What is “the postnatal period”? How long am I “postpartum”?

I’ve just finished writing Postnatal Pilates – I cannot wait for this to be available as a resource for mums to take ownership of their physical and emotional recovery after birth. But, what exactly is “the postnatal period”?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It is not a small window of time that exists after you have a baby. It’s not a finite period where you have temporarily become a mother. It’s not a brief stop in your journey along the way. Often I’m asked “am I still postnatal?”, or “I had my baby two years ago so I’m not postnatal any more”…but, in my view, if you have ever had a baby, you are postnatal. Always. For the rest of your life.

The word “postnatal” is misunderstood – swept under the carpet, banished, humbled, belittled. We try to narrow it down to an arbitrary period of 6 weeks. Something to get through, to pass, to deal with and then move away from and “get back to normal”.

But – you have changed. Your body, your heart, your mind has changed. Forever. You have experienced your matrescence.

It’s true that a very important and intense period of postpartum healing occurs in the few weeks and months after you have had your baby, when you’re riding the hormonal and emotional rollercoaster and often in free fall, blindfolded. When that settles and an equilibrium is found, you’ve completed your metamorphosis. Often, though, the physical healing journey is ongoing – particularly if you’ve had a caesarean birth or otherwise experienced physical or emotional trauma.

You may be craving getting back to “regular life”. To have this postnatal period end and become “normal” once more. But please be gentle with your new self. The postnatal period doesn’t end just because you’ve stopped breastfeeding, gone back at work or once you fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. You will indeed be labelled by healthcare and some fitness professionals as “no longer postnatal”, but this undermines the fact that the physiological (and psychological) issues of pregnancy and birth may have a long-term impact. Never allow yourself to be fobbed off because you had your baby “ages ago” but are still suffering from a weak core or pelvic floor issues. Investigate these things rather than wishing they would just somehow go away.

You will be strong, vital again. You will have energy. You will find your identity. It may simply take a bit of thought and love. You’ll get there. And you’re not alone.

If you have any questions or just want to chat about your journey into motherhood, get in touch! xxx

#matrescence #motherhood #honestmotherhood #birth #postnataldepression #ptsd #newmum #perinatalmentalhealth

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