[Episode 15] Postpartum

You've got a baby. Now what? All eyes are now on the baby. Yet, there is a turmoil inside you that needs attention as well and is too often unspoken of.

In Episode #15 of Moms Talk with a French Accent, La Petite Creme moms Fanny, Cecile, and Varisa talk about their own postpartum journeys and share some practical tips to prepare your entry into this vulnerable phase of your life.

(full text transcript below the video)


Moms Talk with Dr. Varisa Perlman [Episode #15]: Postpartum

Cecile: Hi!

Fanny: Hello!

Cecile: Welcome to Episode #15 of Moms Talk with a French Accent. We're the French moms.

Fanny: Yeah, we have a French accent.

Cecile: We have the accents. We took it with us today. Welcome. Hi!

Fanny: Hi!

Cecile: Hello, hello. Thank you for joining. Hi. We're going to be joined in a couple of seconds by our own pediatrician, Dr. Varisa Perlman. But stick around, because today is going to be a little different, so we're super excited. Hi, everybody who's joining now. Welcome, welcome. So we're super excited because today we're doing something a little new.

Fanny: Hi.

Cecile: Hi, Varisa.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi. How are you?

Cecile: Hi.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I love the whole wardrobe of these shirts. They're so cool.

Cecile: Yes, look at that. We're getting more and more fancy by the day. So we're going to have those on our website soon, so stay tuned for that. So we're here today for episode number—Hi! We're here for Episode #15. We have something special today. Fanny, do you want to talk about what's special today?

Fanny: Yes. So today, for everybody that join us during the live, we will ask you a question and you just put your answer in the comments, and at some point on the live, we will pick one comment and you will have the opportunity to win one of our products. That will be our bundle. That's a little gift set, and inside, you have all of our products. You have the diapering lotion and the diapering balm and also disposable pad to use the lotion. So stay tuned and just listen for the question, and we hope that you're going to engage in the comments and you will be entered to win this awesome kit.

Cecile: And we'll announce the winner during the live so you have to stay here to claim your prize. Hi, Lisa. Hi, everybody who's been joining. So let's get to it then. Today's topic is postpartum. And hi, everyone joining.

Fanny: Hi, everyone.

Cecile: So today is postpartum, and we are going to go around and maybe introduce ourselves for those of you who don't know us. So I'm Cecile. I'm one of the co-founder here at La Petite Creme, the expert in butt health [laughs] how we like to call it, with a French accent because everything in French sounds a little more cute than butt, so we'll throw that in there.

Fanny: So I'm Fanny. I'm the other co-founder of La Petite Creme, and I'm also a mom of two. First daughter is five years old and I have a small one which almost turned two.

Cecile: And Varisa here.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi, I'm Dr. Varisa Perlman. I'm a pediatrician and also a health coach. And I'm based out of New York, but when I was in Miami, I was a pediatrician for these two beautiful families. So that's how we met, that's how we started working together.

Cecile: Yes. So today, we are continuing on our series that we started a couple of months ago regarding topics that are very close to the heart of mothers because we are all mothers. As Fanny mentioned, she has two kids, Varisa, you have two children as well, and I have two kids. So we share the same experience of being a mother with a whole different aspect in each of our lives and we pick topics that we want to dissect and come with a new perspective on very honestly and very naively, I would say.

So today we picked postpartum because postpartum is a whole important, very vulnerable phase of a woman's life. And we thought it was important to talk about this period of time and share some of the things that maybe we have experienced that some of them are not really talked about too much, and also, try to get your sense for what postpartum means to you who are watching and what you wish you had known before, and what you have learned and would like to carry away to a future pregnancy or to your motherhood style in general. So yeah, so that's the topic for the day. Varisa, do you want to put in on what your postpartum world or aspirations.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: The reason why I like talking about this topic is because I do think that there isn't a lot of thought given to it, and I'm not even talking about—I think that we talk about things in a very floaty way, so like, "I just want to be well-rested and happy." And I just think that there are so many moving parts that need to happen. The moving parts that are the most obvious is that your body—you just gave birth—is going through a lot. And there's a lot of changes that your body has to adjust to that we don't always get space for to discuss.

