This week I have kept being reminded of how important it is to get your past in order before welcoming a new baby into your family.
It all started when I met with a birth doula friend of mine and she mentioned how common it was for women in her care to suddenly call out for their mum while giving birth. If there has been some unresolved issues in their past or present or their Mum is sadly no longer around it is all the more certain that this is going to happen. The Mongan method of Hypnobirthing also talks about the importance of unpacking our past and releasing hidden fears or issues before the birth as they can act as a block during the birthing processing even stalling labour. To me it seems like the importance of ‘unpacking’ and letting go is just as important for a successful and enjoyable postnatal period as a satisfying birth.
I have a friend who recently birthed her second baby, the labour was great and the baby is a dream, feeding well and even having the courtesy to nap when his older sister is napping. When I first visited Mum I was expecting to help her debrief from the birth and perhaps even discuss how her older child was coping but instead she felt like she needed to debrief about her experience of the early days with her older child. This baby had an undiagnosed tongue tie and some very serious latching issues which lead to a lot of pain and worry for Mum and a failure to thrive for baby. She ploughed through some very dark days before she was able to get the help she needed to have her daughter properly assessed and begin to work on their issues. The tongue tie was revised but the pain, worry and guilt were all still lurking unknown to her, deep down in her heart and it all came flooding back to her with this new birth. She wasn’t able to be proud of how great she was doing and how well her nursing relationship was going this time until she finally met again all the problems she had experienced before and heard the magic words she knew but perhaps didn’t really believe “this is not your fault, you are a great mum!”
In some cultures in South or Central America women preform a Closing Ceremony where mothers are ritually bathed and then ‘tucked –in’ with shawls and blankets which are wrapped around them over their head, chest and pelvis. It symbolises their body being ‘closed’ and marks the end of the pregnancy and birthing process. A woman can do this any time after the birth of her baby, even years later and still find that it can help them to ‘unpack’ their pregnancy and all the life changes which that can entail.
I really can see how valuable this could be, even in our modern society where this kind of ritual can look a bit silly. What we are really talking about is taking time out, stopping to reflect on where we have come from, meeting these feelings with an open and raw mind and then gently putting them down, not forgetting about them but releasing them and leaving our hands free to meet the challenges of our next great adventure.
Hello, my name is Celeste. I am a postnatal doula, a breastfeeding counselor and a mother.