Being pregnant is hard work. From the nausea and bloating of the first trimester, to the swollen hands and feet, discomfort in every part of your body later down the track is only just touching the tip of the iceberg. Being pregnant means huge changes to our body, especially if this is going to be your very first child.
Regardless of choosing to go through the public or the private system, in comparison to many countries in the world, pregnancy care is excellent in Australia. We are given an abundance of information on diet, birth options, and sometimes even have the choice of female medical staff, or exactly which doctor or midwife you’d be able to see for the entire duration of your pregnancy, and the birth of your baby. If you have cultural or language needs, hospitals in Australia also provide free interpreters to make sure that you understand everything and know all your options clearly.
How does Australia compare?
Once the baby is born, the weeks immediately following is referred to as the postpartum, postnatal, or puerperal period. During this time, a woman’s body recovers, and our uterus that held the baby, shrinks rapidly back to the pre-pregnant size. Mothers who have given birth a second time (or more) may experience this shrinkage much more evidently with a much worse onset of lower abdominal cramping, especially when breastfeeding in the first few days.
Australia does not have a set of standardised postpartum care for the mum and her child aside from the 6-week check-up. In fact, many women do not actually have any health professional contact after their discharge from the hospital until their 6-week check-up. It is also very common for women to receive very different information regarding the timings of their first visits to the GP based on their hospital, or even from different health professionals in the same medical practice. There generally seems to have a lack of consistency in the guidelines of community care for postpartum women1.
“women who have just experienced childbirth is not allowed to do any housework, follows a specific diet and cultural practices”
In many cultures, there is traditionally a ‘rest’ or ‘lying-in’ period where women who have just experienced childbirth is not allowed to do any housework, follows a specific diet and cultural practices, and are provided with a network of support from other women in the extended family or community.
Postpartum rituals have an overall tendency to improve the body and mind in the recovery process of the new mother. They help reduce the likelihood of postnatal depression or ‘baby-blues’, while extending the average length of breastfeeding2.
“many families today engage in professional postpartum doulas or confinement services to help them recover both physically, and spiritually”
A similar characteristic to all of these postpartum practices regardless of their culture, is that traditionally, information about childbirth and duties of postpartum care would be provided by female family members or other females in the village or tribe who have experienced childbirth. However as more and more women today opt for western medicine and births in hospitals, mothers, aunts and mothers-in-law may not have the knowledge and skills to care for the mother and her newborn. So many families today engage in professional postpartum doulas or confinement services to help them recover both physically, and spiritually.
We have compiled a list of services around Australia, to help you through this special time after the delivery of your infant (you may be able to get health fund rebates from some of these services with your private health insurer).
Zuo Yuezi / Pui Yuet / Sit the month (Chinese)
Confinement Care, Sydney https://www.confinementcare.com.au/english/services/
Packages with weekly prenatal visits, herbal granules and acupuncture.
Pure Home Care, selected cities in Australia https://purehomecare.com.au/postnatal-confinment-home-care/
Wellness massages, meal preparation, mother & infant day/night/24-hour live-in-home postnatal care services.
Close the Bones Ceremony (Mexican/Mayan)
Madreluna, Regional Victoria https://www.madreluna.com.au/closing-the-bones
Doula services and Closing the Bones Rituals to offer closure to the new mother while aiding her mind, spirit and body to return to the pre-pregnancy state.
The Nourished Mum, Adelaide https://thenourishedmum.com/postnatalmassage
Postnatal massage and Closing of Bones ritual.
Sar Friedman, Sydney https://sarfriedman.com.au/postnatal-ceremony/
Fertility & pregnancy massage, Closing of Bones Ceremony.
Soma Shakti, Sydney https://soma-shakti.com.au/newborn-mama
Doulas, postpartum meals, massage, and support for the new mother and baby.
Special Postpartum Meals & Deliveries
Taste for Life (Chinese) https://tasteforlifeaustralia.com.au/en
Postpartum/Miscarriage Recovery Meal Services for the Confinement period that helps the mother recover her inner balance.
The Golden Month (Chinese & Ayurvedic) https://www.thegoldenmonth.com/
Meals and teas based on traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, delivered monthly or weekly.