On The Way Toward Parenthood

Parenthood

Understanding the Foundations of Parenthood

Our parenting experience starts long before the birth of our first baby. How we were parented and what happens to us along the way informs the parents we become. Any form of trauma is worth revisiting when contemplating parenthood. Traumatic events in childhood and adulthood can complicate how we feel about many things associated with becoming a parent and many are buried deep, often to enable us to continue to function.

Embracing Fluid Parenting Styles

Yet our parenting style it is not set in stone. The parents we become remain fluid if combined with insight and intention to be the parent you want to be. Each decision and choice we make can be reversed and redirected with reflection and courage.

The Challenge of Being the Parent You Needed

It is not easy to be the parent you needed but did not have. It will stretch you into your own grief, your sadness and sense of loss whilst asking you to be the adult in the room, stronger, kinder, and wise. I can’t think of another life experience that requires this fundamental shift in selfhood.

Recognising Unconscious Patterns in Parenting

I say courage because it truly does take a tangible, felt experience of gut-wrenching clarity that you just did or said something to your child that you thought you would never repeat or hear come out of your mouth. We often don’t want to repeat the errors of our own parents, but it does not have to mean a complete swing away from the model they presented us with. Rather than a knee jerk alternative we would do well to sit with that duality and take control in thoughtful decision making by making different choices that may have been harmful or hurtful in the past.

Impact of Family Narratives on Parenthood

How we were raised may also impact our very desire to be a parent. Family stories can shroud any feeling of delight or reward that might be possible if you were treated poorly, devalued, disrespected, or disregarded. Similarly, the choice to not parent can become fraught if the family narrative only holds parenthood as the established value of worth. Reproductive adversity on the way to parenthood can truly mark us. Much of what can happen can be traumatic. How do you then flip that and suddenly be happy about pending parenthood when the cost has been so great.

Coping with Reproductive Adversity

There is no shortage of material when talking about this legacy in counselling. Many do not realise the mark life has left on them when thinking about raising children. Meeting your newborn baby carries you into your own newborn state of parenthood. Just like your newborn you will need to feel your way with your senses and what your sensible, adult brain thinks should happen often does not transpire. What you want your baby to do does not match with how they are and the adjustments you do or do not make are likely to either make or break you.

Counselling: Navigating Parenthood’s Challenges

How you learn to care for your children will be informed by how you were cared for by your parents. Even the things you cannot directly remember are often held within us to be revealed in time. Big and strong emotions often accompany parenthood in ways that confound us. It is so common to have a client say to me I am so different to how I thought I would be, and I don’t understand where this is coming from. Then the work begins. In counselling, we thread our way through the many experiences life has provided in order to make sense of our responses and take charge of what we want to do differently.

Empowering Positive Changes in Parenthood

It can feel very scary and make us very vulnerable, but it is possible to make great changes. We don’t have to continue to harm and hurt our children just because that is what was done to us. It is possible to hold a profound intention to do it differently just with an intention to do so. Allow the intention to take you into action and demonstrate to yourself and your family what is in your heart. Learning to understand the legacy of your life experiences and how it might impact your behaviour is to be applauded. What better investment is there in caring for those that are considering, trying to, or encountering themselves as parents.

Written by Suzanne Hurley, Perinatal & Fertility Counsellor at Fertile Ground Health Group

Make a booking with Suzanne

Postnatal Depletion Recovery

Postnatal Depletion

Georgia Marrion, Senior Fertility Naturopath and Nutritionist at Fertile Ground Health Group, joined Andrew Whitfiled-Cook from Natural Medicine Partners on their podcast – Wellness by Design, to discuss postnatal depletion recovery.

We know that pregnancy can take a toll on a woman’s body and involves prioritisation of nutrition to the fetus (foetus) at the expense of the mother.  We also know that this can result in significant depletion of nutrients, and furthermore can even result in  structural changes to the mother’s brain tissue.

It’s no wonder, then, that there’s a thing called pregnancy brain, and that women suffer from extreme fatigue, sometimes months, or even years after giving birth.

Stress hormones play havoc with maternal hormonal balance and immunity. When does this depletion become pathological? When does postpartum fatigue become a problem? And what other issues face women after giving birth?

Today we are joined by Senior Fertility Naturopath and Nutritionist, Georgia Marrion. Georgia is an expert in supporting women both during their pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

Join us as we delve into the aetiology and supportive measures we can offer women who suffer from prolonged fatigue, stress and ensuing mental health issues which impede optimal family functioning.

Listen on your preferred medium, see links below:

Apple Podcast

Buzzsprout

Book your free 10-minute introduction telehealth consult with Senior Fertility Naturopath & Nutritionist, Georgia Marrion to get started. Navigate to Naturopathy – Fertile Ground > 10-minute Free Naturopathic Introduction TELEHEALTH

References

Huntley R. What is postnatal depletion and do I have it? ABC Everyday. Posted 6 Mar 20196 Mar 2019, updated 19 Oct 2020. (Accessed 3023 Apr 3).

