I recently read “Natural Health After Birth” by Aviva Romm, MD as part of the requirements for my placenta encapsulation certification. I don’t know what I was expecting when I started it but this book is simply phenomenal.
It talks extensively about postpartum and the fourth trimester with all the ways the medical system and society as a whole fails new parents. It talks about other cultures and their traditions regarding the postpartum time, the rites of passage a new mother experiences, and the celebrations at her new role. There’s wonderful herbal remedies included as well, for teas and tinctures and baths.
There were a lot of things that stood out to me but the biggest part was the realness of it all. The author talks about the experiences she went through as a mother and as a midwife, showing concrete examples that reassure a new parent that what they’re feeling is normal. When you feel alone in the weeks after birth, and especially so when your medical team stops checking in after six weeks, it’s so easy to doubt yourself. It’s also totally normal, whether it’s your first baby or your fifth! Anxiety, anger, sadness… that’s all normal as you try to bring yourself into this next evolution of you, the parent version. You need to heal and integrate parenthood into your mind, body and soul and unfortunately there’s not much in the way of support in our culture. Hiring a doula for birth and/or postpartum care can help immensely, as can hiring out household things like cleaning or laundry. In the absence of a village it falls to the new parents to arrange a village before the birth, or for their loved ones to step up, rally around and act as a village.
In any case, you deserve help. There’s no shame or harm in asking for assistance with preparing meals, tidying the house or holding the baby while you shower. As a new parent you deserve so much more than to be abandoned, but our American culture doesn’t have a plan for that. Those of us in birthwork are slowly changing this, advocating and demanding better care, but it will take time. We’re going to get there, though. It’ll be better for future generations.
Side note - the language in this book is quite traditional, with “mother” being the most common term for a person who’s given birth. The author has a small note in the beginning regarding her feelings about the verbiage and says (to the effect) that she understands and supports non-traditional wording but for the ease of the majority of readers she’s chosen to use “mother”.