The postnatal period is one of the most significant chapters in a mother’s life. The World Health Organization identifies this postpartum stage as the first 6 weeks after childbirth, when a new mother experiences significant changes and challenges.
Because the postnatal period is such a consequential time for mothers, newborns, and the family unit, it’s important to be able to identify patterns of success. A new research study from the University of Central Lancashire in England has discovered four common themes that promote a positive post-birth experience for women.
The Four Themes Identified in the Study
The main goal of this study was to find out what matters most to women after childbirth, so that postnatal resources and services can be shaped to meet the needs of mothers and their newborns. After reviewing data collected from 15 countries, the researchers identified these four themes that define a positive post-birth experience for women:
- Women can adapt to their new identity and develop confidence as a mother, with emotional and psychological support from their partners and community.
- New mothers can adjust to changes in their close relationships.
- New mothers can navigate physical and emotional challenges.
- Women can experience personal growth as they adjust to motherhood and parenting in their own cultural context.
Let’s take a closer look at each one!
Adapt to a New Identity and Develop Confidence
The first theme involves accepting your new role as a mother and boosting self-confidence with the help of your support system. This can be a bit tricky for new moms. Many women feel like they’re starting the most important job on the planet, without any previous experience! Needless to say, it’s easy to feel insecure about motherhood. But postnatal experts want new moms to know that a healthy dose of confidence can make you feel more positive and powerful in your new role. One way to build confidence is to grow your baby knowledge by reading books and articles, listening to parenting podcasts, chatting with other moms and, of course, keeping up with your BabySparks activities! Boosting mom confidence can help you identify as a mother and thrive throughout the postnatal process.
Adjust to Changes in Close Relationships
Most women understand that their social life will shift after childbirth, but many aren’t prepared for the changes in their close relationships. Having the ability to understand and adjust to these changes is the second theme of the positive postnatal experience study. Of course, it can seem almost impossible to actually prepare yourself for changing or diminishing friendships. However, it’s important to remember that when your priorities change, so do your relationships. It’s completely natural to both gain and lose relationships after becoming a parent. Mothers who are able to cope with and adapt to these changes have more positive experiences after childbirth.
Navigate Physical and Emotional Challenges
When all your time and attention revolves around your newborn, it can be easy to forget about your own physical and emotional health. But researchers in this study found that women from various cultures all benefitted from self-care in the postnatal stage. Taking time to rest when you can, eat healthy meals as much as possible, connect with loved ones, and ask for support when needed are all important after childbirth.
Experience Personal Growth While Adjusting to Motherhood
Personal growth encompasses taking time to work on ourselves, learn new things, change habits, or improve behaviors. Researchers learned that women who viewed motherhood as an opportunity to grow and develop had more successful and satisfying experiences throughout the postnatal period. And let’s face it, you can’t help but learn a lot during the first few weeks of motherhood! Remember that these learning experiences are part of growing as a person and as a mother.
The discovery of these four themes is exciting for new families! Kenny Finlayson, the lead author of the study, explains that “with the right support in place from community, family and healthcare professionals during this crucial period, women around the world can feel more confident and adjust to the significant changes that come with motherhood.”