Picture of my son and I : )
I was about 3 weeks postpartum and quite literally on my way out the door of the maternal and child health centre when the nurse I’d just seen asked me; “and how’s mum anyway? Good?”
Up until this point the appointment had consisted of measuring and weighing my baby and all his various bits and pieces, and some questions around his feeding and sleeping. I concluded that it was over- as one does when the door is opened for you and you stand up out of your chair to leave.
The answer I gave went something like;
“really good thanks, tired...but great!”
The truth.... ???
Well that was the truth, but upon reflection, how I was feeling was SO MUCH more complex and this probably isn’t even the half of it, I was;
•madly in love with my new baby, on an oxytocin high unlike anything else I’d ever experienced
•sleep deprived, though not yet feeling the cumulative effects.
•googling the ‘answers’ to everything baby related
•wondering how I was ever going to get off this steep learning curve
•worried why my baby was catnapping when the books and internet all said he should be sleeping longer
•proud and amazed at the care and understanding my husband was showing both me and our baby
•but wondering how long before he might have a moment or two of getting shitty.
•Oh and not to mention recovering from an emergency c section.
This throwaway line from the nurse really got me thinking AND talking to everyone around me with babies or who had had them for these reasons:
•My names Amanda, yes I’m also a mum now and brand spanking new at it too, but first and foremost I’m a person with feelings.
•What if I wasn’t good.............................? Was I going to answer genuinely on my way out the door with the next mum and baby sitting there waiting?
•I thought this was a child AND maternal health visit? Is this seriously my maternal portion of the appointment? Mental health aside, I’ve just had major surgery and am sporting the stitches to prove it!
•When I spoke to other new parents their experiences were much the same, it seemed to be common that the maternal part of maternal and child health was an afterthought if a thought at all.
Now before I go any further this is not a go at this nurse or her profession. Just like about 99% of the health professionals we came in contact with throughout our first week in hospital or the lactation consultant who visited us, the GP, and the various other maternal and child health nurses we saw I was very happy with this particular nurse overall. For what I’m sure are a myriad of reasons, including parents asking lots of questions about their child, and time constraints the focus is on the baby and at the time I was fine with that. It was more just a situation that I was a little bewildered by because even at that early stage I was becoming interested in postpartum health. When I began to research this incredibly transformative stage of a woman’s life and the best ways to ensure that she gets the proper care she deserves I started to come across articles like this one which I recommend you read, if your pregnant, have given birth or know anyone that has. (Yep. That’s everyone) it shows us how much modern, western society has forgotten about caring for new mothers and how much we can learn from less westernised cultures that remain more connected to their to traditional postpartum care practices. Whilst it refers to the modern experience of new mothers in the USA I think there are many similarities to what many women experience here in Australia.
If you’re a mum, anywhere along your transformative journey through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood (1, 2, 3 or more times) The Perinatal S P A C E is for YOU. Don’t hesitate to contact me to find out more.