to Support Your Body As It Works to Stop Bleeding After Birth
Here's a downloadable reminder, if you'd like one.
Great job taking care of yourself and your baby, mamas - keep up the good work of healing!
Tips from local mamas, midwives and other healers, on preparing for a healthy 4th trimester - happy postpartum planning!
7 Steps to a Great Postpartum Period - Aly Folin, CPM, LM, North Star Midwifery
7 Things You Can Do with Your Placenta... Instead of Tossing It - Erin Piorier, CPM, Geneabirth
Postpartum Freezer Pads - Twin Cities Midwifery
Postpartum Doulas - Minnesota Birth Center
Real Moms' Top Tips for Your Postpartum Kit - Alisa Blackwood, Blooma Yoga
These words were written by Amber LaBancz - midwife, massage therapist, beautiful mama and a million things, more.
Motherhood- it is/can be all of the things that we are told that it is. Beautiful and magical and serene.
It can also be really damn hard. We’ve been told that motherhood is romantic and beautiful, and that we just fall in love with our new baby every minute of every day. We may feel those things, but we may also feel exhausted, inept, overwhelmed, and sometimes even a little bit resentful. We don’t always expect the leaking and crying and emotional roller coasters of those early days. I mean, people mention that these things can happen, in a glossed-over kind of way, but then you hear them praise the women that are shopping and doing laundry just two days after giving birth. We want to be superwoman too. We want people to know that we’re that tough too. We want people to know how much we love our baby and our new life by showing them how quickly we can “get back to it:” And we have something to prove to ourselves too.
Most women have a vague sense that they will need to have some down time after baby comes, to recover physically. It is hard enough for women to even accept any help for this physical recovery, so when we start a conversation with them about their emotional or spiritual selves needing care and tending and ask them what their postpartum plan is, we often get a blank look. “What do you mean?” is the most common question that we hear. Because here in the US we don’t have a framework for caring for new mothers and new families. Women are made to feel that they must be Superwoman or otherwise they are somehow failing or are being overly needy. Put on the happy, well-groomed mask and show the world that you can indeed do it all! And here’s the thing, you probably can. But at what cost?
Feeling exhausted, sad, missing our “before baby” lives and loving our baby harder than we thought it possible to love, are feelings that can exist side by side in our minds. We can feel the overwhelm and still love our baby like crazy. Life and emotions are not black and white things. We can love deeply, but also be deeply exhausted. We can feel so much love that we feel like our hearts are either going to run over or explode and at the same time feel deeply empty and overwhelmed. All of these jumbled feelings can stand side by side. They can all exist at once. And we can feel one way one minute and the complete opposite the next. We HAVE to create a safe space and community for ourselves. Ask yourself, who are your people? Who are your “I’m a hot-mess, I don’t even love this day”, people? Who are the people who can understand that you can love your children endlessly, but still not love everything about motherhood and parenting, people? Who do you trust to come into your home, take a look around, and roll up their sleeves because they know what needs to be done? Who will give you a hug, or brush your hair, or tuck you back into bed?
What if we told you that it is your responsibility to your baby to take care of yourself? It’s not a selfish thing to do. What if we said that building a tribe, a village, is actually part of your job. That it’s ok to ask for or need help. That it’s necessary to have a supportive community. That we as humans are built for connection, for interdependency. That because we are always giving, we must also receive. That if we don’t receive, our children, our families, our friends, all of our other work, will suffer. I mean, truly suffer. So, what if we said this is not a selfish desire, but a part of our job title as a parent. It is our job to create a framework, a network of people we feel we can receive from in a way that goes far beyond our physical needs of a clean house and meals. As new mamas we kind of need the same things our babies do. We need to lay our head on someone’s shoulder, have our backs rubbed, sleep deeply, and have someone bring us nourishing food and drinks. We need to be held. We need to not have all the responsibility of running a household. It’s really just the smallest window of time. We need to be able to depend on others during this time.
Becoming a mother (or a mother once again) expands us as human beings. It stretches and grows us. It is a transformative, right of passage experience. We are also expanded and made more whole when we allow people in. To be a part of our experience, to help us, to offer unconditional support to us, to put gentle hands on us and take care of us, to bring us healing foods and drinks. When we love ourselves enough to allow people in, when we create a village for ourselves and our children, we allow ourselves to grow, to have bigger love, we are able to offer even more of ourselves in return. Creating a foundation of support is a gift to ourselves, and in turn, a gift to our families. We are not machines, we are spirit. Invest in yourself. Nourish yourself, mama. Love and care for your body, your mind, and your spirit. We need to take back this ancient way of viewing the postpartum period and caring for women and make it new again. We need to honor it and ASSUME that women will take this time to heal and restore. In this way we can begin to create a cultural shift, so that ALL mothers can take the time they need to renew physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Referred to by many as The Fourth Trimester, postpartum is commonly defined today as the six weeks that follow the birth of a baby.
In the United States, we PREPARE for birth. We attend classes, we talk with other families, we tour birth facilities and interview potential care providers - we hire doulas, we read books and we create gift registries. Very few of us, however, pour any measurable effort into planning or preparing for our postpartum period (aside from setting up the nursery and talking with Human Resources about our PTO).
Today, in the United States, many of us push ourselves back into the same routines we'd had prior to giving birth, loooooong before we are ready. Physical and emotional exhaustion can lead to a wide variety of health problems - including postpartum depression.
Each year, in the United States, nearly one million women are reporting their experiences with postpartum depression (http://www.postpartumprogress.com/how-many-women-get-postpartum-depression-the-statistics-on-ppd).
Here, in the U.S. many women state "lack of knowledge" as the reason not to start or continue breastfeeding (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52688/).
Contrast our modern-day American experience with other cultures around the globe where, traditionally, mothers and their families are cared for daily by members of their community: grandmothers, aunts, friends, neighbors, or even a person or team of people hired by the family to help. In these post-birth traditions, new mothers are fed foods and drinks that nourish their healing bodies, they are massaged, bathed and supported emotionally into their new role as "Mother."
At Southern Minnesota Midwifery, we've placed a high priority on supporting families in and through postpartum. We have AMAZING postpartum doulas as part of our care team (each family working with Southern MN Midwifery has postpartum doula care included in their home birth package). We do our best to stay current in new breastfeeding and postpartum research and continually work to build on our foundation of traditional postpartum care practices.
But, last winter, Amber and I bonded over a cup of tea and a shared passion to DO MORE. How can we, as midwives, better support families after baby's birth? How can we, as midwives, reach out and support families within our broader community who are choosing to give birth with other midwives, doctors or unassisted - in hospitals, birth centers and homes? From that shared passion, an idea and a partnership were formed - Amber and I decided we would create and participate in our own little experiment. We asked ourselves, "Would things be different if today's mothers were cared for in a traditional lying-in period?"
Hypothesis: With focused planning, a loving and supportive community and a team of skilled care providers checking-in, new mothers will more easily transition to life after baby.
Our goals are very simple:
Throughout the month of October, we will be talking about little other than the postpartum period.
We'll also be gifting our Lying-In to three beautiful families, so stay tuned!
Well, it’s official: Summer has ended and autumn is upon us. Kids are back to school, leaves are beginning to turn and there is the faintest hint of chill in the air. This summer was wonderful, but we are ready for autumn and its perennial promise of new beginnings. Here’s what’s new at Southern Minnesota Midwifery.....
I think that's it!