And then there's also the other piece of this chaotic, moving, developmentally, physically changing baby. When I do a lot of the talks, I may be telling people who are pregnant or whatnot, when I do things to prepare for, you'll see me only talk about the first two weeks. And there are people sitting there and they're just like, "What do you mean just the first two weeks?" And I'm like, "You don't understand. Those first two weeks is like a day-to-day game." The things that change from day to day are so incredible that sometimes you just need time to just see them talk about the first two weeks.

So as we talk, you're going to hear me spread that concept of postpartum a little bit longer. I feel like that first year to me is such a moving space. And then once you go past the two weeks, then you go to the one month, and then the two months, they start getting shots, if they are getting shots, and they start to have more developmental goals, four to six months, and then there's feeding, there's all kinds of stuff. But then four to six months, you end up having issues with starting to talk about some solid food coming into it. I feel like the food really—Sleep is also moving around.

Your milk supply is changing around depending on your activity level if you're breastfeeding, and then after six months, you go to nine months and now they're much more mobile. They're much more interactive. So they're a little bit more fun in some ways, but at the same time, they're also more and more difficult. And then you go 9 to 12 months. So your progress, your experience is going to be colored by what developmental stage your kids are in. I can't separate the two. It's hard to separate the two.

Cecile: To go even further than that, it feels like postpartum is almost your new state after you have kids. You have to realize that your body might never be the same. You will never be the same. The whole, as you mentioned, that dance between baby and mom will never be the same. So it feels like there is a prepartum and a postpartum. There is a before and after in so many aspects because how many times when you have—My kids are a little older, they're like 10 now, but how many times am I looking back and be like, "What was I doing before?" [laughs] That's a new stage of life, but it does feel like the postpartum is that whole new phase of where you're always very in tune with the baby.

So the first few weeks, months, in all of us, what would be one of the memory, maybe Varisa, and you, Fanny, and I'll share mine too, of one of the things that strike us that we probably didn't anticipate during that postpartum time?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Why don't you guys go ahead and I'm going to clean that up a little bit? Because I feel like what you're going to say is probably what I'm going to say. So you start first, I'm going to give you how I've seen it play out, the kind of things that what you're saying. Go ahead.

Cecile: Do you want to start?

Fanny: Yeah, I can start. So I don't know if it's a memory, but the thing that eats me the most when I was in postpartum, mostly for my first child, because I think postpartum is more intense when it is your first child, for me it was the case, that was I think the lack of communication when you are pregnant around the bonding you and your baby. So I get a lot of guilt because I had trouble and need an adjustment to really bond with my baby, so I felt so guilty as a mom. I was like, "What is my problem?" I loved her, of course, but the bonding that everybody's describing, I was like, "Okay I did not felt in love in this bursting room," and I felt so bad about it.

And after a couple of weeks, only weeks, I kept it for myself, I felt so bad, and I shared that with my friend around, and almost all of my friends say, "Oh, no, don't worry, it's totally fine. Everybody is like that. For some people, you just learn how to bond with your baby. It's not like something that's natural for everybody." So I felt so relieved after this conversation. I was like, "Okay, so I'm not a monster. That's a good thing." I share with my husband and I say, "You know what? I spoke to this person, this person, and they felt the same. So I'm good."

Yeah, that was my experience, and I didn't get that for my second one because I was prepared and said, "Okay, let's learn to know him and me as a mom of him." And I was way better.

Cecile: Yeah, the expectation was different.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Okay. Go ahead, Cecile.

Cecile: And for me, I have a vivid memory of the six months mark for my daughter. The six months to me came as a wall. I think I had anticipated the postpartum as being, as you said, the first few weeks, like the sleep and the eating. And I felt like I had that and I had support for that and I had prepared for that. But then as the presence of others and the caring and people being aware that you're a new mom, that fade off and you become just a normal person again in the eyes of others. So nobody really give you the call to say, "Can I help you with something?"

