After having had a difficult postpartum experience with my first child (you can read about that here), I was initially petrified to think of having another. When she was about 6 months old, I got rid of all her baby clothes, convinced that although I loved her with a love more intense than anything I had ever experienced, I could never go through “that” again. Fast forward to about three years later, after I started pursuing myriad forms of self care, and I was finally able to fathom going through another pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. By the time I got pregnant, I was referring to myself as “cautiously optimistic”-- optimistic that my pregnancy might not be a miserable period of nausea and self doubt; optimistic that I could have a birth that was not traumatic and where I felt fully supported; optimistic that I might have a postpartum where I felt I could ask for help and not be overwhelmed, anxious, and angry.
I am now eight weeks postpartum and I can tell you that my most optimistic expectations became realities! My hope is that by sharing with you how I managed to turn things around for my second postpartum, other women can benefit from the wisdom of my experience.
You will find below a list of the tools I found integral to this process:
Therapy. This was the first service I pursued upon coming to grips with the fact that I was still in the throws of postpartum depression and anxiety, 2.5 years after my daughter was born. A therapist who specializes in perinatal mental health (perinatal refers to pregnancy through postpartum) can help you learn tactics to cope with the stresses of become a new parent, which can range from feeling like your body is no longer your own to constantly feeling irritated by your partner. Most women in our culture are shocked by how much a new baby throws one’s life upside down. Whether you suspect you have mental health issues or not, I recommend seeing a therapist at least a few times during pregnancy and in the first couple of months postpartum. I promise you, issues will arise! I worked with Leslie McKeough of Core Values, LLC in Lynnfield, and there are many other postpartum specialists on the North Shore and elsewhere.
Posture and Core Work. You can learn more about how posture affects your core and pelvic floor function here. After experiencing chronic pain after my daughter was born, which was exacerbated by incorrect posture, I knew I needed to be exceptionally careful with how I carried myself during pregnancy. I was very consistent with my core and pelvic floor exercise during pregnancy, adapting it as necessary as my pregnancy progressed. MotherTend offers private posture, core, and pelvic floor training; email me for more information!
Chiropractic. A good chiropractor who works with a lot of pregnant/postpartum women is an incredible gift during and after pregnancy! Adjustments realigned my spine and pelvis, allowing me to more effectively hold proper posture and making my muscles fire more effectively during core/pelvic floor exercise. It also turns out that my baby is not a great pooper; I now refer to my chiropractor as the “poop fairy” because every adjustment works it right out! I highly recommend Dr. Courtney Brooks Neill at Inner Source Wellness in Beverly for perinatal and infant chiropractic!
Dr Courtney performing a home visit to adjust mom and baby.
Naturopathy & Nutrition Response Testing (NRT). NRT uses your neurological reflexes and acupressure points to determine what is causing illness or dysfunction, whether it be a pathogen, food intolerance, or nutrient deficiency. An advanced nutritionist/naturopathist specializing in NRT is not easy to find, but for me it has been one of the most life-changing services I have ever experienced. Through NRT, I found out that I was suffering from a parasite, in conjunction with several food sensitivities and nutritional deficiencies. Essentially this was causing me to have a “leaky gut” as it is often referred to in lay terms, which can in turn affect hormones, the thyroid, and basically your entire system. That explains why treatment for the parasite, diet changes, and supplements reversed the extreme weight loss I experienced postpartum and reduced my chronic pain levels, in addition to essentially eliminating my IBS, eczema, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. I fully realize this sounds like an “as seen on TV” type advertisement, but I cannot express enough how much this treatment helped me. Dr. Jennah Dieter at Healthcare Complete in Newburyport is incredibly knowledgeable and caring, and will take the time to answer all your questions!
Build a Strong Support Network. I knew I would need all the help I could get this time around: I found a midwife who was aligned with my birth values, a doula with is both strong and loving, mom friends who “get it”... If you don’t have friends who are already parents, I strongly recommend joining a prenatal yoga class, a local parenting group, a birth class, La Leche League Meetings… whatever you can get to! I wish I had done this before my daughter was born; I was fairly young so my friends had not yet had children. It’s much harder to make new friends during the throws of postpartum anxiety-- plan ahead!
Having a much needed chat with my doula (Jennifer Lynn Frye) about letting go so my labor could progress.
Communication. Communicate with everyone in your support network: your partner, your family members, your friends, your birth attendants… even your neighbors! In a society that often fails to support mothers, it pays to be as vocal as you can about your needs, worries, and desires, leading up to and following your child’s birth. My husband and I had so many long talks after our daughter's bedtime during pregnancy. I felt so connected to him in a way that I had lost during postpartum with our daughter. One thing I have learned from my second run through all this is that nobody can ready my mind. If I want help with something or I’m unsure where someone is at emotionally, I need to ask. Your support people want to help you; they may just need a little direction!
I truly believe that the above was the recipe for success with my second baby. I feel so grateful to everyone who has helped me achieve my dream of a beautiful, joyful birth and postpartum, and I hope these tips and tools help you to have the best experience possible, as well!