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One Thing That Will Revolutionise Your Postnatal Experience


Black and white photo of a baby lying down with legs in the air. Mum is kissing baby's feet.

Our society is a funny one. In general it values hard work, the ability to ‘handle’ as many things as we can and oddly enough it seems to value suffering. There's a weird one-upmanship around who has it worse, who is working the hardest and therefore suffering the most.



What does this have to do with my postnatal experience?


Well, these general values translate to this time in our lives too. Society places high value on those who ‘bounce back’ to their old life as quickly as possible. It’s almost like a badge of honour to be out of the house and ‘doing’ in the first two weeks after giving birth, to already be arranging KIT days at work, to be sneaking in an online meeting whilst the baby naps, to have all those baby classes scheduled and for you to be booked in with a personal trainer the minute the GP gives you that 6 week sign off. 


It makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it. 


So what is it that would revolutionise our postnatal experience?


Slowing down!


Here me out…


Photo of a baby being held my mum, skin to skin. Baby is resting head in mums shoulder and mum's hand is on his back.

What if we were valued for just being. Valued for staying still. Valued for accepting that this stage of our life is for adjusting, for learning who we are as mothers, for allowing our baby time to adjust to this scary new world they’ve just been birthed into. 


Maybe, just maybe, we’d feel less restless. Maybe the shift to motherhood would feel a bit easier because there would be less pressure. It would help us with believing that this is a learning period, that we’re not expected to know everything and have a ‘mothers instinct’ straight away. What a world of difference that would make to our postnatal experience!


We would do well to learn from other cultures 


There are so many cultures who get it. In Mexico, postnatal mums are cared for by a traditional midwife who provides massages and herbal remedies to aid recovery. In India there’s a 40 day confinement period during which new mums rest and are cared for by family members. They are fed special food and drinks and are given massages whilst visitor numbers are limited.


Their postnatal experience doesn’t sound so bad does it?


Though I recognise we might not all want to be cared for by family members, the general idea is one of total rest and recuperation in those early days. 


So why is it so hard for us to slow down in the postnatal period?


Woman lying in bed with duvet pulled up over her nose. Her eyes are wide open.
  1. Societal expectations As already mentioned the pressure for postnatal mums to resume roles and responsibilities is huge. The household should be effortlessly managed, career and social life should be right back on track. All of this means its difficult for us to slow down and prioritise rest and self care.

  2. Lack of Support Whether it’s a lack of support from professional services (that's a whole other blog post right there!) or lack of a village made up of family and friends, not having reliable help makes everything harder when it comes to resting. It can make us feel overwhelmed, like we can’t rest because we just need to put that wash on or tidy that room up, its all down to us so we can't just stop.

  3. Fear of Falling Behind Sometimes we can worry that stopping and resting means we’re going to lose momentum, whether its career, fitness or social concerns. If we prioritise self-care we may worry that we’re seen as less competent and that means we push ourselves harder and resist slowing down. 

  4. Personal Expectations The desire to be perfect is something that many of us struggle with. We’re surrounded by social media images of ‘perfect’ mums and babies and quite often have been raised to always 'be better' and to 'strive for more'. As a result we can put pressure on ourselves to always do things ourselves (because we should be able to handle everything right?!), to constantly be productive (do your own parents want to know what you’re doing that requires their child sitting services?!) and this all makes rest feel wrong. 


There’s more to our postnatal experience than this. I’m not going to go into where perfectionism and feeling like you’re not good enough come from, or the issue with believing there’s a magical maternal instinct that makes us feel less than if it doesn’t seem to kick in (you can read more on the maternal instinct here). We’re all unique and our own circumstances mean these things come about for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes our expectations have a lot to answer for and you can read more about the impact of these in this blog.


The point is, rest is crucial. It allows us to heal, physically and mentally. It allows us to bond with our baby, to adjust to the new responsibilities and challenges of motherhood. If we prioritise slowing down in the postnatal period we can give ourselves a smoother transition which can only be good for our long term mental health. 


How do I help myself rest?


Next time you find yourself 'doing' instead of resting ask yourself why. Why are you doing that thing now? Do you absolutely have to? Or is it coming from concerns about your house being tidy for visitors or seeming like you can do it all? Whatever it is, this pause to consider your reasons can often be enough to interrupt that automatic cycle we often find ourselves in.


What do you think? Is it hard for you to rest during this period? What has your postnatal experience been like? I'd love to know how you're getting on. And of course, as always, if you have any questions pop me an email to clairejuddtherapy@gmail.com.



Hi, I'm Claire.

Photo of Claire Judd, Postnatal Counsellor, wearing a green shirt with gold edging,.

I'm a fully qualified counsellor in Harrogate and online, specialising in postnatal wellbeing. If you’re struggling, get in touch for a free 15 min call to find out how we can work together.


You can book online here: https://www.clairejudd.co.uk/contact and can find out more about postnatal counselling here: www.clairejudd.co.uk.


Follow @therapy.for.mums on Instagram for information, tips and advice.




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