Postpartum care is often labelled the Cinderella sector of maternity care; the main event is over, the pregnant princess becomes the postpartum pauper, and she’s left to fend for herself.
It’s an emotive characterisation but it’s also the reality for most birthing mothers in Australia, where —unless you have continuity of care with a private midwife — you’ll be discharged from hospital or at-home midwifery care and won’t have a scheduled health appointment till your six-week check.
A high proportion of new parents in Australia are likely to be using Instagram; scrolling while stuck under a cluster-feeding baby is a common experience.
On Instagram you can also find education about the root biological causes of anxiety and stress in new motherhood; how maternal brain changes can make you more empathetic and responsive to facial cues and potential threats; and that the dark side of oxytocin is that it can also heighten hyper vigilance.
In the isolation of nuclear homes, we go in search of a virtual village for company.
While socials can offer connection and support, they can also pedal unhelpful ideals and unrealistic expectations, exacerbating a mother’s doubt and loneliness.
Body positivity in postpartum isn’t evident on Instagram and neither are realistic postpartum bodies; there’s a distinct lack of stretch marks, doughy bellies, caesarean scars and cellulite.
Re-emergence of an eating disorder is highly likely in the perinatal period with 70 per cent of new mothers dieting by four-months postpartum.