Today we dive into part 2 of how to make postpartum a sacred experience.
In this episode, we’re talking about:
How to balance science and spirituality in postpartum
The key principles of postpartum conscious care
3 practical ways to weave the sacred into the everyday experiences of postpartum healing.
- This conversation will inspire both mothers, at any stage in their postpartum journey, and the professionals who serve them to use a holistic and sacred approach to experiencing comprehensive well-being throughout their lives.
Read the transcript of this episode:
Depression, anxiety, and autoimmune symptoms after birth is not how it’s supposed to be. There is a much better way, and I’m here to show you how to do just that. Hey, my friend, I’m Maranda Bower, a mother to four kids and a biology student turned scientist obsessed with changing the world through postpartum care. Join us as we talk to mothers and the providers who serve them and getting evidence-based information that actually supports the mind, body, and soul in the years after birth.
Making Postpartum Sacred Part 2
In our previous episode, we embarked on a profound journey into the heart of postpartum, and this journey is to make it sacred once more. So we explore the history, the culture, and the deep-rooted traditions that once enveloped postpartum in a tapestry of reverence and support, and we also witnessed the shift from this holistic, interconnected view of postpartum to one that’s predominantly focused on science, and how that shift has overshadowed the spiritual and emotional aspects of the transformative period that is postpartum.
But our journey does not end there. In fact, it’s just beginning, and today, in episode two, we’re diving deeper into the essence of postpartum sacredness. So we’re going to explore the delicate balance between science and spirituality and postpartum care, how this balance can dramatically improve outcomes for new mothers and their families and really unveil practical ways that modern mothers and families can incorporate sacred elements into their postpartum experience, weaving together old traditions and contemporary wisdom into what is happening now in our modern world.
So before we dive in, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to go, leave a review on iTunes and share your thoughts. Your support means the world to us and it helps us continue this important conversation.
So now let’s journey deeper into the heart of postpartum sacredness. Welcome. I’m Maranda Bower, your host of Postpartum University podcast. And in this modern world, we often find ourselves walking this tightrope between two seemingly contrasting realms the sacred and the science, the science and the spirituality. And when it comes to postpartum care, this balance is crucial, as both elements play an integral role in nurturing the mother and her family. So science has undeniably revolutionized healthcare. It’s provided us with this vital knowledge, the tools that have really improved maternal and infant outcomes. We cannot not acknowledge that and medical advancements, evidence-based practices, rigorous research really have saved countless lives and improved the overall health of mothers and babies. However, as we’ve previously discussed, there’s an over reliance of science alone, and sometimes that can lead us to overlook the emotional, spiritual and deeply human aspects of the postpartum journey, and it’s a journey marked not only by physical recovery but also this profound emotional and spiritual transformation.
The spiritual dimension of postpartum is about recognizing the sacredness of this period, a time when a woman undergoes a remarkable transformation both in her body and in her identity. It’s a time of vulnerability, growth, and rediscovery. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the deeper meaning of life and the interconnectedness of all things. So how do we strike this balance between these two essential facets of postpartum care? Well, it begins with the acknowledgment that they are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they complement and enrich each other. This is what I call conscious care. Conscious care is a whole-body approach to postpartum that recognizes science and spirituality are not opposing forces, but two sides of the same coin. It’s about embracing a complete, integrated view of postpartum, one that honors the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions.
Key Principles of Postpartum Conscious Care
- There is integral medical expertise. We have this medical aspect of postpartum care that can be indispensable, and it involves evidence-based practices. And I want to, I really want, to stress the significance of this because, as I shared in the previous episode, we as a country, the United States are not practicing a lot of evidence-based medicine in the least bit, and I’m going to dive deeper into this conversation in a little bit. But when we start bringing in a lot of this sacred and understanding the significance of the postpartum period and this emotional and spiritual light, a lot of these evidence-based practices are going to fall away or they’re going to change dramatically so that we benefit the mother and baby and family rather than impose restrictions and illogical care that is only focused on either her health and well-being on the physical level or the provider’s health and well-being and pocketbook. So this is super important. We need medical expertise, but we are also going to dive in a little bit later about how this practice is part of a broader spectrum of care and it will shift significantly if we honor the sacred of postpartum.
- The other component of conscious care is this embrace of emotional healing and its emotional vulnerability. It’s a period of growth. It’s an essential part of being a provider or being in service to someone who is postpartum. We have to offer a safe space so that someone can express their feelings and their fears and their joys. Emotional support, whether it’s through counseling or support groups or simply attentive listening. It’s a vital component of postpartum care and I don’t mean that we need to just say, oh, there’s this emotional aspect of your healing and so I’m going to acknowledge that by sending you off to a counselor. That’s not it. Yes, counseling might be a thing and it might be very helpful, but you have to also provide that safe space for the expression of feelings and fears. It can’t just happen in another place, outside of your practice or outside of whatever space that you as a mother are receiving care. That needs to happen simultaneously. And with that is this acknowledgment of the spiritual journey, the dimension of postpartum. That isn’t necessarily religious in any way. It’s about recognizing the sacredness of life, the interconnectedness of all beings, and the potential for this profound growth and transformation.
