Book review – ‘Life After Birth’ by Jessica Prescott & Vaughn Geary
Written by Vanessa Barnard, Illoura Birth.
Postpartum is a time that is often overlooked during pregnancy, with many parents finding themselves focusing just on the birth. While birth preparation is great and does require time and space, it is also essential for families to invest in their postpartum. Postpartum is a time of enormous transformation for all involved, but for the mother, it’s even more. Not only does she journey through pregnancy and birth, but postpartum is where she meets her new self. There are body changes, both internal and external, to adjust to and accept and on top of this, she is caring for her baby, who requires around-the-clock care.
Postpartum is a big deal, so I highly recommend Life After Birth. Written by Doulas themselves, Jessica Prescott and Vaughn Geary who take a deep dive into postpartum, covering all the topics women need to know about and understand as they journey through becoming maiden to mother.
This book not only gives tips and information to help guide yourself but also tips and information for the mother’s support network to read. What is great about this book is that it is evidence-based, providing all the reference sources if you delve further into topics. While the book is evidence-based, it also takes a gentle and holistic approach to postpartum. You will feel like the authors are holding your hand as you make your way through the book.
The book is easy to follow and digest. It is spread over six chapters, each with its unique focus on postpartum and bringing humour to lighten the shock that postpartum can be on so many.
Chapter one takes you on a journey through postpartum planning. This chapter encourages you to work on your mindset for postpartum by beginning to tune into your emotions and understand the changes that occur during pregnancy, birth and the transition from maiden to mother. Understanding the emotional changes that occur postpartum is important, and the authors provide some gentle journaling exercises and tips to practice emotional regulation. Following this, the discussion moves into relationships and the changes that can occur, both within yourself and for you and your partner, your other children and those close to you.
What is beautiful about this chapter is the focus on setting up your nest or sanctuary to support recovery and provide a sense of calm amongst what can feel like the chaos of newborn and post-birth recovery. The authors, well-known postpartum doulas with a successful postpartum meal delivery business, discuss the postpartum nutritional pillars with information on the ingredients to stock the pantry. This section of the book ties in nicely towards the end, where a whole chapter is dedicated to nutrition and herbal support, followed by wholesome, simple postpartum recipes that aid in recovery for all birth types.
Life After Birth is a refreshing read for any expectant parent or anyone supporting women during this phase. The book showcases postpartum in all its raw form, discussing important topics that often leave women cringing over or just not knowing where to or how to bring them up. Inside the fourth-trimester chapter is an array of tips on practical birth recovery for vaginal and caesarean birth and understanding the common ailments experienced during this period. There is no denying postpartum is raw and messy, and everything in between, and the book does not shy away from this but instead highlights it in a way that encourages you to celebrate these changes and provides gentle messages throughout, reinforcing how strong a woman is and just how much the body is experiencing in such a short time.
What is great to see in this book is a postpartum recovery timeline and what this may look like. Many women are told it takes six weeks to recover and return to exercise and sex. The timeline in the book is realistic and discusses how recovery can take up until two years, acknowledging that many things take time to return to somewhat normal. This follows with ways in which the mother can honour her body with many different rituals and options that can be used for self-care during postpartum.
As mentioned, many sections provide information to the partner or the woman’s support and how they can help while at home. This book does cover it all; of course, it wouldn’t be a postpartum book if mental health was not discussed. Mental health topics are discussed, from the common feelings of baby blues to the signs and symptoms of post-natal anxiety and depression. Birth trauma is also touched on, along with what emotions may be present in circumstances of a baby needing admission to a special care or intensive care unit or in tragic events where a baby has been lost.
The authors have drawn expertise from several health professionals ranging from a lactation consultant to a women’s health physiotherapist. There is even a chapter dedicated to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding education is, again, something many only engage in after their baby arrives. What is a very natural thing to do only sometimes comes naturally, which is the author’s message. Education about breastfeeding is essential. In the breastfeeding chapter, a lactation consultant provides simple and easy-to-digest information to get you started on the road to building your knowledge around breastfeeding and prompt your thinking about what you may like to do for your own preparation. All the common breastfeeding challenges are briefly discussed, along with what to expect in your baby’s feeding patterns during the first week after birth.
This book is a must-read for any woman heading into postpartum, whether it be her first or fourth baby. This book covers the first few days and weeks and goes beyond the months and years following birth. This book is great to purchase for yourself, and it would make a wonderful and meaningful gift for a mum-to-be.
My name is Vanessa Barnard, and I am the founder of Illoura Birth. I am a Childbirth and Newborn Educator, Doula training with the Doula Training Academy and Paediatric Nurse. My mission is to support families on the journey to meeting their babies with holistic and evidence-based information. My focus is to inspire and boost your confidence on this journey through pregnancy, birth & postpartum.
If you would like to learn more information, please get in touch with me:
0413 763 373