Rest for your children and your children's children. Rest to untangle all the weavers, all the knots and braids of self-doubt. Rest to rewire your brain, to find safety in stillness. Rest to remind yourself of the ocean, a deep valley. Rest to remind yourself of the womb. Rest for safety. Rest, because no-one else can do it for you. Rest for new beginnings. Rest in the exhale of each and every ending. Rest because it makes you stronger. Rest because it's hard to do.
via The Daily Rest
I have been a long follower of Dr. Oscar Serrallach’s work around Postnatal Depletion. At a recent event held at The Memo, I was privileged to be in attendance to be able to hear his passion around the health of mothers. If there was ever a hype boy for postpartum health, it is Dr. Serrallach. After seeing a wave of mothers come through his clinic with similar symptoms, he coined the term Postnatal Depletion to convey the all-encompassing physical, emotional, and mental strain many mothers were experiencing. These mothers did not fit the depression diagnosis but there were too many commonalities to just ignore them. He did not just attribute what these women were experiencing as just “normal” and “as part of motherhood”, he researched the why, and he wrote an article for Goop which blew up, he published his book which has been appreciated by readers from around the world and now he has partnered up with Frida Algars to create a supplement dedicated to address the symptoms he was seeing mothers experience.
Firstly, what is the difference between postpartum depression and postpartum depletion?
|Postpartum Depression||Postpartum Depletion|
|Definition||A clinical diagnosis and mothers cannot find joy or see the light||Mothers can still find joy in between tough moments|
Note* if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the Postpartum Depression column, please seek help by calling PANDA (1300726306), Beyond Blue (1300224636) or speak to a health practitioner who can help you with a mental health plan.
This talk drew me to think back about why I had wanted to start Elan – to draw on traditional Chinese confinement practices and introduce them to the modern woman in a Western society. After having the support (physically, emotionally, and nutritionally) after having my first baby, I wondered how does one survive without it? I know I speak from a place of privilege and across my four postpartum journey’s I had a combination of familial and paid help. It was a conscious effort to design and budget for the postpartum period that I wanted and learning from each one to see how else can I get more support and what else can I release to feel comfortable to receive this support.
Studies have shown that women who observed Chinese confinement generally had lower rates of depression, however from personal experience just observing it and following all the traditional “rules” might not actually be what serves you well. The practice forms a framework but ought to be tailored to the individual.
I truly believe those initial days filled with support, nourishment and rest can set up a mother for what is to come. The transition is sacred and special and ought to be honoured so that the mother can emerge in full bloom. But those early days require surrendering and a turning inwards physically, emotionally, and mentally in order for the blossoming to then happen.
Dr. Serrallach used an analogy to compare help and support. Help is when someone is struggling out at sea calling out to be saved. Support are things that were already there at the beach – the swim flags, the lifeguards, the rescue speed boats. Studies have shown than only 11% of us plan for out postpartum which means most of us are winging this major transitional period and not putting support systems in place. So, when we are calling for help, there is nothing there to rescue us.
Surprisingly it is my father-in-law who really does recognise the plight mothers feel. He recognises deep down that it is my health and care for me that is what supports his grandchildren. He will drop things and change plans to support me and like my own father, they always sign of a call or a WhatsApp message with “don’t get too tired”. Yes, it is normal to feel tired but not to the point where a few nights sleep can’t restore, and it is important to recognise that we need to start caring for ourselves before we get “too tired”.
One of the attendees asked, “well what can we do to help mothers?” Often when experiencing the feelings of tiredness overwhelm may seem so big and hard to tackle, it is easy to throw our hands up an resign ourselves to the idea that nothing can be done. And consistent with my studies with Dr. Sophie Brock around Motherhood, the depletion mothers today feel is multifaceted, is complex deep and multi layered. It is social, culturally, and politically significant, but what can we do at the individual level to help ourselves?
5 minutes duration:
- Square breathing
- Sitting in the sun (morning sun is great to help with circadian rhythm)
- A warm drink and deep breaths
20 minutes duration:
- Yoga Nidra (great to help with sleep and Insight Timer has a great postpartum one)
- Light stretches
- Call a loved one
- Face mask
- A yoga, exercise or pilates class
- A breakfast or coffee catch up with a loved one
- A day or night out with friends or partner to foster connection
- A Facial
- A massage
- Learn something new
- Half day retreat
- A weekend away
- A retreat
This list is by no means exhaustive and are just suggestions that may prompt you to find something that is suitable for your circumstance. But what this list aims to show is how you can slowly develop to carve out time for yourself to fill yourself up, and sometimes they may be small things. But through this list, we aim to move towards the bigger things that can fuel more rest and creativity.
