Dear Mothers and Women.
Let’s unpack what is happening a little deeper. Settle in with a cuppa and a few moments. I would like to share some perspectives with you.
We hear repeatedly about postpartum care being about someone coming to help with the laundry, clothes, dishes, older children and that is true and very important.
Actually I feel it is so important that I created a course for women to plan and create this support structure during their pregnancy. So they can create the space to rest and restore their health and get used to a new baby and Mother body.
But after working and chatting with many mothers and birthworkers I am finding that is often not enough, or there is something else. There is a conscious or subconscious resistance there. And even when we have that support we can’t fully relax and let ourselves be supported!
Let’s understand what is happening in our minds around postpartum support? Or support in general. As these tendencies are not only restricted to postpartum. .Actually they tend to bleed gently into our lives as a whole.
Let’s consider –
Take some time to brainstorm or journal what our beliefs are around postpartum and asking for help?
Go into your mind and become aware of your own self-talk around these topics. What goes through your mind when you have to ask your husband or your friend or your family for help? When you have to ask them to pass you something, prepare something, arrange something, assist with a chore or do something for you that you would normally do for the household?
How easy is it for you to ask for some time to rest?
How do we feel? What goes on in our heads when we do not have energy for something we would normally do with ease before we were pregnant or postpartum?
How does it affect you when you are breastfeeding or lying in bed helping baby to nap and there is a huge pile of laundry to fold and put away, or dishes to wash, or food to prepare or the kitchen is bare and grocery shopping is different and not in your control?
These are some examples that may come up (and are very normal and typical for many women).
“A mother is meant to be able to manage all these things.”
“I'm lazy – lying down all the time with my baby. I should be more active, especially when he/she is sleeping.”
“Other mothers do this all. I should also be able to manage. What is wrong with me?”
“My husband expects me to....”
“I feel like I am weak or a failure if I ask for help.”
“Asking for help is so hard. Can't he see I am struggling? Why doesn't anyone offer to help me in the way I need it? I am a failure if I ask for help or don't do everything.”
“In my culture women carry on straight away after having a baby. They are so strong. Look at her – she is managing it all perfectly. What is wrong with me?”
“A wife should cook for her family. To order take-aways is lazy.”
Or they can look like this
- “Life is hard work.”
- “Life can’t be easy.”
- “Asking for help is a sign of weakness.”
- “Other people are too busy to help.”
- “I am not born to be a mother.”
- “I’m not doing a good job.”
- “I don’t know enough.”
Transforming our Limited Beliefs
You may be thinking yes I relate to some of these thoughts, but what can I do about them? They feel so innate and part of me?
Simply start by becoming aware of your thoughts around these topics at different times. Observe what your default way of thinking about this is and what tends to familiarly go through your mind. You will start to notice patterns. And you will start to realise you are able to change these thoughts.
They are just thoughts. They are not reality. They are bred in the dysfunctional and mirage of a story that is not real and does not benefit us in anyway. It keeps us from embracing freedom, gratitude and harmony.
But it doesn’t have to.
Can you consider a different way of approaching this?
How does your surroundings affect your inner talk or your feelings that are evoked during this time?
By your surroundings I am speaking about:
- social media we consume frequently
- family expectations and roles we assume
- the absence of social support
- our inherited feelings and experiences from growing up within our family
- as well as in the cultural and social environments we grew up in
Before putting the control lever outside of yourself and blaming other people for not coming to the table and offering help or seeing you are struggling, or being the support you crave – lets say you still have control over this and the power is in your hands.
When we go deeper into understanding the way our beliefs affect our external situations and our internal emotional and mental experience we realise we can control and empower ourselves over this in a very powerful and potent way.
And actually we need to grow up into this responsibility and be the change we wish to see. It is totally in our hands but we have been imprinted and imprinting these default disempowering concepts as if they are truths.
This truth is that they are not! And we are deeply valuable and worthy enough to create and own the support we need. It does not mean we are weak. It means we are stepping up to do what is needed so we can not only be available for our baby, who is so dependent on us but also nourished and full so we are healthy and can be the source of nutrition, and bonding our baby needs too.
We start to realise we can change our self talk and our inner lens of asking for help and support after having a baby. But we need to actively change it.
Once we have stepped back and can observe our self-talk for what it is we can start to bring in healing ways of thinking by:
- by questioning our past
- and why and where and when we started assuming these ideas of our worth and role as mothers.
This can be explored within psychotherapy, journalling following powerful leaders and practicing their work and guidance (like Gabor Mate, Thomas Hibl, Nicole Lepera, Dr Melissa Small, Dr Shefali, Dr Kelly Brogan), within sisterhood support circles and my favorite Womb Wisdom as Medicine or a healthy combination of a few.
(It took me a combination as well as working with my nervous system, diet and self-care.)
We can explore deeper into our core beliefs about ourselves and about life.
We can see clearly what are the generational beliefs carried down through our maternal and paternal generations.
We realise how social media has been implanting and growing unrealistic expectations and picture perfect mothers that are not true in so many ways.
We can understand our own patterns of imprinting from so many influences and our own growing up through the years.
Here are some tips to support the process of Reviewing and Reframing our Limiting Beliefs so they can become Nourishing Beliefs.
It may feel unfamiliar and even strange as you re-align your thoughts. You will find behaviours follow thoughts and your habitualised behaviours to your habitualised thoughts also start to change – consciously and unconsciously.
Treat yourself with patience and respect. Challenging your beliefs and doing the work to transform this is deep healing work. You are re-mothering yourself.