And then you probably either return to work or your spouse is now at work. Everything falls into place, but your body is not there yet. And I really felt the exhaustion from breastfeeding. I felt like I was just physically drained. And I felt very lonely and I felt very useless because I was with this child every day. And I was like, I'm not creating anything. I'm just here day after day and every day look the same. So to me, that was really that intense moment where I thought that by now I should be like, "Okay, good to go, now I'm a mom." I'm out of that postpartum whatever, but that to me was really a very important point that was difficult to go over.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, yes, yes. Okay. The reason why I want you guys to go first is because I had a couple of thoughts in my mind and it helped me organize them a little bit. There's a couple of elements, two themes that came out when I think of postpartum, and two of the things I actually focus on the most when I see families at that stage, in the first visits. I see babies and their families sometimes less than 24 hours after they're born. I see them very quickly. And then I'll see them in the office at three weeks or at five days, at two weeks, one month, two months, four months.

So literally, it's watching a movie. And what was so amazing to me, there are two themes that I thought were really resonating with what you were saying. One was expectation. The both of you, did we all see a movie? Was there a movie that someone [laughs] sent all of us with our pregnancy tests that said, "Congratulations, you are pregnant and this is how it's supposed to go"?

You guys are basically describing cartoons, like you gaze at the child and your eyes lock. I mean, if you actually listen back to yourselves, you're describing things that are like—they sound silly. Like, "When I first fall in love, this is how it's going to be." And all of us know when you fall in love, it's pretty messy. The whole thing is pretty messy. It's not like instantaneous, like, ding, it comes, you know? But yet, that is the reel that plays in our head.

So if I was going to talk to someone who was about to go into that space or is in that space, the first thing you want to do is just like, as many preconceived notions as you have, literally hit the delete button, just delete them. Just delete them, okay? [laughs] Because you are basically walking into a pool of chaos. You know what I mean? Between your baby your body.

When you're pregnant, there is chaos, but there's usually not that other end, you're really focused on yourself. I don't have to tell someone who's pregnant, "You got to eat well, make sure—Eat, sleep, stress." And they all know that that's important. But for some reason, you give birth, and all of a sudden, you're like, "I don't need to do any of those things. I'll be just fine. I'll fall in love with my child." It's like, wait, wait, wait, when did the movie change? Why did we change to this? This is a bad movie. We're all going to fail. We all are going to fail and leave ourselves with senses of guilt and loneliness. That was two things that you guys really—

They have some crazy statistics where by six months, men and women of newly born child, 80% are clinically depressed. I mean, it's just, the movie is just false. It's just all false. So if I was going to give any advice, I always tell people, "Just let it go." The reason why I think that sometimes the second one is easier is because you see what a disaster the first one is. [laughs] So you realize that you really don't have control over everything and you give up a little bit more, and actually, that breeds a better environment.

So let's talk about environment. So if I'm sitting here and I'm pregnant, which, I'm not even going to say that loud because my husband would freak out. Our kids are in college now, so even just joking about it, he's like, "Don't joke about that. Don't joke about that." But if I was sitting here, I was pregnant, I would start thinking, "Who's coming by my house? Who's visiting me? Who's going to be the support person? Who's going to be there when I need someone to hold the baby while I take a shower? Who are the people? Who are the phone calls I'm going to be making?

Cecile: Hi, Pauline. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Who are the phone calls I'm going to make? Who are the people around me, the environment? Because how am I going to eat? How is the food going to come? Eat, sleep, stress. Which friends are going to come over? They're going to cheer me up and say, "Hey, what are you doing? What's going on?" Because in the end of the day, what destroyed your vision was that you thought this baby would pop out. It wasn't that you weren't in love with the baby, but you were not in love with the situation. [laughs]

Cecile: Yes. Hell yeah.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: You were not in love with that situation. And the thought that you would have to be continuing the situation where you're not sleeping, you're barely eating, you don't know where you are, you're hurting everywhere. Who loves that? Who wants to be in love with that? Why is that a setting to fall in love? I would be like, "Can you get me out of here?" But you see how you place that on the baby. "That must mean I'm not in love with the baby."

Fanny: Yes. We have a couple of people that just joined, so hi to everybody.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi.

Cecile: Hi.

Fanny: Just going to remind that we are talking about postpartum, so welcome, everyone. Just let us know in the comments if you are pregnant or if you are actually in postpartum or just have an older kid, we would love to know if you are pregnant or if you are in the postpartum period. That way, we can cheer you up. So yes, let us know.

