This week, ‘Part IV - Recovering your life’, includes three chapters, from Dr Oscar Serrallach’s ‘The Postnatal Depletion Cure’. In this fourth and final part, the author brings up the subjects of postnatal emotional wellbeing, self-love and relationships.
In Chapter 11: ‘Recovering and Rebuilding Emotional Well-Being’, Dr Serrallach mentions how intense life with a newborn can be, it can indeed be a rollercoaster! However by using a ‘three-pronged approach’ (p.222) he explains why you should look into how you’re feeling on a physical level as well as an emotional level, we all know how intrinsically linked our bodies and minds are!
The ‘three-pronged approach' includes:
Acknowledge the emotional journey you’re on.
Reduce negative feelings.
In the subchapter entitled ‘Confronting the emotional journey of motherhood’ (p.222) Dr Serrallach mentions that women go through physical changes to their brains when they’re pregnant, they experience changes in the relationship with their partner, they are impacted by sleep deprivation, their hormones shift, they can be physically depleted and also feel lonely.
If you’re reading this and you’re feeling overwhelmed, please seek support. There are incredible people out there working for wonderful charities who are always on the other end of the phone: Pandas, Tommy’s, Mind to name a few.
There is definitely a balance to be found between the expectation and the reality of motherhood, something the author goes into in this chapter too.
“Many Mums, as I’m sure you know, try to put on a brave face lest they feel ashamed that they don’t have the ‘perfect’ baby and postnatal life they dreamed of, and they are desperately relieved when they can open up to a sympathetic ear.” (p.223)
In the subchapter entitled ‘Finding the flow state that leads to happiness’ (p.231) Dr Serrallach details the difference between ‘being happy’ and ‘doing happy’. ‘Doing’ is an active process, there is an implication that if only you try harder you can have (or buy) more happiness. Being happy, on the other hand, is purely an experience in the now.’ (p.231)
In Chapter 12: ‘Recovering your self-love’ (p.236), you will find information on the ‘Four Pillars of Health: sleep, purpose, activity and nutrition’. Dr Serrallach mentions that ‘New moms are the champions of self-neglect’ but that ‘self-love is not just something you deserve - it’s what you need!’ (p.237)
Chapter 13: ‘Recovering your relationship with your partner and with your libido.' (p.243)
This chapter delves into how this huge transition in a couple’s life can impact the relationship they had prior to parenthood. Dr Serrallach explores and explains the things to think about and how to communicate more effectively together. I’ve picked a few things to quote but this whole chapter really is a great read for all couples in the early stages of parenthood!
“Expecting your partner to know what you need without your having to figure it out for yourself falls into the realm of magical thinking.” (p.245)
“Good communication is at the heart of all thriving relationships, and it involves the capacity to give another person an accurate picture of how you feel. When we don’t communicate, we act out in toxic ways - through avoidance, excuse making, withdrawal, depression and/or anger.” (p.246)
If you’re reading this and your the birth partner, or Dad, think about how you can ask to help in the best possible way, remembering that often a women who has recently given birth doesn’t always know exactly what she needs, she’s also working out this whole new parenthood thing for herself, at the same time as you are but often on considerably less sleep!
Dr Serrallach talks about saying things like:
Tell me more…
Help me understand that better…
What else would you like me to do?
Women become mothers and men become fathers but they both equally become a parent and this represents an equally huge transition in both people’s lives. This transition to parenthood is as important for the mother as it is for the father.
At the end of this chapter, the author discusses your postnatal libido and why it may be different to your pre baby libido. Recuperating physically, a hormone shift and breastfeeding are some of the key reasons.
To conclude, Dr Serrallach coined the term ‘Mothermorphosis’ to describe what a woman goes through to becoming a mother. Look it up, look him up, you’ll be glad you did.
Thank you for reading!