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Mindful healing for the newborn mum

By Jane Close IN Connect

“We live in a society that likes a perfect happy ending…You are the creator of this happy ending, something that you sculpt from your individual interpretation of events unfolding.” – The Mindful Mother, Naomi Chunilal

While mindfulness techniques are a powerful tool for pregnancy and childbirth, they also really come into their own after birth, when it is an important time to heal. Whether you are coming to terms with your birth experience, confused by all the advice about babies and breastfeeding, or just overwhelmed by the new love blossoming in your heart, a mindfulness practice can really make a difference in this precious recovery phase. Not only can it ease any stress or strain you are feeling, it can also build on your natural enjoyment of the wondrous child looking up at you.

It could be as simple as; 

Bringing attention to your surroundings while feeding your baby, sipping slowly on a morning cup of tea and engaging all of your senses, or trying to bring awareness to your thoughts and mood, and any pain or fatigue you might be feeling.

‘Noting’, where you name a sensation, mood or thought, is one useful technique for releasing the grip of what we are experiencing. This exercise can be a great opportunity to interpret life with a sense of humour and bring a bit of light where it is needed. It’s up to you how you name your experience – as long as you are being kind!

Women can feel a tremendous amount of pressure to be the “perfect” blissful mum. The reality is, most of us have days – days on end, in some cases – when we find it incredibly tough. Caring for a newborn baby is taxing on the mind, body, and heart. Let alone doing so while trying to regain strength after childbirth.

On top of the physical healing process that all mothers must go through, there is the emotional processing of what can range from a magical to a traumatic experience.

Accepting what you have been through is the key. Talking to others openly (ideally, your midwife or someone present at the birth), ‘noting’ your emotions and thoughts in relation to the birth, and practicing meditation or gentle post-natal yoga, are all ways you can take ownership of your experience and maximise your recovery. For mothers who believe they might be suffering PTSD from a traumatic birth, it is strongly advised to seek support and there is a range of support services available through Birth Trauma Australia.

The wonderful thing about mindfulness as it relates to the inherent challenges of motherhood (and indeed childbirth) is that its aim is not to erase or avoid difficult experiences and create only pleasant ones, but to accept and bring our full attention to all of them. Through acceptance, we can learn so much about ourselves and others. So all of our experiences, whether they make us feel vulnerable, empowered, sad, or happy – or a mix of these – can be seen as an opportunity to connect with our humanity and develop compassion.

While it cannot be overstated that recovering from birth requires the support of loved ones, it can also help to source extra support from within, by practicing mindfulness, which can help break thought cycles and release emotions.                              

The sooner we can heal any emotional or physical scarring from birth the better, because this will free up energy and time to rejoice in what is a remarkable triumph – the arrival of a new life, the reason we went through it all in the first place. 

Jane Close

Jane Close is a writer by nature. Forever seeking the deeper meaning and the truer tale. In her 20s, Jane’s passion for true stories and people from different backgrounds drew her into the world of journalism, where she churned out articles on topics from the arts to politics for Fairfax community papers in Melbourne.

A thirst for adventure then took Jane to Japan, where she spent four years chasing and telling the powerful story of Okinawa and Okinawan people (among other topics!). Now 33, and mother of two, Jane works as a copywriter, helping organisations and businesses tell their truest, most meaningful stories.

Jane has always had an insatiable interest in spirituality, which she has explored through reading, travelling, asking lots of questions, and going on a Vipassana meditation retreat while pregnant with her now 3 year old son. Since becoming a mother, Jane has learned (sometimes the hard way) just how important it is to practice self-care through mindfulness exercises such as yoga and meditation.

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