And also just want to remind people who are watching that we are going to give away today our products. So that's our diapering lotion and our diapering balm and cotton pad that you use to apply. So if you are pregnant or you are in the postpartum period, that's a wonderful thing to win. So let us know in the comments if you are pregnant or in your postpartum period. We'd like to know and interact with you directly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And if you don't have kids who may need those products, you could use them yourself. I'm still trying to push this whole, like, this is for the women too, because I think it's a great product for women, multiple places on our body that are sensitive.

Cecile: And it's good for postpartum. So it's very fitting because you can use the lotion for postpartum after you have your baby, when your private parts are pretty sensitive from everything that went down there. So using that lotion would make the wiping easier. That's a sidenote to that. So sorry, you were saying.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: No, I think that I would try to think about, how am I going to get food? Who's going to bring food? What's the schedule? You might say that I'm going to have this group of people come at the beginning of my pregnancy. And then around six months, maybe people with kids will come and visit me then so that they can cheer me up and we can have a little time where the kids will actually start to play together, and we can talk, and I can feel like a normal person for about 15 minutes. [laughs]

And also, we talk about stress. What family members do you want in your space? What family members do you not want in your space? I mean, you are allowed to say that. You are allowed to make those decisions. But when you spend a little bit—It was interesting, because Fanny, you actually mentioned, the second one, you had an easier time because of that, because you actually did take a little—You were like, "Okay, now I know who do I really need around and who I do not want, I don't need them around?" [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah, exactly. You know better for the second one.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And so the first time around, it is hard, but at least you have to have a little bit of thought. I felt like there was a lot of, when you come home and there's a lot of people and they're all trying to help and everybody takes things away from you, but what means that is that they think, "Oh, these people are going to come over, that person—" and you also lose control of your environment. So just add that to a list of reasons why you don't feel so in love with.

Fanny: Yeah. All people doesn't necessarily want someone home. They feel like it's their private moment with their family and they don't want to have a schedule of person coming. And sometimes when people just say, "How can I help you?" For you, it's overwhelming because you don't know what you need.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: You don't.

Fanny: At this period, it's so foggy and you're just not even able to say what you need. You just need someone to give you something and say, "Okay, that's what I needed."

Cecile: So we have samij26 in the comments who said, your postpartum with your second and last baby. So—

Fanny: Congratulations!

Cecile: Congratulations, yes. And we hope you're enjoying that period to enjoy the baby because that's really what's most important.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.

Fanny: Yes.

Cecile: Hug them tight, and by doing that, you're doing already a great job.

Fanny: Exactly. And what we need to not forget, as you said, Cecile, you had the impression that you produce nothing, but that's totally wrong because we are making a human being and we make that human being survive. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.

Fanny: So that's a full-time job right there, but we do not recognize it as much as we need, but we should, because it's a tremendous work that we produce every day. And you have to be on top of every day.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Again, we could all rattle off what women who are pregnant should eat, and we all know, yes, of course, if we are pregnant, what we eat affects how the baby grows. Everyone seems to understand that. But the minute the baby's taken out of the woman's body, there's no connection. Even if you're not breastfeeding, if you are completely like no energy and can't do anything because you haven't eaten all day, it doesn't work. So I never understood why we disconnected that when the baby was born.

I've had a woman, she was trying to breastfeed and she didn't have any milk. It was 4 o'clock. She was one of my last patients. And I asked her, so the first question I asked her, she's like, "I'm not making any milk." "What did you eat today? It's 4 o'clock." And she goes, "I haven't eaten anything all day. The baby's been so difficult. I haven't been able to eat" So I said, "Where's the milk supposed to come from, like from the sky?" What you eat is what goes into the milk. And I don't exactly know why there's this strange disconnect.

But one of the things that you talk about, and I mean, again, I think that it's big shifts and mental wellness gets affected in a big way. Like I said, there's such a common element of even men and women both having a lot of issues adjusting to that period of the first six months. But here you are, Fanny, where you're like, "Why isn't this spontaneous love affair with this baby not happening?" But if your body's like, "I am not even sure what day it is." [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah. Everything is—

Dr. Varisa Perlman: "I didn't sleep all night. Nothing is going to look lovely to me. I'm not falling in love with anybody."

