We’ve all seen the infamous photo of Kate Middleton, posing with her third child and glowing in her flawless makeup and heels, just a few hours after giving birth - and similarly, we’ve scrolled past beautifully shot and perfectly lit photographs of our friends and acquaintances who’ve just given birth, appearing perfectly unscathed and content with her newborn. As these photos indicate, life with a newborn can be beautiful and exciting; however, what these photos fail to bring to light is the truth of what happens just a few hours after birth, at which point mothers are expected to shift their attention and energy into caring for their newborns, while simultaneously managing their recovery. Sometimes in doing so, new mothers overlook caring for their own wellbeing and health, and as a result, mothers experience many dramatic shifts, physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
According to a study conducted within the European Journal of Midwifery, women report that they felt different dimensions of their wellbeing were compromised after having a baby. The study notes that while women were excited about the arrival of their newborn, the stressors attached with early motherhood and infant care posed considerable challenges to wellbeing, leading to physical recovery challenges, low self-esteem, exhaustion, lack of parental confidence, and social isolation. Additionally, some new mothers experience guilt if they believe that they care for themselves more than their newborns, stemming from a misguided belief that if a mother wants to be a good mom, then she must sacrifice their wellbeing in return for prioritizing the care of their newborns. This mentality is both untrue and harmful to both new mothers' and newborns' health, as a mother's health and happiness serve as a foundation for her ability to carry out being a productive and healthy caretaker for her newborn.
Unfortunately, most mothers feel as if they cannot express the negative feelings they experience within the postnatal period, promoting an unhealthy cycle of guilt and isolation. A study conducted within the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health notes that when new mothers feel guilty when they experience negative emotions within the postnatal period. The study explains that society’s expectation for this to be a happy, fulfilling time makes women feel inadequate or guilty if they experience negative thoughts. However, the study notes that these negative feelings are a lot more common than most mothers know. Behind the scenes of the elusive picture perfect motherhood presented on Instagram, new mothers are challenged with a less picturesque reality.
Negative feelings and experiences within the postnatal period need to be normalized. Mothers should know that striving to be the perfect mom while managing their own recovery is an unfair expectation. The expectations of motherhood often deviate from its reality that as it’s beautiful, it can be equally challenging at times. New mothers are experiencing incredible physical, mental, emotional, and role changes. Self-care for mothers should not be perceived as a wishful luxury but a necessary fixture to help mothers as they experience the highs and lows of early motherhood.
Ahma & Co wants to help make self-care easier for new moms. Through our holistic approach to the postnatal period, we aim to create a space that is empathetic to the challenges that the postnatal period poses to new mothers. We provide 24/7 access to vetted postnatal care experts who can help support new mothers in their recovery journey and development of a routine for long-term wellbeing, as well as a space for a community with other new mothers who likely are experiencing similar challenges, fostering a forum and outlet for feelings to be expressed and received with understanding. There is no doubt that the postpartum period can be challenging, but you don’t have to go through it alone. We invite you to join the revolution in postnatal care.