Tag Archive for: matrescence

Nurturing the Fourth Trimester

I had a very special visitor in the clinic last week. A two week old baby girl (and her mamma of course).

I was privileged to have mamma trust me to provide her with specialist pregnancy massage during her first pregnancy two and half years ago and was honored that mamma returned for regular treatment throughout the duration of her second pregnancy. In fact, mamma even got her last pregnancy massage with me while she was in the early stages of labour at 38w and 3 days! (Luckily I didn’t have to step in as a birth attendant, and this mammas second child was born later in the afternoon) But I digress…

I was excited to have such a new visitor in the clinic. Mamma has been experiencing neck and shoulder stiffness from lifting, carrying, and nursing her infant. It is a common pain to be expected when you are caring for an infant, but by no means should a mamma “have to” put up with it. Mamma was optimistic that baby would be asleep during the treatment, and I suggested we “go with the flow”. If baby gave us half an hour for a treatment, great! Then we’d look at getting to 45 minutes and then the full hour. Just seeing how baby goes with being in a new environment I accommodated mum and baby as best I could. Through most of the treatment, baby wanted to be close to mum. I treated mum while she lay on her side and nursed her baby. Mum was able to relax, baby was able to feed, and I was able to treat the neck and shoulders with ease. Mamma even came back the following week, with her little baby in the carrier. This time, baby decided to sleep (with the help of a little white noise) and mamma was able to enjoy an hour long luxurious treatment, melting into the table and fully relaxing.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

In a postnatal massage, things don’t often go to plan. Mum may not be able to lie on her tummy for various reasons, such as discomfort from abdominal stitches following a cesarean, or soreness in the breasts. Or baby may decide that they want to cluster feed. The massage treatment can be performed side-lying so mum and baby can cuddle.

At By the Bay Therapies, we are passionate about empowering women to achieve exceptional health during pregnancy, and into motherhood. Are you ready to book your next treatment? Click here!

Belly Birth – Remy’s Birth Story

I am a proud belly birther.

When I was preparing for my birth, a cesarean was the absolute last thing I wanted to do.

However, as the day of Remy’s birth drew near, and I thought more and more about our options, I decided that if a cesarean was needed then I would go with the flow.

As it turned out, we had a cesarean. I told the doctors as they were getting the paperwork ready for the operation that I wanted it to be called a “surprise cesarean” rather than an emergency cesarean because, there was no emergency or life-threatening factors attached to the cesarean. The simple fact was my waters had broken hours ago and risk of infection was increasing, Remy was stuck, I was at 6cm and we were all exhausted and wanted him here already.

I was wheeled up the theatre, dosed up on drugs and waited for my baby to be born.

I had my favorite artist playing over the stereo, and I tuned into the music as the doctors did their thing.

I heard Remy’s cry and I teared up. He was finally here, and it was over. Nine months of waiting all brought down to a single moment. They bundled him up and handed him to us to hold while I was stitched up.

My baby was in my arms and that is all I needed. How he got here did not matter.

Having a cesarean is not an event it’s a journey. It is major surgery and takes time to recovery, physically and emotionally. There are days where I feel tenderness and pain around the scar. And there are days where I look at myself in the mirror and feel disgusted by my body. And then, there are days where I have freedom of movement and am proud of myself and my strength and my ability to birth my baby.

If you were to look at me nurturing, feeding, playing with, and loving my baby, you would never know the birth journey we had.  You would only see and happy mum and a thriving bub.

Be proud and stand strong, my fellow belly birthers . You are warrior women!

The 1 Thing I Did Not Plan For During My Pregnancy

**Disclaimer: This is my personal story and journey with postnatal anxiety and depression. I am not looking for advice or opinions regarding my personal journey. I have professional support and a strong friends and family network. **

During pregnancy you do a lot of preparing for baby. You buy furniture, bedding and linen, cute little baby clothes, nappies, a pram and various items to make the home a safe and nurturing place for your new bundle of joy.

I did all these things. I prepared to bring my baby home and love him and nurture him.

What I did not plan for was the possibility of getting postnatal depression and anxiety.

In the days after Remy’s birth I was extremely emotional. And I figured it was normal. All of the hormones, lack of sleep and joy that is the rollercoaster of a newborn. I was like, “yep, it’s just the baby blues.”

BUT – the tears lasted. What I thought was normal anxiety about my baby’s health and wellbeing spiraled into depression. I can vividly remember on a Sunday afternoon being curled up in bed, sobbing inconsolably, while Remy was crying as well, and my partner had to soothe the both of us. Not only was I overly emotional and sleep deprived, but I was also telling myself horrible things.

Things like: “I am rubbish at this”, “I am a terrible mother”, “Remy deserves better than me”.

The scariest thoughts for me were thoughts of just packing up and leaving in the middle of the night or taking Remy to my parents’ and just driving away.

The new role of motherhood was something I never could have prepared for. The loss of independence, putting my professional career on hold, being stuck on the couch breastfeeding, and being covered in spew. I did not have time to eat or go to the toilet some days. I did not feel like myself. In fact, I had completely lost my identity. No-one asked about me anymore. All questions were directed at Remy. How is he sleeping? How is he feeding? Is he gaining weight? Is he happy? I became invisible.

The turning point came when I was at the 6-week Maternal Child Health appointment for Remy. Our MCH Nurse, Karen, asked how I was doing, and I burst into tears. Karen listened to how I was feeling and requested a mental health care plan with my GP. I felt relief and fear simultaneously. I was relieved to know that someone was looking out for me and wanting to help me. And fear because I felt like a failure as a mum.

