Postpartum Story by Ellke-Lee Neal
Written by Ellke-Lee Neal @ellkalee
I struggled a lot in the first 4 months postpartum. With the expectations around “bouncing back” when you can’t be physical, not being able to take the baby for long walks in the pram or carrier like I’d envisaged, not being able to go out and show my baby off with my mum group or friends. And mostly, the taboo nature of 4th-degree tear and therefore the lack of knowledge others had around the recovery process.
I’d often get asked, “aren’t you glad you didn’t opt for the caesar”, which hurt a lot as if what I’d endured was the easier of the options. Not being cleared for intimacy with my husband for 5 months was also an emotional hurdle, not so much for the exhausted mother 😅 as we all know there is a lot of tiredness and touched-out feelings that come with mothering, but it was extra guilt I carried not being that for my husband during that period.
One major blessing I had postpartum was the support of my beautiful Mum cooking me endless nourishing meals. Additionally, the blessing of being forced to be slow and inactive meant that my “me-time” was often in the kitchen preparing breastfeeding snacks that supported both my body and mindset through this period.
Fast forward 11 months of fortnightly physio and I was finally cleared to live life normally and try for another baby when ready. We have now had our little daughter and with much consideration and planning, a completely different postpartum experience.
We meal prepped to the limits of our freezer, took things slow and without expectation and made it clear to others that we would be inviting visitors into our space when we felt ready. I had my blood work done and hair analysis with a naturopath 8 weeks postpartum to check what deficiencies my body was experiencing and was then able to work on them with both intentional meals and supplementation support.
I learnt a lot following my first postpartum experience, the greatest being that our society needs a shift in perspective that our role as support people is to hold the mother, not the baby (unless at the request of the mother). I also learnt that most first birth experiences contain some element of trauma and the period of accepting, adjusting and re-emerging postpartum is a process that cannot be rushed for anyone.