- But then there’s this community support. Just as in ancient times communities played a pivotal role in supporting new mothers, this sense of belonging and interconnectedness remains essential in modern postpartum care. I know in my own journeys in postpartum just about every motherhood, every mother that I speak to, says that motherhood is such a lonely experience, it is so isolating, and that’s because we’ve gotten so far away from this community support system. So really encouraging mothers to seek out supportive communities, whether it’s online or in person hopefully in person, because that provides a sense of shared experience and belonging. And of course, of course, we cannot forget about rituals and ceremonies. Rituals and ceremonies have been an intrinsic part of the postpartum across cultures. They offer a way to mark and celebrate the transition into motherhood, and I’m going to share a little bit more about this here shortly. I just really want to summarize the significance of conscious care and what it really includes.
- There is also this mind-body connection that is intricately connected to practices like yoga or Tai Chi or even just simple relaxation techniques that can really help mothers foster this deeper connection between their physical and spiritual selves, to understand that those two are deeply connected to one another.
So balancing the science and spirituality in postpartum care is not about replacing one with the other. It’s really about recognizing each of them has its place and its purpose and viewing postpartum as this holistic journey that encompasses all aspects that we can get through conscious care, whether this conscious care is something that we give to ourselves, or it’s something that we give to someone else, or it’s something that we receive from ourselves and from the community at large and from our providers.
Now I want to dive deeper into why this harmonious blend of science and spirituality is not just this philosophical idea, but a practical necessity for the well-being of mothers and families.
So I want to uncover a couple of tangible ways in which we can really balance this postpartum health outcome and improve this and empower mothers to embark on this transformative journey.
So when we do this, we enhance physical recovery. Okay, so that physical wellbeing of a mother it’s top priority. We get that and we have these evidence-based medical practices. We have regular checkups, we focus on nutrition. All of those are really crucial components, but by combining these with the emotional support and the stress management techniques, our body can really heal more effectively. We tune in, we listen into our body and we practice those self-care techniques that are so necessary for our healing, and so by doing so, we are reducing stress levels, we are focusing in on certain aspects of our healing that might need more attention than others, and we are recognizing that sacred connection between our bodies and our emotions, which are so important in a female body in particular. We store this is science y’all we store our emotions as women within our pelvic region, and so oftentimes this is why you see pelvic floor physical therapy be a very, sometimes emotionally challenging experience. If you’ve ever been to a really amazing pelvic floor physical therapist, we get to uncover a lot of those old traumas and wounds that begin to resurface when we’re working on our pelvic region, because those are such an interconnected experience. This postpartum connection between physical and emotional and sacred is all such a beautiful blend and this is that opportunity to heal so, so deeply. So there’s also this overall improved emotional wellbeing, and we know emotions play a significant role in postpartum. There’s hormonal shifts, sleepless nights, the demand of caring for a newborn. It leads to a roller coaster of feelings, our relationships and past traumas emerging, because that’s very common in postpartum. And there’s a holistic approach that encourages open dialogue about these emotions and it provides mothers the safe space to really express them and also prevent a lot of the unnecessary from emerging. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen this over reliance of science really negatively impact a mother’s emotional well-being and encourage traumatic events to occur within. And so, by eliminating those things and recognizing the sacred, what we have is this improved emotional well-being, not just the mundane every day caring for a newborn is hard but also eliminating the aloneness of those feelings, also eliminating the birth trauma that so many women experience because of the lack of understanding of our sacredness and this sacredness within the medical community. So really, this there it becomes this improved emotional wellbeing overall. So physically, emotionally, just overall well-being.
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2. We also increase and strengthen the bond and attachment between mother and baby. So this holistic, conscious care approach recognizes the importance of nourishing the mother and nurturing the mother bond and child bond during the postpartum. So these practices again these practices, these rituals, these ceremonies of skin to skin and responsive parenting and breastfeeding, all of those are rituals, they’re ceremonious rituals, they are what really support the bond and attachment and so when mothers feel emotionally supported and connected to their infants, that has a positive impact on the child’s development and wellbeing. There’s also spiritual growth and empowerment and a reduced risk of postpartum complications and a maternal confidence and stronger bonds and networks.
3. And really here’s a point that I really wanna stress a sustainable approach to healthcare and postpartum. It emphasizes self-care, mindfulness and emotional wellbeing, which are practices that moms can continue long after the postpartum period, postpartum period being years right.