Once I recognized that I wasn’t coping, I put a few things in place. As well as seeking counselling, I arranged for post-partum support with my doula. I told my sister that I wasn’t doing well and now she checks in with me daily. I arranged with my partner for some “Laura time” on weekends and arranged with my parents for a break during the week. I made the plan to return to work.

I now feel as though the dark cloud of depression is lifting. I am crying less and not having big emotions all the time. I can see the difference between the good days and not so good days. I am being kinder to myself. I am talking to my sister and partner when I am not feeling so good, instead of keeping it to myself. I am getting counselling.

I know I am not “cured” and I still have a long way to go. I am in a much better place now. And I know that if I keep doing what I am doing, reaching out to my support network, I will be able to be the mother that I need to be for my child.

This week is PANDA week, a week dedicated to raising awareness on perinatal mental health. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men experience perinatal anxiety and depression. Strong Independent Men and Women Ask for help and accept help. If you are not feeling yourself, and think you need support, speak to your GP, MCH nurse or a trusted friend or family member. This is the first step in feeling better. It’s hard to do, and so important.

Important Contacts:

PANDA National Helpline (Mon to Sat, 9am – 7.30pm AEST/AEDT) 1300 726 306

Lifeline 24/7 Crisis Support 13 11 14

Beyond Blue Support Service  via telephone 24/7 1300 22 4636

The #1 Thing You Must Ask All New Mums

I’m going to cut right to the chase with this post. I am going to be extremely vulnerable and put myself out there and be seen. I hope that in doing so, this will help other mums too.

The transition for motherhood has not been an easy one for me.

I am dealing with postnatal anxiety, which feels like it is impacting every aspect of my ability to cope as a parent, and as a person. I am seeking support from professional services and have an amazing support network in place.

I love my son so much and feel grateful for him every day.

There is just one thing I ask all those out there that have a friend or family member that is a new mum (or even a second on third time mum).

ASK HER HOW SHE IS GOING – REALLY

And ask her this BEFORE you ask about the baby.

She may say she is “fine” and that is OK. Not every person wants to go into the full extend of their psyche. And most often we have trouble asking for help.

But just ask the damn question.

Drop off a meal, groceries, or other personal care products, without her having to ask. Leave it at her door and send her a text message to let her know you are thinking of HER not just her baby.

Call her and talk to her and don’t ask about her baby for the first 10 minutes of the call. Never ask her if she has a “good” baby, or if the baby sleeps through the night. These questions are annoying and dumb.

A new mother is going through a massive change. She has lost her identity, her interests, her paid job, her hobbies. and she has gained a huge responsibility, a job that does not have immediate gratification, no time to figure out her own needs and wants and desires.

So as lockdowns start to lift and you want to visit your first who had a baby during the pandemic, maybe ask to hold her first.

The 3 Ways Doulas Nurture Families

When I told people I was pregnant, one of the questions they asked was whether I was going through the public or private system. I explained that I was going public and that I had a doula.

The next question I got asked was “What’s a doula?”

Jake Peralta from NBC’s Brooklyn Nine Nine describes a doula as a “Vaginal Gandalf”. The term is funny, and true.  The role of a doula is to provide practical and emotional support for the mother and father and to guide and coach them through the process of childbirth and parenthood.

I know that my pregnancy and parenthood journey would not be the same without the support from Beth McDonald from Popbellies Doula Services. In this blog, I share my experience and the ways that Beth supported my pregnancy and transition to motherhood

The Pregnancy:

During my pregnancy, Beth helped Tim and I to manage our expectations and understand more about the process of childbirth. Beth has an incredible amount if knowledge. And we really needed the support. Yes, we had done a childbirth preparation course, but this was months earlier and we had forgotten a lot of the things we were taught about the stages of labour, the hospital system and how to advocate for the type of care we wanted to receive. Beth helped us to feel more confident is saying “No” should a situation arise in hospital that did not sit right with us. Beth helped us develop of birth preferences. And in the lead up to my induction, she provided us both with a bit of TLC. For me this was in the form of a spicy, decadent hot chocolate to sip on to support a natural induction.

The Birth:

Due to COVID restrictions, Beth was unable to come into the hospital to physically support us during the birth, she was still involved every step of the way. From the moment my waters broke, to getting an epidural, to the time we made the decision to have a cesarean, Beth was there to help us work through the big decisions that come with childbirth. Tim says that the birth “did not go to plan”. My perspective is quite different. It is because of the support from Beth that I felt empowered with our decision making during the birth. Yes, I had planned on an active labour. I planned for massages and hot showers and heat packs. My labour was different to what I expected. And I believe that Beth’s support in helping me to advocate for myself and my birth helped me to feel good about the outcome of my birth experience.

The Post-Partum:

It is safe to say that describing post-partum as a roller coaster of emotions is a severe understatement. Nothing could have ever prepared for the emotions, physical pain from my abdominal surgery and sleep deprivation that comes with parenthood. I have Beth to thank for supporting me through some of the big emotions that come along with the transition of Matrescence. During this stage, Beth was able to provide practical support in the context of light cleaning duties, which as we all know, cleaning goes out the window when a little one arrives. But for me, I just needed someone to talk to. I called Beth at all hours when Remy just would not settle, and I was at my wits ends as to what to do and I just needed to sleep. The non-judgmental support of an impartial third party was so important for me as I let the freedom to truly express how I felt about the jarring transition to motherhood.

For my family, I know that I could not have had this done this pregnancy without the support of a doula. I would encourage all new and expanding families to engage with a doula for non-judgmental, emotional, and physical support. I truly feel that I would not have the positive experience of birth (despite it not going to “plan”) and motherhood if I did not have Beth with me every step of the way.

If you are pregnant and think that the care and support of a doula could help your family, I highly recommend Beth McDonald. For more information about Beth and how she can help your family, visit her website: http://popbellies.com.au/