Whatever it is you choose as your fuel of choice, there are things that we need to be able to do in order to be able to enjoy them. Some of these things require setting boundaries, asking for help and being open to receive help. They may sound simple but are actually quite hard for a lot of us who are used to being productive, constantly on the go and dislike inconveniencing others.
Many modern day mothers suffer from depletion due to the lack of support. We need the village so that mothers and families can thrive. However, on the flipside of the coin, mothers in today’s Western society are often not open to receiving help and support. Many of us feel the urge to appear as the super woman, the martyr who sacrifices herself for her children, but what does this show the next generation? That to be a “good mother”, we have to exhaust ourselves, not carve out time for ourselves and not care for ourselves? What do our actions and views towards self-care model for our children?
Recently Sophie Ward Koren shared on her Instagram a beautiful mug that was just hers and no one else could drink from it. It was such a beautiful symbol of the fact that a mother’s cup should be filled, that I went out and got myself a mug to fill daily with a nourishing warm drink whether it be Cacao or Red Dates Tea.
What will you do when you have 5 minutes, 20 minutes free? Or what can you do to give yourself 5 minutes, 20 minutes to recenter and calm your nervous system?
And how can you organise yourself to make room for the bigger things?
Here are some suggestions where we can help support you:
Be sure to check out Elan’s Nourishment range which has been designed for the convenience of new mothers whilst nourishing them from the inside out. With options ranging from Traditional Chinese Medicine, to Ayurvedic Kitchari to Nepalese Rice Pudding, there is sure to be something to suit your taste buds. We blend everything in small batches by hand here in Melbourne and there are no preservative or additives and is nothing I wouldn’t feed my own children.
Flow State Vitamin Supplement by The Tenth
Disclaimer: I was gifted a jar of these supplements when I was attending the talk by Dr. Serrallach at The Memo but prior to this I had purchased three bottles myself and had started on them after I finished my traditional Chinese confinement period and within a few days I felt energised which was unexpected given I wasn’t sleeping much at all. I met Frida, the brain child of the brand before there was even a physical product to try and was sold on her vision of creating an accessible product to help depleted mothers. As Dr. Serrallach mentioned, it is the best product on the market that can address depletion without having a doctor’s prescription. The levels in this supplement are high enough to actually make a difference and not just there in traces to tick the box. For the Elan Community, you can enjoy a discount by using the following code ElanEmpower
When I first read Dr. Serrallach’s book The Postnatal Depletion Cure, I went out to get my bloods done but it was such an effort even to get a GP to order the script let alone be able to translate the results. Many doctors are working off a suitable range that shows that you are not ill. But life as a Mama, I really don’t think “not ill” cuts it. We need to be strong and thriving, not merely surviving. So the range for optimum health really is much smaller. Eva from Fertile Foodie is a big advocate for women’s health, so if you are keen to have your bloods looked at, you can book in a Functional Blood Analysis, and take advantage of the offers the elan community has:
Click on the link here to get in touch with Eva for a free no obligation chat.
10% OFF your first 60 minute Nutrition Therapy Consultation here by entering discount code FRIENDSOFELAN
10% OFF your Functional Blood Analysis here by entering discount code FRIENDSOFELAN
This Postpartum Planning Workbook was created after having my first baby and includes over 100 pages of inspiration, prompts and calendars. There is a specific area on boundaries which can assist with actioning some of the self care above.This workbook aims to support and empower during the sacred time of postpartum, and to help you anticipate the changes you will face. The Postpartum Workbook is framed by our five wellness pillars of ritual and celebrate, rest and retreat, nourish and restore, support and empower and enlighten. These wellness pillars aim to guide you in creating your ideal postpartum experience. This book is made accessible in a hard copy or eBook form.
When I had my third baby in the height of lockdown I wrote a list of little things to fill my cup. There was no time or opportunity for anything big or drastic so there were things like fresh flowers, a warm cuppa or a foot massage. The First Forty Days of Self Care Package was curated with this in mind, doses of self care and connection for a new mama in the first forty days. The package comprises of 40 pouches to be opened each day for your first forty days postpartum. The pouches are filled with face & body products, nourishing dry mixes, mindfulness support items, and self care accessories. We all need a reminder to take care of mama as well, even though you may be at the moment only thinking about the baby. The concept of "first forty days" draws back to my cultural heritage of Chinese Postpartum Confinement practices, and I really believe these 40 items will help implement some self care in one way or another in your postpartum practices.
This self-care package includes:
- Mini versions of our Birth Affirmation and Motherhood Inspirational Cards and Journal Prompt and Daily Affirmation Cards
- TCM herbs in courtesy of The Herborium, featuring some of our best sellers.
- Selections from our Dry Pantry Range
- Warm teas and drinks
- Some self-care accessories
- And a voucher to take off $20* from your next purchase with us.
I hope you can carve out some time and space for some self-care today.