Why Selfcare Matters
Welcome to postpartum. A time of tender emotions, mountain-like accomplishment, and perhaps a side of leaky boobs, post-birth sweating, and bleeding. Postpartum is a time of literal blood, sweat, and all the tears. Happy tears even, but tears, nonetheless. I remember giving birth to my first son, who is now sixteen, a junior in high school, and over six feet tall. Although since his birth and wading through the waters of postpartum four more times (two of which were miscarriages), each time was very different, yet so much the same. All of them left me asking, "are we ok?"
In my first post-birth experience, I felt pressured to have this mother thing together. Every parent and caregiver I saw in real life on television seemed to have all the answers and be this oracle of knowledge. I wanted to be an oracle too. However, between finding my footing and regulating the post-birth hormonal crash that simply happens to us all, it was challenging to immediately discover my identity as a mother while attempting to figure out why my newborn wasn't latching correctly.
Both my middle child and youngest had their own journey as well. My middle kiddo latched like a pro, while my youngest's tongue and lip tie prevented him from doing so. And I know one would think I would be prepared for this as a birth doula and wellness expert. By this time, I had supported many parents who were struggling with feeding and navigating everything postpartum. However, while I knew this was a reality, I didn't even consider that, yeah, postpartum and all that comes with a new baby, well, it happens to us all. Birth and postpartum are really magic eight balls every time. It is different and unique, leaving one feeling vulnerable.
Why am I sharing this? I am sharing my story to let you know…
- You are not alone. Postpartum is hard. It is both emotionally and physically challenging.
- Even your favorite wellness expert/ doula (with the knowledge and resources they have) still finds the after-baby phase grueling.
- This, too, shall pass.
I share with clients that postpartum is not the time to be strong or to refuse support. Not asking for help does not make you a strong parent. It makes you a tired parent, something you will experience no matter what. However, there's no need to add to the exhaustion if we don't have to. Now is the time to lean into community and your village.
- Call on your village. I know it's hard to ask for help. But try it anyway. Share with a friend that you feel safe being vulnerable with how you are REALLY feeling. Ask them to assemble a group of 4-5 people who can make/ or order meals for you and your growing family. Food is nourishing and an emotional lifesaver. Especially postpartum. A meal train is a game-changer.
- Ask a friend if they don't mind coming over to hold the baby while you shower and nap. Naps are everything. Even an hour of uninterrupted sleep can do wonders for our mental health.
- Seek out ways to make your life easier. Sure, you can do hard things, AND you are worthy of ease. Both things can be true. One way of making your life easier is through products like the Ember Baby Bottle. I love it because it is the world's first self-warming baby bottle. It does all the hard work so you can take a load off and snuggle with your little one. You can warm milk from your sofa, all with the touch of a button, and it will let you know when it's done. This is ease. This is comfort. All the things you need.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask for help. If your mood begins to darken or you feel just out of sorts, please share this with your provider. You do not have to suffer in silence, grit your teeth, and/or bear it. Your provider should have ample resources if additional support is needed. This leads me to my final point. It is ok to need more. You and everyone who gives birth/parents these days deserve so much more. You are your most prominent advocate. You just gave birth. Give yourself all the things that you need during this time. Here's to all the self-care.
Brandi Sellerz-Jackson Birth & Postpartum Doula
Brandi Sellerz-Jackson is a Writer/Author with her first book publishing with Ballantine/ Penguin Random House. She is a Birth and Postpartum Doula, turned Life Doula, and the founder of #NotSoPrivateParts, an online platform centered around removing the shame and stigma surrounding women’s issues.