Cecile: And also, you mentioned the situation because no matter how old you are when you have your child, you were with yourself prior to this intruder coming into your life. In your relationship, in your home, in your bed, in your bathroom, you used to be just you, and you made it comfortable, hopefully, for you. So having this being who is challenging every single thing that you used to be good at or you felt comfortable doing, all of a sudden, this person seemed to always be poking you at the worst time. You're sitting and you're like, "Oh, I'm going to eat," and then the baby starts crying.

Anybody in the comments have this thing where every time there is warm food-

Fanny: On the table.

Cecile: -in front of a new mom, the baby cries every single time. There's no way you can eat warm food. So it gets hard also to not be resentful of like, "Okay, can it be me? Can it be just—Give me a moment. I just want to get back to what I built over those years to be comfortable enough to say I'm going to have a baby. But it's shaking everything, which makes it difficult to find your ground.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I mean, pick your people. Sit where you are. Let's assume that we haven't given birth, 'cause this conversation—but honestly, it should be the conversation we have with ourselves all the time. Different people are good for different reasons. So you were asking, Fanny, I think that's a very fair question. If you're sitting there, you're like, "What do I need? What do I actually need?" And what we do need is that you need somebody for different moments in your day.

So like you're saying, being able to actually have a meal from beginning to end that doesn't need to be reheated four times because you just kept walking away from it is a luxury beyond belief. I remember bringing my kids when they were able to run around and I would have my birthday dinners at IKEA. And you say, "IKEA, [laughs] why would you go to IKEA for your birthday?" It's because they had a little playground next to the cafeteria and my kids would actually like the playground, and I could sit there and just eat without having to feed anyone else. I felt like I was in a five-star French restaurant because it was so fantastic.

And it was that kind of thing where what I needed—There are actually very practical things you need. When people come over, I don't know, A, you're not an entertainer. People who are coming over and are like, "Oh, I'm so excited for you to cook dinner for me," don't invite them over. They don't need to come over. We're good. People who are like, "Hey, Can I bring something over to eat?" Yes. Even if you can't eat it because you're breastfeeding, you maybe can't have dairy, whatever, somebody will eat it. Food will be provided. So tell them to bring— [laughs] yes, the IKEA thing, I feel like—

Fanny: [laughs] Yes, the IKEA—

Cecile: I go to IKEA with my toddler when I don't need anything. Yes.

Fanny: Yes.

Cecile: Free daycare.

Fanny: Free daycare, yes.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: They have no idea how much sweeter their food tastes when it doesn't have to be reheated over and over again. So yes, that's a big yes on that. So I mean, you really need to know, "When you come over, can you bring some food?" Because honestly, I feel like there's never enough food. Whether it be other kids, it's like, "You just bring over some food." And two, if it's someone who really is willing to just be present with you. I think what we have is this whole dynamic where, again, entertaining—

The hardest thing about being with your baby is to be mentally, emotionally present with them. But if you have someone over who can't just sit with you while you—It's tricky. You really want somebody who can just sit with you or just watch TV, watch the baby a little bit.

Cecile: Or do the dishes, or broom. Do something that would move the—Put some laundry away. Anything that they see as being out of place. I don't know, organize stuff for half an hour.

Fanny: Without asking. Because you won't feel bad to ask people that visit you to do like dishes or laundry. If you visit a new mom, do whatever you think is right to do to help her. Just don't ask because me, personally, I would feel bad to have people in my house and say, "Yeah, you can load the laundry."

Cecile: But if they load it and they ask you which button they're supposed to press, you got to tell them.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right, forget it. It's not happening. Or bring over a food that you think that you guys would enjoy. Or if they could even watch your kid for 15 minutes while you take a luxurious shower.

Fanny: Oh, yes.

