Patholigically independent. Stubbornly insisting on finding my own way. Will power got me through every life struggle....until my first baby was born.
I read voraciously about pregnancy and birth. But NOTHING about Postpartum. I had cared for babies most of my life. How different could it be?
I projected my normal, healthy, pre-pregnant self into every future scenario. I had no idea how I would feel while recovering from childbirth, breastfeeding, and caring for my precious newborn....so suddenly finding myself there was a deep shock.
I was brought to my knees. No matter what I did, I was unable to get it together. I was so emotionally raw and physically tired, I didn't trust myself to say what I truly and desperately needed: HELP! What few resources I had were so focused on the baby, it seemed overwhelming to try to explain why I needed to eat, drink or help with laundry.
My daughter was 18 months old when I read about a "Postpartum Doula." This was EVERYTHING I wished I could have had--someone to gently guide me through the dark night of my soul.... to help me realize that it is impossible to care for your baby if you are not meeting your most basic needs....someone to remind me that, as overwhelming as it is in the moment, it wouldn't always feel like this.
So I became the change I most wanted to see. Truly understanding Postpartum as a separate and distinct life transition, I felt relief. I was not flawed. I was completely unprepared. I didn't realize the impact of not having any support. (Here's a list of lcoal support groups.)
Ultimately, I'm truly grateful for my experience. I learned the hard way, but those pains brought me to one of the greatest joys in my life--being able to help families with new babies.
Childbirth Classes can be the start of an empowered journey into parenthood. While some hospital classes might be sufficient, they rarely compare with independent classes.....Taught by people who don't benefit from you being easy to manage.
You and your partner deserve to know what to expect and what your choices are. This is an opportunity to learn and discuss what your proiorties are. There will be time during your labor when you can't speak for yourself, so your partner needs to be clear on your choices regarding pain relief, cord clamping, skin to skin contact, etc.
Monmouth County residents are fortunate to have many amazing Childbirth Class Resources.
Bend and Blossom offers Hypnobirthing Classes in Rumson.
Birth, Babies and Beyond offers classes in Tinton Falls.
Natural Beginnings NJ offers classes in Spring Lake.
Your Best Birth offers classes in Red Bank.
Mother to Mother offers private classes.
If for any reason you can't take a childbirth class, there are alternatives. Read Gentle Birth Choices by Barabara Harper, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and watch The Business of Being Born.
Once you've prepared yourself for the hours of labor, take some time to prepare yourself for the days and weeks of the fourth trimester!
Postpartum Doula, Breastfeeding Counselor, Mother of Three.