The Importance of Having a Village Postpartum
Little could have prepared me for the loneliness of new motherhood. Even if someone told me, I’m not sure I would have been prepared for the isolation you feel at 2 am and you’re alone trying to get a tiny baby to latch. At that moment, the world feels very far away and out of reach.
During this time, especially during the 4th trimester but even beyond that, I realized the importance of leaning into a support system because I literally could not do it all. No matter how much I wanted to be able to. It was during this time that I began to truly understand the phrase, “It takes a village.”
Everyone’s village looks different and definitely how we lean into that village varies. I live 20 minutes away from my parents who are both stable and in good health. Naturally, my village looks different from a mom who lives across the country from her family or whose parents are not able to help for whatever reason.
Regardless of your situation, I think there are several things to keep in my mind when building your village: who is available? Who are you comfortable with? What kind of support do you need? Who do you trust? With that in mind, your village might look something like this:
For me, this was mostly family and a few close friends. These are people who could physically come to my house if I needed them, and they were people who I knew I could show all the messy sides of postpartum to. About three days after giving birth, I went to change my underwear and just started peeing. On the floor. And I couldn’t stop it. Your inner circle is the people who can see you with your boob hanging out and help you clean up your own pee.
Asking Google questions gets scary real fast, so especially early on, having friends who were also moms of small children was super helpful. If nothing else, they validated how I was feeling and what I was experiencing. “Your 6 week old isn’t sleeping through the night yet? Girl, that’s normal!”
I also think it is important to find a way to bring professionals into your village. This might be your OB, but I think it is even more beneficial to include professionals like postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, or pelvic floor therapists. Now, these things aren’t in every new mom’s budget, and they weren’t really all in mine. But that leads me to my next suggestion for a mom’s village
The great thing about professionals that specialize in postpartum care is that they understand the struggle for new moms to get out of the house or afford the support & care they need. That’s why a lot of them have engaging social media platforms and groups to provide free and easy to access support. I follow a ton of different lactation consultants, baby-led weaning experts, pelvic floor PTs that are so helpful. Again, when you’re alone at 2am trying to get a baby to latch, an Instagram post offering some tips might be your saving grace.
My village would’ve been incomplete without my friends (who aren’t moms themselves). These are the ones with the freedom to bring you coffee, drop everything to come hold your baby because you have the flu (which really happened to me at 3 weeks postpartum), and provide some necessary non-infant-related conversation. Your whole identity changes when you have a baby, so it is nice to remember that you are still your own person.
Honestly, I wish we lived in a world that automatically provided all moms with the necessary resources–mandatory paid leave, postpartum care beyond a 6-week check-up, insurance-covered pelvic floor therapy to name a few.
But unfortunately, we don’t. So for now, it takes a village.