It Takes A Village

The Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond Show – Call in the Village

Why this podcast?
I wanted to feature a podcast that I hadn’t listened to or written about in a while and I decided on this one. The other post featuring this podcast was about postpartum depression and is definitely worth a read.

I love the fact that The Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond Show comes from Australia as the vast majority of the podcasts I have discovered so far have been American. By the way, if you have recommendations for more international birth podcasts, I’d love to hear from you.

The podcast’s byline is –

”Bringing you the latest and ancient wisdom on maternity care and beyond and covering all things sacred women’s mysteries through news, interviews and great music.”

What’s not to love?

There are various hosts but the main ones are Annalee Atia, a certified Integrative Nutrition Health & Wellness Coach, trained plant-based chef, speaker and writer.

Lara Martin, a mum and the woman behind Conscious Birth and Sally Cusack, mother of two, founder of PBB radio and a member of Maternity Choices.

How does it look?
With around a hundred and twenty episodes there is definitely a good range to choose from. The podcast is actually a radio show broadcast each week and episodes have covered areas such as the emotional side of fertility issues, birth as a hero’s journey, mindfulness for peaceful parenting, breastfeeding after breast cancer, from couple to parenthood, abortion, pelvic health care, an Ayurvedic approach to pregnancy and postnatal well-being and cravings during pregnancy.

Why this episode?
The postpartum period, especially those first few weeks, is intense. You’re tired, you’re not sure exactly what your baby wants and if you’re breastfeeding it takes time to be confident that your baby is getting enough milk.

It can be pretty overwhelming.

And whilst this is normal, it isn’t something we necessarily expect.

I know I thought it would all be pretty straightforward and easy. I was absolutely going to be the most relaxed mum ever. It’s not rocket science, right?

But oh was I in for a surprise.

Now, I breastfed and it went fine. However, it was still a learning process for both my son and I and not just physically. I remember so clearly thinking how much more reassuring it would be to start with a certain amount of milk in a bottle and then see it empty at the end of a feed. To know exactly how much milk he was getting and that it was enough.

I’m pretty tidy (ok, slightly obsessively tidy) and the idea of just letting the house go and focusing totally on my baby was hard. Too hard. I didn’t do it. I tried to do everything I normally did AND look after a baby. Not a great plan.

And as for food, I clearly recall one night not even managing to heat a can of soup but eating chocolate spread on bread.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful time where you are falling in love with and getting to know your baby but it’s also hard.

Having friends, family and neighbours helping out so that you can focus on your baby can make such a difference.

Who should listen to this episode?
Probably everyone who is expecting and all of their friends and family!

The episode
The episode begins by addressing, in a very open and direct way, the fact that new parents, learning about their baby, operating on little sleep and being needed 24/7, are often in a state of stress and possibly not even thinking straight.

In that frame of mind, it’s so easy to doubt yourself.

The guest on this episode is midwife Jayne Alder. Jayne has been a nurse for over forty years, and a midwife for more than twenty. She is also a mother and grandmother.

I think it’s safe to say she has some experience in this field and now spends much of her time educating mothers about and supporting mothers during, the first three months of the postpartum period.

The fourth trimester as she likes to call it.

So, what are some of the misconceptions about life with a newborn?

People think newborn babies sleep pretty much the whole time.
Newborns actually sleep in forty-five-minute cycles, the first twenty of which are a pretty light sleep.
Hopefully, they will then drift off into a deeper sleep but they may not.
When they are not sleeping (and often when they are) they will probably want to be close to you.

Lying in
This sounds like a pretty old-fashioned concept but it’s wonderful.
Jayne recommends staying home for two weeks after you birth your baby. Sure, go for some gentle walks around your neighbourhood but mainly, just hang out with your baby at home.

Sleep when your baby sleeps
If your baby is sleeping try and take a nap too. It’s not always easy, there are dishes, there’s laundry, the place is a mess, but those things can wait.

Better yet, visitors can do the dishes or hang the laundry or run the hoover around. Most people will remember how challenging this time can be and will be only too happy to help.

It’s ok to hold your baby
Your baby is also making a huge transition from life in the womb where it was dark, warm and snug to life in the big, bright world. Being close to you, smelling you, hearing your heartbeat and voice will all be incredibly reassuring.

The best thing to do, according to Jayne, is to try and make your home environment as womb-like as possible. Low lights, quiet, lots of time just cuddling and feeding.

Rushing around, cleaning and running errands do not a womb-like atmosphere make but might go a long way toward giving you an unsettled baby.

Talk to your family if they are nearby or friends and neighbours if they’re not. See if people can help out by bringing over meals, doing a bit of shopping or helping with some household tasks.

A note from me, encourage your partner to talk to your baby often during your pregnancy. That way the baby will also find their voice comforting and you can grab a nap while they hold the baby.

If you can, Jayne suggests letting your baby find the breast themselves. After the birth, your baby can be put on your chest and most of the time, they will find your breast and latch on without too much interference.

Lying on your side to feed your baby can be very relaxing (especially if sitting up is not comfortable after birth). The more relaxed you are the better breastfeeding will go. If you follow safe co-sleeping guidelines you can also just stay in bed with your baby once they have finished feeding and have drifted off to sleep and you can catch some sleep too.

Rest, by the way, will help your milk supply.

On the flip-side, if you feel that breastfeeding is not going well then seeking help and getting the right support is key.

There’s no right way to do anything
What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you and vice versa.
I love that Jane goes on to ask new mothers to follow their own instincts. This isn’t something that is always easy to do but try.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

If you feel you need help, ask for it.

“It takes a village to raise a child”

 How can I prepare for my fourth trimester?
– Organise or ask a friend to organise, a meal train.
– If people ask you how they can help, tell them.
– Arrange for someone to come regularly and take your older children out for a few hours.

How can I help someone who has just had a baby?
Apart from making meals that can be thrown into the freezer, a great rule is this –

If you are visiting someone with a newborn don’t sit there while they get you a drink.

Get your own drink and get them one while you’re at it.

Make them a snack.

Do any dishes you see.

Hold the baby while the mother has a shower.

Tidy a little.

Ask HOW you can help not IF you can help.

Little things mean a lot.

To wrap up
Those first few weeks and months after your baby arrives are a very special, unique time. It’s a wonderful but also a challenging time.

Your life changes so much and it’s so tempting to try and do everything that you used to do but don’t.

I love the concept of a fourth trimester. The first months are a huge transition for both you and your baby.

Treat it like the special time that it is. See your home as a cocoon, a nest. Make cuddling and feeding your baby the point of your day.

I wish I had done more of that.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences postpartum. Did you have lots of help? What was the best thing someone did for you? Did you do everything yourself? How was that?

Other podcasts on this topic
The Fourth Trimester Podcast

The Postpartum Podcast

The Pregnancy Podcast – Bringing Baby Home: The First Few Days

Birthful – Your Postpartum Plan

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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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