So this means that the benefit of holistic, conscious care can extend well beyond this immediate postpartum phase and really impact a woman’s life and her family forever. This conscious care approach to postpartum is not about adding spiritual or emotional elements to the medical model. I really want to be clear about this. This is about recognizing that a mother’s well-being encompasses her physical, emotional, and spiritual self.
As a matter of fact, if we addressed the spiritual and emotional aspects of pregnancy, birth and postpartum, a significant amount of outdated medical practices, perinatal trauma, poor practices that focus on provider over mother all of that will fall away. They will become non-existent because we would recognize that they are more harmful than helpful. So by addressing all of these, losses and outcomes in postpartum care can be dramatically improved. Others who undergo holistic, conscious postpartum care they will heal faster, they will experience fewer complications and they will have more positive transition and transformation in motherhood.
Okay, so now we know why this is so important.
What are some real-life strategies that bridge this gap between science and spirituality, creating a truly transformative and empowering postpartum journey?
In a world that often seems dominated by this rapid pace of technology and the demands of daily life, it might appear challenging to weave these sacred elements into the postpartum journey. However, this is precisely where the transformative power of intentionality comes into play. So embracing the sacred in the postpartum experience isn’t about adopting this entirely new way of life, but infusing that ordinary with extraordinary meaning. It’s recognizing that within the everyday moments lies the potential for this profound connection and healing.
So how can we, as modern mothers and families, undertake this transformative journey and make postpartum sacred in a practical and meaningful way?
- One of these ways, which I love, is creating rituals. Rituals need not be like this grand or elaborate experience. They can be simple. They can be lighting a candle during a moment of reflection, or expressing gratitude, or practicing mindful breathing. Rituals provide a sense of continuity and connection and times of change, just the very fact of doing skin to skin or breastfeeding or bathing ourselves. All of these are such beautiful rituals, and there are so many rituals and ceremonies throughout the postpartum experience, especially in a cultural context. We have closing of the bones ceremony, we have wraps and ceremonies. We have blessing ways I’ll share some, the Navajo, believe in something called the blessing way. It’s a tradition that is very ceremonious and it’s held during pregnancy, but extends in the postpartum period as well. It involves prayers and blessings from the female, family members and communities, and they envelop the mother in well-being. We also have the Balinese, and Bali the postpartum period is referred to as Panteng. During this time, new mothers are isolated from the community. They follow very strict rituals, including a special diet. The belief is that these practices protect a mother and baby from harmful influences and promote her healing. In Africa, they have a baby welcoming. In numerous African cultures, there’s rituals and ceremonies that welcome this newborn and celebrate a mother’s journey, and they often involve dancing and singing and community gatherings to offer the support and blessing. In Japan, there’s traditions that are like the first shrine visit. It’s such a beautiful experience. It’s a ceremony and it’s held at a shrine to introduce the baby and the newborn to the community, and it seeks blessings for the child’s future. The practice is believed to connect the baby to the sacred and the community from a very, very young age. All of these are ceremonies and rituals that really include the community aspect, which is so incredible and very important If you can have that in your own life. I will highly recommend that you incorporate that. Find someone who can do that. There are some amazing traditional doulas who do that kind of work as well, who can do a lot of these ceremonies for you and the people that you love, but also recognizing that it doesn’t necessarily need to come from a community. You can do these things as well. There are rituals and ceremonies that are very individual too. Get in touch with those. I highly recommend getting in touch with your own culture, getting in touch with your own culture and seeing what kind of practices that they have, and really getting in touch with what it is that you need and how can you create ritual and connection around those pieces. And it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t have to be big, it can be in those everyday moments that already exist within your life. Some ways that I love to incorporate culture and tradition and ritual are in my foods and nourishing myself. Food has always held this sacred place in so many cultures and it symbolizes nourishment and connection and love, and we can honor this tradition by preparing and sharing nourishing meals, not just for our community and as a community, but also for ourselves. There’s also this nature connection, spending time in nature, even for a short walk that is a sacred experience, and we can just simply recognize it for what it truly is and what it does to our bodies. It’s so grounding and there’s so much reflection to be had. And then, of course, practicing mindfulness and presence right, allowing ourselves to be present in each moment and embrace the challenges and the joys of postpartum, recognizing that there’s this ebb and this flow, and that each moment is a moment that will not last forever. It will shift and it will change and we can grow in that.
- Another opportunity for sacredness is creating a sacred space, a sacred space within the home, a corner where you can meditate or pray, or reflect or simply be, and it’s something that serves as a tangible reminder. Oftentimes we have so heavily relied on the physical and I’m this person too I get a lot of connection to the physical realm, so being outdoors is really important to me, but also having a physical space that I can connect into to support my sacredness is very, very important, and this is one of the reasons why people fall in love with things like stones, or they fall in love with things like nature and leaves and touching the grass. It’s that physical aspect of things. So absolutely include that in your life where you can see guidance when necessary as well. You know guidance from spiritual leaders, mentors, healers, counselors, therapists whomever it is that can offer wisdom and practices and infuse that sacredness within your journey.