Cecile: Yes.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: It doesn't even take much. It takes 15 minutes sometimes. My husband—Okay, again, especially when the kids were younger, I'd always go to the bathroom or pee or whatever, especially pee, with the door open. He's like, "Why is the door open?" And I'm like, "You don't understand. When I'm with the kids, I have to have the door open because they come in or they knock on the door, and I don't want to get up. It's so annoying." And so I'm always like, "Hey, all right, what's going on?" I mean, I can yell at them from the bathroom. It's a terrible thing, but it's the kind of thing where like you don't have your space anymore. It's a real luxury.

So being able to help a new parent or to be a new parent when you're asking for help, it's just moments like space. They can watch the baby for 15 minutes, half an hour while you take a walk around the neighborhood by yourself is magical, just magical.

Just to remind, I know you guys are thinking, because we've got the freebie, they should stay until the end.

Cecile: Yeah. So in a few minutes, we're going to ask a question and we want your comments, and whoever participates in the comment, we're going to draw one name from the comments to that one giveaway question. So stay tuned, stay around. Participate to the conversation. So we had one person who says she's in postpartum. Anybody pregnant in the audience or anybody who is just about to enter the postpartum period who would like to raise their hand?

Because a lot of that happens, unfortunately, should happen before we get into that state of mind of postpartum. Unfortunately, when you are in postpartum, your brain is already consumed with so many, I would say alarm trigger of like the emergency of you and your baby, the very basic, you know, sleep, eat, bathroom, stress for you, and then for baby, that you don't have room to reflect and think and take a step back. When you're pregnant is the perfect time to talk about postpartum so that, as you said, the expectation can be set to where you know how to react when you are in those phases of stress and crisis afterwards.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And I will say, I mean, I think this is a theme that we talk about a lot, and I think only because, I don't know, I feel like sometimes we're just not really encouraged to speak up for ourselves. One of the things that you brought up that I thought was good, Fanny, is that you were talking about the second one being a space where you were able to communicate a little bit better, that you felt a little bit more comfortable with it. And I think that if you really have some friends who, when you're around them, just feel lousy about yourself, you know, like when they talk, they just—People don't mean harm, but sometimes people are not as supportive as they are. That's not a good person for you to invite over in those first six months because you're tired.

And Fanny, it sounds like being able to speak to your friends and have them validate that you're not a monster [laughs] but they really in real-time were able to say, "Hey, what are you doing? That's not something that you should be worried about," it's a game-changer. It's a real game-changer. And I love my husband, but I don't really hear those conversations amongst men. [laughs]

Cecile: Or even within your relationship, sometimes it's hard because you don't also want to share some of the stuff with your partner because they don't know either. And you don't want to be seen as like, "I don't know what I'm doing. I'm supposed to be the mother." And then the guilt kicks in again where you're like, "Okay, what is he going to think if he thinks I can't handle that where I'm biologically programmed to have a baby, so that's my stuff, I should know about it. And if I don't know, then he should know even less because he doesn't have the body parts to be a mom."

So it also plays a role in there where even if you have the strongest relationship, it's okay if you can't speak to your partner about it. And it's a fair thing to not do because they might not be the person to go to. 3

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. It's this idea, we always should believe that it takes a village. It really does take a village. And there's different people in your village that are useful for different things. When we talk about all the scripts that are written out there as to how things are supposed to be. So women are supposed to fall in love the moment they see the baby. I've heard guys say, "Yeah, for men, you don't really have to love your baby until they're like talking and walking and they're more fun." And I'm like, "Who told you that?" [laughs]

It's universal. I've had multiple men say, "Yeah, me and my friends, we all agree that the babies are not fun until they're three or four. And so we really don't—it's totally understandable if we're not bonded to them." And so I'm like, "Oh, so you guys get three or four years to adjust whereas we're literally thrown into the pit and being like, "Why don't you love your baby?"

I mean, think about how crazy this is that we have a totally different script. They got a better script, honestly, you know, because it does take three or four years to recuperate and be like, "Oh, oh, yeah, okay. Yeah, I'm cool with this," and not be resentful, and not be sleep-deprived, and not be underfed and undernourished in every possible way. It's a crazy idea.

