Why this podcast?
Last week I began the process of training and certifying as a Postpartum Doula. I love the idea of supporting families right the way through pregnancy, labour and birth and then into the postpartum too.
I definitely wanted to celebrate that step by choosing a postpartum centred episode to feature this week.
It’s so easy to focus so much on the pregnancy and birth that we forget that, actually, after the baby arrives is when the work really starts.
I love that there are podcasts focussed on the postpartum so that families can find the support that they need.
How does it look?
The Fourth Trimester Podcast has a great website with resources, a newsletter and even recipes.
There are fifty-four episodes covering topics like – sleep; the basics of the first few weeks after birth; nutrition and nourishment; fitness; post-birth libido; taking time for yourself and breastfeeding.
Why this episode?
This is episode number two and it seemed like a good place to start. I like that it gives parents-to-be some things to think about BEFORE their baby arrives so that they can –
“make the most of their 4th trimester”
Who should listen to this episode?
Anyone expecting a baby or who has recently had a baby. Even if your baby is older there’s sure to be some great ideas for things to think about for your next postpartum period, even if that’s not yet on the cards.
This episode has a bit of a different structure, it’s almost like an online workshop. The hosts, Sarah Trott and Esther Gallagher, give you some questions to think about which will hopefully help you to prepare for your fourth trimester and offer little tips to help you along the way.
My own tip would be to have your partner answer these questions too so that you can find any areas where you might not be on the same page and resolve them.
At first this can seem a little daunting but actually, it’s pretty empowering to think about these things and come up with some of your own ideas of support structures to put in place rather than just having someone tell you how to do it. A pretty good preparation for parenthood too as those little ones do not come with a manual.
Question #1 – What do you imagine the first week postpartum will look like?
Think about life with a brand new baby. How do you feel physically? Emotionally? Socially?
Esther makes the very important point that close friends, family, even your local shopkeeper, will most likely share their postpartum experiences with you.
Their experiences will not be your experience.
Yes, there will be certain elements that are shared but your experience will be uniquely yours.
Tip – don’t try to research this, simply use your imagination.
Think about –
– How your body will feel after birthing a baby or
– How it will feel to hold your adopted baby
– Picture being in the space that you will be in for those first few days postpartum.
If that’s a hospital you will likely be receiving visits from medical staff on and off around the clock, if you are at home you might have much more time alone with your baby.
– Notice whether you are imagining a mostly positive or negative experience.
Are you happy all the time? Do you feel mainly tired and overwhelmed? Feel what you are feeling but also be aware that you will likely feel a whole range of emotions once your baby arrives and that there is no set way to feel or experience your postpartum.
Question #2 – What experiences would you like to have?
Are there specific things you would like to include in your postpartum period? Certain things you would like to happen? After you have made a list you can then start to think about which of those things could work and which might not be compatible with having a newborn or a body that is recovering from birth.
Esther mentions a family she is currently working with who asked her at what point she felt they could fly long-haul with their young baby. Whilst she doesn’t go into details I feel this is a good example of something that could come up for people. The couple had to think hard about whether they would feel comfortable travelling with their little one and came to the conclusion that they would.
It’s not about what’s right or wrong but about really imagining yourself in the details of that situation and feeling whether it is right for you and your family.
Question #3 – Is there anything you DON’T want to experience?
This one is HUGE!
Is there someone who has offered to come and help you who you know you will not be comfortable with? Who has totally different ideas on baby care or child rearing? Or who you simply won’t be comfortable breastfeeding in front of?
Your postpartum is a time when you should feel comfortable, loved and supported and it is important to work towards creating that experience before birth.
Question #4 – Are you supported?
Who do you imagine will or can help you? What are their strengths? How would you describe your relationship with them? Will they be available?Who is already supporting you? Will they be able to continue to do that after your baby arrives?
I like that this question combines your imagination with the practicalities.
Esther uses an example of imagining a certain person coming to make you delicious, nourishing food but maybe that person talks too much and you won’t be able to rest. What could your strategy be? Could they make meals for you and drop them off?
Sarah recommends making a list of practical things that you need doing so that when someone asks how they can help, you have an answer. And people really do like to help.
On the flip side, is there someone who may be useless on a practical level but who you know you can talk to about any emotions you have and who will listen with a loving, supportive and non-judgemental ear? Someone you can express anything and everything to? Be aware that that person might not be your partner…..
Also, think about enlisting professional help, a postpartum doula for example. So many couples, especially with first babies, feel that their partner being around to help in the first couple of weeks will be enough. If hiring doula is an option for you I’d recommend seriously considering it. Remember that you and your partner will both be new at this. Having someone there to support you both and talk to about any worries or questions can be incredibly reassuring.
To wrap up
This wasn’t a typical podcast episode where you listen and then move on but I like the fact that it asks you to really think about your postpartum period and all that it will entail.
Just as with birth, nobody can know for certain how their postpartum experience will be but preparing for the experience you want is really key.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this episode and how your postpartum experiences were.
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.