Hoekzema E, Barba-Müller E, Pozzobon C, et al. Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Feb;20(2):287-296. DOI:

10.1038/nn.4458

Barba-Müller E, Craddock S, Carmona S, et al. Brain plasticity in pregnancy and the postpartum period: links to maternal caregiving and mental health. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2019 Apr;22(2):289-299. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-018-0889-z

Chenko N, Dukart J, Tchaikovski S, et al. The expectant brain-pregnancy leads to changes in brain morphology in the early postpartum period. Cereb Cortex. 2022 Sep 4;32(18):4025-4038. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhab463

Kim P, Leckman JF, Mayes LC, et al. The plasticity of human maternal brain: longitudinal changes in brain anatomy during the early postpartum period. Behav Neurosci. 2010 Oct;124(5):695-700. DOI: 10.1037/a0020884

Zeisel SH, Niculescu MD. Perinatal choline influences brain structure and function. Nutr Rev. 2006 Apr;64(4):197-203. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2006.tb00202.x

Dhiman P, Pillai RR, Wilson AB, et al. Cross-sectional association between vitamin B12 status and probable postpartum depression in Indian women. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2021 Feb 17;21(1):146. DOI: 10.1186/s12884-021-03622-x

Houghton LA, Yang J, O’Connor DL. Unmetabolized folic acid and total folate concentrations in breast milk are unaffected by low-dose folate supplements. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):216-20. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26564

Williamson JM, Arthurs AL, Smith MD, et al. High Folate, Perturbed One-Carbon Metabolism and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2022 Sep 22;14(19):3930. DOI: 10.3390/nu14193930

Zou Yue Zi – Postpartum from a TCM Perspective

Zuo Yue Zi

Zuo Yue Zi is a long-documented practice in China supporting women/new mothers after birth. It literally translates to “Doing the Month” – this is more commonly known in Western culture as the Golden Month after birth.

What is Zuo Yue Zi?

In China, this special time is characterised by 40 days of total rest with a heavy focus on Chinese diet therapy, hygiene and behavioural precautions. This allows for the birthing mother to rest and replenish her strength, while laying the foundation of her health as mother and care giver.

Why Zuo Yue Zi is crucial in postpartum recovery?

Sufficient postpartum care can provide the healthy foundation for the mother and the newborn but also pave the way for healthy pregnancies in the future. Zuo Yue Zi is even said to help the transition into menopause later in life.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, Zuo Yue Zi is crucial for the recovery of the birthing mother. Childbirth requires tremendous amount of energy, resulting in an imbalance of yin, yang, qi and blood. Due to the expenditure of energy and yang the mother is vulnerable to invasion of cold and wind which can cause illness or possible chronic health issues.

Rules of Zuo Yue Zi

Zuo Yue Zi is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine to protect the new mother and prevent illness. During the 40 days it’s crucial for the mother to prioritise rest, do no housework, limit visitors, stay warm, minimise time spent outside and focus on a nourishing diet that replenishes and harmonises. Traditionally, new mothers are forbidden to wash their hair, go outside, watch TV or read and have zero visitors as it could deplete their energy and unnecessary drama could affect the new family.

How you can implement Zuo Yue Zi in your postpartum journey

Zuo Yue Zi is still practiced in China today and traditionally a care giver, aunty or mother would live with the new parents. They would cook, clean and assist in maintaining the household while the new parents spend time to rest and bond with their newborn. Translating these principles into postpartum life is difficult, which is why many women turn to Traditional Chinese Medicine while implementing Chinese diet therapy.

Diet Therapy during Zuo Yue Zi

Food is one of the most important aspects of “doing the month” with ingredients and herbs carefully selected for their warming and blood building properties while strengthening qi and yang. The meals consumed during this time are always abundant in nutrients, slow cooked, energetically warm, and easy to digest. This is to replenish blood, qi and yang lost during childbirth but also and gently correct any disharmonies. Raw and cold food and drink are to avoided during this time as they are hard to digest and deplete the energy of the already vulnerable mother.

Acupuncture, Herbs and Moxibustion

During this time Traditional Chinese Medicine can be extremely beneficial as it can help to balance emotions, improve energy, help with sleep patterns, promote lactation and perineal healing. It is recommended that acupuncture can be used 2 weeks after childbirth – ideally with a home visit session if possible. Once completing the month and feeling ready to leave the home, treatments in the clinic can commence.

If a home visit for acupuncture is not possible but you still want to follow the principles and access the benefits of a nourishing treatment  – here are some ideas. Try to get someone to take you to your session so you don’t have to drive, make sure you are warmly and snuggly dressed, plan to come directly to the clinic and go home again (no ducking into the shops!) and take time to rest (with a warm bath or warm cup of  your Chinese herbs or breastfeeding tea) afterwards.

In clinic, moxibustion (moxa) is used to stimulate the points and meridians to improve circulation, relieve pain, boost energy, dispel cold and warm the body. After childbirth the moxa is used on the abdomen to warm the channel, stop bleeding and help treat postpartum urinary retention. Moxibustion (moxa) is dried mugwort and is commonly referred as Mother Warming during postpartum period. The use of moxa helps energise the mother and facilitate recovery.

Meghan Smith AcupunctureWritten by Fertile Ground registered acupuncturist, Meghan Smith.

Are you in the postpartum period yourself, or do you know someone who would benefit from this style of care and treatment? Book with Acupuncturist, Meghan, by navigating to bookings > Acupuncture > Acupuncture INITIAL (60 mins)