About six years ago, I moved to Montreal for lack of a better idea. I’d been living out of a tent and backpack for years. I was recently single and looking for an adventure. So I moved to Montreal, subletting my friend Paola’s place while she went off to explore her homeland of Mexico. I was keen to find a waitressing job, make some money and head off to India.
On the second night in Montreal, Paola introduced me to the guy I affectionately call “my husband. And most of the rest of the story you know, if you’ve been reading this since I first found out I was pregnant.
So I never made it to India, and somehow ended up teaching yoga anyways. These days, I’m also learning a bit about Ayurveda, Yoga’s 5,000 year old sister science. It’s not within the scope of this newsletter, but what I actually wanted to talk about is very much related– how the postpartum period is handled in some parts of India.
It’s so incredibly different than what we do here in North America. In India, the new mother is mothered for the first month after she gives birth. She is nurtured. She is tended to and nourished.
She is not expected to:
- clean her house
- stay on top of laundry
- act as a hostess for random family and friends
- go back to work
- go out on date nights with her husband
It’s no wonder why so many of us in North America, myself included, wind up with a Postpartum Depression diagnosis. We. Push. Too. Hard. There are too many expectations of us as new moms. Stuff imposed by family, friends, society, and ourselves.
What should we be doing in the first six weeks postpartum? Lying in bed or sitting on the couch, feeding baby. Eating better than we have in our lives because nursing takes a lot of energy and we are recuperating from a living being coming out of our body! We should be receiving food, water, love and massages!
Another striking difference of how the first few weeks and months goes in India and many other places around the world, is the sense of community they have that is certainly rare here. I don’t know about you, but my mom didn’t move in after the birth of my kids. When my son was born, I was living in Montreal and she was living in BC! I felt very alone. Most of us don’t have the village we are supposed to have. We don’t parent in communities like we used to. We are detached. Disconnected.
We were smart enough to hire a postpartum doula in the weeks after our son’s birth. Millie helped with dishes, laundry and took my oldest out to the park so I could rest. She brought us food and upon my request, a pint of Guinness! She listened to me cry.
My experience with Millie was invaluable and I have found myself wanting to do similar work. So here It is. Along with the therapeutic yoga I am already doing with new and expectant moms, I’m offering my services as a Postpartum Doula. I also just finished a training in Indian Massage for infants and kids (Shantala) and I’m eager to share this knowledge with parents who want a beautiful way to connect with their babies either in private or in a group setting.
Being there for clients in this important time may not be the exact same as it would’ve if I was family– but I hope it can be pretty close. I hope it can help others the way it helped me.