In today's world, conversations about mental health and self-care are more prevalent than ever. We hear slogans like "be kind," in the media all the time yet there remains a significant amount of judgment and criticism when it comes to those who seek paid support during the postnatal period. The reality is, giving birth and caring for a newborn is an extraordinary challenge, both physically and emotionally. Regardless of the reasons someone opts for postnatal support, it's high time society shifted its focus from judgment to praise for recognising the need for help.
Why the Secrecy ?
Some people will make a conscious decision to not tell anyone they have booked the support of a postnatal doula. Several factors contribute to the secrecy surrounding this:
Economic Status: Many assume that hiring a doula reflects privilege or wealth. However, the truth is that most individuals have made financial sacrifices in other aspects of their lives to prioritise their postnatal recovery and mental health.
Social Stigma: The fear of judgment from cultural and social circles often discourages parents from seeking support. The expectation that they should handle all parenting responsibilities themselves can be overwhelming.
Fear of Criticism: Parents are no strangers to unsolicited advice and criticism. Admitting to hiring help can invite even more unwarranted opinions and judgment from family & friends.
Pressure to Appear Perfect: In the age of social media, the pressure to project a facade of perfection can be stifling. Acknowledging the need for help amidst images of the "perfect lifestyle" can be daunting.
Parenting Skills: Some parents fear that seeking postnatal support implies an inability to handle parenting duties themselves, succumbing to societal expectations and stereotypes.
Privacy and Boundaries: Valuing personal privacy and maintaining boundaries can drive individuals to seek professional support rather than sharing personal information with friends and family.
Promoting a Supportive Environment
We should actively encourage families to seek the support they need. Here are a few ideas to help break the silence:
Gift Vouchers: Encourage friends and family to consider buying gift vouchers towards the cost of postnatal support for expectant parents.
Share Your Experience: If you've personally benefited from postnatal support, make sure to share the advantages with at least one pregnant person.
Support from the Sidelines: If you're a grandparent, relative, or friend of someone receiving support, view it as a positive addition to the postnatal recovery period, not as a snub. Your understanding and encouragement can make a world of difference.
The postnatal period is a journey of growth and adjustment. Let's shift our focus from judgment to support, and celebrate the courage it takes to prioritise mental health and well-being during this transformative phase of life.