Postpartum Life in a Book
Mum to Mum
The sweet, The awkward, The perplexing.
Get to know Tori Bowman
- When did you first realise you wanted to write a book about postpartum?
When I was first getting used to breastfeeding, my midwife came over and gave me some tips, took photos on my phone and directed me towards some helpful websites and YouTube videos. I was overwhelmed by the amount of information there was about feeding. Prior to birth, I thought you put the baby to the boob and that was it. HA. How wrong I was.
In the days following I was baffled by the fact I couldn't control my bladder (every time I saw the shower running, I'd wee!), each morning I'd wake in a pool of sweat! I was starving beyond belief, I couldn't get over the size of my boobs (from a B cup to a DDDDDDD) and the fact I felt so busy by the babies needs ... but simultaneously a little bored by the amount of sitting down I was doing was a complex I never planned for.
I started to take notes on all of this stuff for my friends when they had their babies. But it didn't take long for me to yearn for a creative outlet ... a space where I could mentally vanish into when I needed a break from 'mum life' in those very early days when you feel anchored to the house, the couch & of course the plethora of the maternity pad stash!
... so AFTERWARDS was born.
- Tell us about your book " Afterwards "
AFTERWARDS is a book written for every mumma post birth. It's not a book about mothering or about caring for newborns ... but rather a book that explains to a vulnerable, sore, exhausted & relatively blindsided new mum things like, how to do a poo post birth. Yep! You read that correctly. How to conquer personal hygiene when you have stitches downstairs & pads covering every orifice of your body. How to cope with engorged boobs, or recognise & treat very uncomfortable conditions such as Mastitis.
How to start thinking about ever wanting to return to sex. How to cope with hair loss, lack of bladder control, changing skin conditions, guilt, night sweats. How to involve your partner when you get a sense they're feeling helpless.
AFTERWARDS explains to women in layman's or relatable terms what 'actually' happens to your internals during & post birth i.e. your pelvic floor region. To many women this information may be obvious ... but to many others (myself included), matters of human biology are widely unknown and therefore neglected during postpartum ... leading to bigger and longer term issues, both mentally & physically.
In short, AFTERWARDS is a modern age book that helps to explain to mums that we ALL go through this rather icky stage of life together. No one should ever feel embarrassed by what is happening to their body, as you're far from alone. Every new mum is swimming in a pool of milk, sweat, cold coffee, blood, (...that sounds gory but let's face it - it's true!), sweat and tears. BUT, you WILL be ok!!!
-What advice would you give to the women that are going through the journey of their new self as a mother?
Go with your gut. You can read as much as you'd like about birth & beyond, however but in my opinion, a mumma knows best. Also, when you're EVER in doubt regarding your mental health - talk to someone asap or just make an appointment with your GP. A happy mumma who is able to cope, is a fabulous mumma.
And lastly. When help is offered - just say yes.
- How do you find balance between motherhood and self care?
I think balance to me, means raising my bubs in a way that aligns to the lifestyle my husband and I have created. Don't get me wrong - I'm big on sleep training, naps etc. But I've learnt that to survive the early days of motherhood, to an extent, you can set up your 'routine' and your home so that it 'suits' you and the lifestyle you lead prior to kids.
For example, I continued to work through pregnancy & postpartum because creative work (from home), to me personally, is where I foster energy and momentum. If I was to stop this, I know I would flounder and things around me would crumble. This meant I had to forfeit government support (financially), but as a family - this route worked better for us on a mental health level. If I (the primary carer) remained calm, energised and creatively stimulated - I could cope with the more 'mundane' side of motherhood (i.e. washing, sterilising, cooking, cleaning etc) with a greater sense of positivity.
I look at this as 'self care'.
- Any advice to the women that are struggling to re-connect to their partners after having a baby?
Look at things from their perspective just for a moment. SO much has happened/is happening to you, the mother physically & neurochemistry throughout conception, pregnancy, birth & now postpartum. SO SO much. While they, the partner, have also gone through huge changes mentally (of course!!), the level of change at their end is on a different scale.
As a couple - you're now speaking 'two' different languages so-to-speak, so to translate each other's emotions - genuine honesty is required.
For example when I am breastfeeding, I simply do not want to be touched. I get very cranky & snappy when I do. I don't want hugs or even pats on the back. I want ... sorry, I *need* space. This can be taken quite abruptly by the other person if I don't explain why. And the reason is simple, 'I have a human literally living off my body at the moment - I am at true capacity RE human touch. I am also tired, sore and hungry. I love you, sure! But I'd love you from a 2m radius, ... and even more if you made me a sandwich right now & poured me a wine.'
Everyone in the household should get a copy of The Postnatal Depletion Cure. Not to go too deep in discussion or unpacking too many emotions while everyone is so vulnerable and sleep deprived. Simply so that everyone understands what 'mum' is going through. It's far more than what meets the eye. Everyone needs to understand each other.
- What are the best lessons your children have taught you?
To be patient. To be calm using deep breaths. To love puzzles. To cherish those genuine cuddles where you just crave their skin on your skin.
To always have an adequate supply of Vaalia Yogurt pouches in the fridge.
To put others before yourself. To laugh when sh*t hits the fan. To share food (...I feel good for learning this at the ripe ol' age of 32).
And they have taught me just how important my family and friends are, and how fortunate I am. I wouldn't be the mum I am without them.
A bit of Tori:
Wonder Novel by R. J. Palacio, One Day David Nicholls and Olive by Emma Gannon would all be up there.
Self love routine?
I love to A) shower (showering to me is PEACE) B) Double cleanse (the feeling of that first oil cleanse is so relaxing) and C) to lather on layers of oils, creams & balms before bed.
Your favourite place in the world?
Home. I have always been a homebody.