The things that we seem to like to talk about, [laughs] the three of us, are things that are kind of like a taboo thing. Obviously, there's the logistics of the first couple of days and breastfeeding or bottle feeding and getting your days and nights back into each other, trying to sleep at night so that you can at least—The torture research says that you need four hours of uninterrupted sleep to not go clinically insane. So if at night, that means—

Cecile: Maybe that's the first thing we should teach babies when they come out, that mommy needs four hours of uninterrupted sleep. [laughs]

Fanny: Or you won't survive. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: We had this situation—And I'm not saying I did all—I wish I had this talk when I was pregnant because I had a lot of family everywhere. And in the beginning, everyone was holding the baby all day, and the baby slept all day.

Fanny: And also, they are overstimulated. That's too much person touching them. And at the end of the day, they just don't want to sleep because they are overstimulated. That's a real thing.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Especially when there's a lot of people around, when the baby's in the womb, they're between the two great vessels. So when you put on those womb sounds, you ever heard the womb sound things? It's like, shoo, shoo. Why is it soothing? Because that's a very familiar sound for them. When you have a lot of people at the house, you think, "Oh, this is going to keep the baby up." No, the baby's like, "This is great." The loud noises are actually very calming to them.

So we would have all these people at our house, and we were doing what I said not to do, entertaining, walking around with my C-section star, like, "Oh, yeah, sure, you want another drink?" You know what I mean? I don't know what I was thinking. And at night, I remember my husband, I would be walking up the stairs. And my baby, my first one, is he would—one eye would open like a pirate. And I was like, "No!" I know what that meant. I knew that that meant that the whole night, we would be up. And so it really wasn't helpful in that situation to have so many people. It was just too much. It wasn't helpful. It just wasn't helpful.

I think that we have this whole—and every culture does it. Maybe you can say a little bit to me about French families, what they do, but Asian families are very much of like—you know, listen, there's a lot of ways that every culture is annoying and great, whatever, but postpartum time for Asian families is a time where you do give up, but they end up cooking, cleaning. And the culture is to literally homebound the mother for like a month so that everything is taken care of for them so that they can feed the baby, they can recuperate. It's a very nutritive.

And then other cultures I've seen, I had mothers who were maybe Latin American, you know, being in Miami, you meet a lot, and they would literally have like—I mean, the mom is less than 24 hours postpartum. I kid you not, like 20 people in the room, laughing, it was like a party time. And this poor mom's like, "How do I get 20 people out of my room? Because I'm not going to open my breasts to breastfeed, but I got to feed the baby. Isn't that what we're supposed to be here for?" And it was a very different concept in that sense of being like, "Let's party," and then a celebration, which is fantastic, but postpartum is like—that is not party time.

I mean, I had a lot of families who were like, "We loved COVID [laughs] because no one could come into the rooms, postpartum." And they were like, "Could we make up a COVID thing in the future? [laughs] I want to have another one in two years. I don't think there'll be a pandemic, but could we make up something? Because I loved not having my boss there while I was trying to breastfeed my baby. I really enjoyed that piece."

Cecile: Yeah, getting a you space, which you're going to need moving forward anyways to nurture that time of yours for you and for your baby. So I think it's time.

Fanny: Yeah. So we're going to just ask you the question to win the giveaway. So the question to write in the comments is what is your best memories for your postpartum period? Because we all said it's hard and blah, blah, blah, but after everything you said and we said, it's a lot of good memory also with this period because you just have your baby at some point born, you have some relationship. And so what is your best memory?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And if you're pregnant, what would be the pregnant equivalent?

Cecile: What would be the one thing you are looking forward to for that period?

Fanny: Exactly.

Cecile: What is the one positive thing that you're like, "Oh, that tickles me"? So we'll give you a few seconds to write your comment in there. We're going to pull the giveaway winner from one of the comments that are going to come up now.

Fanny: We'll contact you at the end and we'll ship the bundle for you to try.

Cecile: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: So why don't you guys answer this for me while we're waiting or we're seeing where our comments are? So in French custom, those first couple days, who comes over? What happens?

Cecile: Well, we're lucky that in the French system, the healthcare is very generous. So there's one thing that makes a lot of a difference is that there is a maternity and a paternity leave. So usually, dad has a significant amount of free time, free from work that is paid. So it's more expected that the first few weeks are for the parents and only the parents and maybe a few of the very, very close relatives. But usually, the help comes in a little later. I would say after maybe two weeks, that's when people feel like they can step in.