- And the other component that I love and I find so relevant to so many moms that I serve is this time of reflection and journaling, even if it’s for five minutes a day, taking time for personal reflection, journaling or even creative expression oh, my word, creative expression. We are such powerful expressive creative beings as females. Literally, we create life. We create life and oftentimes, when we are so enchanted and connected into baby and caring for our baby and the challenges that come with that, we forget that we create Well beyond just human life. And getting back in touch with that sacred act of creative expression whether it’s prostituting or sewing or reading or writing or photography, whatever that is for you giving yourself that time to enjoy that.
There are so many practical approaches to incorporating sacred elements into this modern postpartum and it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all all solution. Every mother, every family has their unique path to embracing the sacred, that journey itself, to learning about the sacred and fusing that into your life is a sacred path in and of itself. So weaving that journey into your life in a way that resonates with your values and your beliefs. And in the end, it’s the intention, the mindful choice to infuse the postpartum experience with meaning and reverence that holds the power to transform this period into a truly sacred healing time.
And if you’re a provider listening in, know that you play a vital role in supporting and encouraging that sacredness in your clients. Educate conscious care with individual care plans, nutritional guidance, encouraging community, focusing on the whole body and really advocating for her needs and her desires. But there’s also this one really important piece too, that often gets overlooked when I recently saw a post from a mama who was desperately looking to hire support and she felt she was coming up short because the people who were offering support were those who didn’t practice what they preached. Now I fully recognize that this is likely a projection. It may or may not be set in truth, but we must acknowledge it.
We must also acknowledge the lesson behind here.
Are we practicing what we are preaching? Are we advocating for our own needs?
Do we recognize the sacredness in our own life, in our exploration of making postpartum sacred?
We’ve journeyed through time, unraveling the threads of tradition and wisdom and this once-woven fabric of postpartum that still exists today, and we’ve delved into the history, the postpartum practices, the sacred rituals, ancient cultures, the modern era of science-driven care.
But the journey isn’t just about looking back. It’s also about looking forward. It’s about recognizing that the sacredness of postpartum never truly disappeared. It merely faded into the background. It’s really waiting for us to rediscover it.
So, as we conclude this two-part series, I invite you to consider the significance of making postpartum sacred in your own life, in your own family, and in your own community. This isn’t an abstract concept. It’s a tangible, transformative approach to postpartum care. The power to infuse the sacred into postpartum rests in each one of us.
It’s a call to action, a reminder that we have the agency to shape the postpartum experience. It’s an invitation to honor the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of this profound journey. Every element contributes to the holistic well-being of a mother and a family.
So embracing this sacred means acknowledging the extraordinary within the ordinary moments. It’s about nurturing the soul as well as the body, finding meaning in this medan and creating space for emotional healing and growth. So what can you do to make postpartum sacred? Everything that I shared with you. Create community, educate yourself, bring ritual and ceremony, seek, support, practice self-care, advocate for holistic care, share your story, support cultural diversity and be gentle with yourself. Remember that embracing the sacred is not about perfection by far not perfection. That is not a word on this list. It’s about intention. It’s all about intention. So, being gentle with yourself as you navigate the challenges of joy and joy and challenges of postpartum, and your journey is unique. Every step you take toward honoring the sacred is meaningful. So take these steps. It contributes to the revival of the sacred in postpartum, a revival that has the potential to transform outcomes for mothers and families. It’s a collective endeavor, a reawakening of the interconnected approach to motherhood, and a celebration of beauty and significance of this transformative journey. So, as we close this chapter, we invite you to carry the torch of the sacredness that is postpartum, share your light with others. Let us all be stewards of this profound wisdom, knowing that in the sacred we find healing, growth, and a deeper connection to ourselves and our families and our communities.
Thank you for joining us on this journey of rediscovery. A reclamation, and remember this sacred is waiting to be embraced. Together, we can unlock its potential to create a nurturing and transformative postpartum experience. I hope this has been inspiring for you. I hope this series has really connected you into that missing piece and I really invite you to share this with others.
I am so grateful you turned into the Postpartum University podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode enough to leave us a quick review and, more importantly, I hope more than ever that you take what you’ve learned here, apply it to your own life, and consider joining us in the Postpartum University membership. It’s a private space where mothers and providers learn the real truth and the real tools needed to heal in the years to come and the real tools needed to heal in the years Postpartum. You can learn more at www.postpartumu. That’s the letter U.com. We’ll see you next week.
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