Meet Chelsea! A busy mom of 2 who offers postpartum support for all of us!
As a mother of two, I found myself having very different postpartum experiences. With my first, I was prepared for pregnancy and birth but thought everything after baby was supposed to be “natural/easy” and “blissful.” I spent a lot of time after my first wondering what I was doing wrong, how I could project the “perfect mom” image even in my struggles, and why it felt a lot lonelier than I had anticipated. It took me two years to really address a lot of the changes I experienced and I found myself frustrated that there weren’t many people talking about the “taboo” in postpartum.When I became pregnant with my second, I knew I needed to be more prepared-knowing what actually happens inside and outside of my body through the pregnancy/birth/postpartum process and how to be more respectful of myself and my needs. I did so much research, and in the process found that most women had that lonely feeling and wondered why they were so under-prepared for postpartum. I knew I had a gap in my own life and saw so many women feeling that same gap. This was the “birth” of Postpartum Together. Postpartum Together is a 10 week program that brings women together to be more educated on the postpartum transitions and it helps women process their own experience in the safety of a small group. We address the taboo topics, support one another with honesty, no-judgement, and space to both look back to process and look forward in empowerment. It really is what I wish I had after my first birth and I’ve committed to giving this gift to other women. I believe that women who are given this space can then live more connected and empowered. That then has a ripple effect on our whole society. Some education on postpartum (We will discuss some of the changes women experience that they may not realize or that they aren’t taught.) What I found in my own experience and through conversations and connections with thousands of women is that we are not well-educated on postpartum and prepared for how we change.While there are a number of topics, I’ll address three big ones:
1. Brain chemical changes-Our brains change in so many ways from conception through postpartum. This isn’t limited to perinatal mental health disorders, this is ALL of us. Our brains create new neurological connections and we are rewired in so many ways. Women feel confused about how they’ve changed, but it is scientifically backed and totally normal. When women realize that they become “rewired” in many ways, they can appreciate all the things they are navigating and the changes they are experiencing.2. Relationship changes-From communication to sex and everything in between (and honestly it’s all intertwined!) women are often surprised at the strain a new baby can have on a relationship. We see pictures of how blissful a family looks and feels and those are very valid and beautiful moments, but there are often very dark and hard moments a couple experiences. Lack of sleep, new stress, changes in roles, household management… so many things contribute to how a relationship changes, and without preparation and support through that, many relationships become filled with confusion, resentment, and distance (perhaps just for a short season, sometimes for longer).3. Identity changes-A woman spends years finding her identity,and when entering motherhood, so many new things take the forefront and priority. Many women have shifts in relationships, friendships, personal time, work, home duties, etc. These things can cause many women to feel like she has lost her identity and is going through the motions. It can be difficult to find time to work through these feelings (which is why we put a huge emphasis on this in our small groups!)Some ideas for postpartum women (We will offer a tip for your relationship with your partner, your relationship with body image, and motherhood comparison on social media.)It is natural that postpartum comes with many shifts, changing seasons, new joys, and new uncertainties. Every new baby is a shift for all involved. However, being honest and proactive can open a lot of doors to minimize the stress from these changes and be more present in the moment.While there are a number of practices that have proven to be effective for women I work with, I will leave you with 3 things I believe can enrich your postpartum experience and give you space for an honest experience through the highs, lows, and every moment in between.
1. Be very intentional about your intake. This goes specifically for social media. You have all the power to decide what accounts, businesses, etc. that you follow. You are responsible for taking in things that give you life and make you feel connected. If you follow something for “inspiration” that actually leaves you feeling bad, it’s time to step away. If you’re following profiles that trigger shame or comparison, step away. Be intentional about how you use social media.2. Address relational tension proactively. Anticipate that long nights, parenting decisions, etc. can bring some tension. Talk proactively about how you and your partner communicate. Set aside time and keep a list of topics you need to address proactively. Remind yourself that you’re on the same team but also you come from two different perspectives and life experiences. The balance is respecting those differences while finding ways to operate as a family unit.3. Commit to always appreciating what your body has done. There are many physical changes that happen from conception through postpartum. As women, we are often very tied to our physical bodies and our perception of them as well as other’s perceptions. When we feel critical of our changed bodies, it spills into our relationships, our confidence, our identity, etc. Find someone who truly understands the changes and how to care for your body (If you want to exercise, find someone who specializes in postpartum and understands body changes.). It can be very tempting to put pressure our bodies at this time, but all bodies change differently and honoring and respecting that is truly transformational.