Couples usually develop a birth plan, but far too often they forgot to develop a plan for the postpartum period, says a Dubbo holistic counsellor.
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Tayla Matthews from Bloom Holistic Counselling says there are three basic things women need to feel supported after having a baby - financial support, a connection with other adults and mothers, and a fair division of household tasks.
"A lot of the time when people are planning to have a baby the focus is really on birth and the birth plan. That's all very valid and needed for sure, but quite often the postpartum is really overlooked," Ms Matthews said.
"That's because so many of us are from older generations who are encouraged to have your baby and then you get up and you get on with it."
But Ms Matthews, who was previously a postpartum doula, is urging people to think about the postpartum period.
As a holistic counsellor, Ms Matthews works with women from preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. She stepped into the role after having her own baby and experiencing the identity shift from maiden to mother.
After navigating her own challenges and utilising a holistic counsellor herself, Ms Matthews says she could "see how much women are struggling and how much support is needed".
One of the issues Ms Matthew is seeing is an imbalance in household tasks.
"For a lot of us, we've been raised to believe that once you're a mum, you're at home and it's your job to look after the house and your partner's job to not do anything, essentially. That's burdening the mother even more and it's an impossible standard for her to keep up with," she said.
"But because it's such an internalised message that it's our role, when we're not meeting that we start to internalise that as we're failing. Then that shame and guilt really comes up for us and we feel that we're a bad mum or a bad wife."
Being able to sit on the lounge with your baby not only gives your body a chance to heal at the time when it's at its most tender, said Ms Matthews, but it also helps to produce oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love and bonding hormone.
Having financial pressure to return to work rather than being able to care for your baby at home also pays a role.
November 12 to 18 is Perinatal Mental Heath Week. It aims to reduce the stigma around mental health, while also raising awareness and providing information.
Ms Matthews hopes the week helps mothers realise if they're experiencing poor mental health, there's more to it than just a bunch of symptoms.
"My main message is there's nothing inherently wrong with them, there's probably a little bit more wrong with the things around them that aren't truly supporting them," she said.
That includes things like the culture they're mothering in, their sleep, their relationship with their broader family and what they're eating - the broader picture of their lives.
"There are hormonal changes going on physiologically there that can contribute to someone's well-being and mental health but then we also have to look more holistically at these psychosocial factors," Ms Matthews said.
Ms Matthews can be reached via her Instagram page Bloom Holistic Counselling.
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