Postpartum is a difficult time for many women – they feel vulnerable due to several factors and, unfortunately, this topic is rarely talked about in maternity circles. Everything has both sides and being a mother is no different, despite our culture romanticizing this stage of a woman’s life. In real life, it is a moment that brings many challenges, especially in the beginning, that the woman goes through all the transformations in her body, and has to adapt to a new reality in many aspects on top of having a brand new and helpless little human to care for.
Reconstruction of identity
Not only are physical and biological changes occurring during the postpartum period but there is also a change in the identity, the way we live, and see the future. Prior to giving birth, womxn had their freedom and their plans could be made thinking only about their wishes, desires, and goals. But when you become a mother, you make an eternal commitment and some of that freedom comes to a halt since you now you have a baby and think they depend, almost exclusively, on you. Even with the almost immediate connection and affection, the weight of such responsibility may also bring a feeling of loss due to the lifestyle that seems to be gone.
When the motherhood life begins, there is the process of deep mourning for the farewell of the free and self-possessed womxn, who didn’t have so many responsibilities and who could put themselves first. Many times you will feel overwhelmed. Often, you will miss having time for yourself, taking long hot baths, having a meal calmly, and at your own time, hang out with friends or getting a workout done.
Love is a construction
In addition, unlike the way society dictates, a mother’s love doesn’t always have to be immediate, and it is constructed as in any other relationship. The unconditional love from a mother to their child is always so validated by a society that it is difficult for them to accept and feel comfortable when the experience doesn’t match that imposed expectation. So, it seems that no matter how much a womxn prepares, it is never enough, since in addition to all the difficulties, with love not coming instantly, they will still have to deal with the opinion of others about raising their child. We, as human beings, love predictability and that isn’t something motherhood brings, because each child and every family dynamic is unique, so it is always a novelty and it is normal to feel fear and insecurity.
The importance of breastfeeding
And then, there is still breastfeeding, which despite being a natural process of the body, the new mother may have difficulties. In the beginning, mastitis, clogged ducts, and fissures may develop. Besides being common to feel pain in the first days, even though everything is fine, it will still cause certain anxiety and frustration. Breastfeeding, too, an important role in the construction of the mother and child identity, it is an elaboration of the separation of the two, since childbirth is a rupture in the symbiosis of both. Some experts argue that breastfeeding helps womxn not to have postpartum depression.
In these difficult times, it is important that the mother’s support network does this without judgment, and understand that, often, they will want to be alone and, at other times, they will want someone to stay with the baby for them to do something. But they are the mother and everyone is in much more comfortable situations than they are, so empathy is needed. The mother needs to make their choices without external interference, at that moment, only support and a listening ear are needed.
Postpartum x postpartum depression
It is natural for the mother to go through a phase where they feel upset with all the work demand a baby brings, not being able to sleep at night, and not being able to have a normal routine for a long time. However, you need to be aware of how long these feelings last and whether it will prevent the mother from reconnecting and loving her child. If this becomes the norm, and they no longer want to be with the baby, they feel unable to take care of them and are discouraged from doing things, this can be a good indication of postpartum depression and I would strongly advise seeking professional help immediately.