So there is a little bit of a buffer period, which I think is very related to the fact that everybody knows that mom and dad will have full time to dedicate to being a parent, so it helps a lot.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: That's really good. Maybe tell us what your best postpartum memories are.

Cecile: Well, mine was—so I traveled with my daughter when she was six weeks old. I went to France with her. I had to, I had a family emergency there, so I had to go. But as I was there, trying—She was jet-lagged, I was jet-lagged. 3:00 in the morning, she was screaming to I don't even know what at this point, I was just like, "I know I need to sleep."

And I remember vividly that as I was in that moment of chaos in my head, not knowing who I was anymore, I looked at her and then for the first time, she locked her eyes with mine. Instead of being like that gazing thing, she had a moment where she actually was like, "Oh, who are you?" [laughs] And that moment gave me the strength to say like, "Wait a minute, there is a moment happening here. Yes, I'm tired, you're tired, I'm wondering what I can do with you, I'm exhausted" But that moment of her just being like, for half a second, catching my attention, put me into the moment, a fraction of a second, I was like, "Oh, you're a human being."

I think that's the first time after six weeks that I realized she was a human being and not a blob that I had to care for. I know it sounds harsh, but really I'm like, "There is a human behind those eyes and this body."

Dr. Varisa Perlman: That's beautiful. That is so nice. What about you, Fanny?

Fanny: So I will relate with Sam that said that just enjoying baby grow and watching them grow. And I will add that with now I'm not in the postpartum period, but when I look back at this period, I think I enjoyed the hug and the time that you can spend just with your baby in your home. And they don't move, they're just here, but you can feel that they need you. They stay and that's the place that they have to be. They just need that.

And now, I think that period, that's what I want to remember because when you do that every day on that specific period, you don't see that. You just see that you're sitting and you are not doing everything that you need to do in the house. So I think for my part, I did not enjoy enough this moment at the time when I was doing it. But now I just enjoy remembering that that was so nice because they just need you, and that's nice.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. Yeah, I think it's so interesting because I had to think about it for a second. It's been a little time. My kids are in college. And listen, I've spoken very frankly about family and just getting overwhelmed with all the people, but the flip side—I had somebody who said something about seeing their family and having their family see their baby as—

As somebody who had very little grandparents or memories of my grandparents, I did not really meet my father's parents and my mother's parents. I did not grow up with grandparents. And to have, when I look back—And again, you remember—pictures can be very helpful. And they were multiple pictures of—We had a house full of both sides of my parents, my in-laws and my parents as well. So Thailand and Brooklyn were in the house. There were a lot of people in the house.

But they would fall asleep or they would be holding the baby or they would be like—and just seeing, knowing that my kid was around them, was in their presence, in that home with them, even though it was chaotic and crazy, but I have pictures of my husband reading a book about Kissinger to our baby as they were falling asleep. And just knowing that as much as there's a lot of chaos, there is a lot of room for these quiet moments. And I think that we do get caught up in a lot of the logistical pieces. That's why I'm like, as much as you can have that cleared away so you can just have a moment of presence, it really is the parts that you will remember.

Cecile: I remember you mentioned in the previous talk that stress tends to inhibit our ability to make memories. And if we look back at all the comments that we got—which are great, by the way, thank you everybody for sharing those precious moments with us—all of these are moments and moments where you're present and it can be a second long, it can be a week long, but nobody remembers how well the house was-

Fanny: Clean. [laughs]

Cecile: -cared for, this shower that you took. Nobody will remember any of that. What you remember is the hug, the eye contact, the spending time with your family, the moment of interaction between two children, stuff like that. So the more you manage to make room for those moments to happen, that's the beauty of what you're doing. And the guilt of building more, I know I was the one mentioning that I wasn't making anything, but I was allowing myself to add those moments to look back on and to build the foundation for that love and trust and bonding that I then grew with my kids.

So don't over rush into things, for anybody who's pregnant and who are getting to that phase. Just be in it. Just be. Every day, just be. And the rest will— [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Cecile, because if you think about your situation, you were in a very hectic—You had a family emergency, you had to throw your six-week-old and you onto a plane to France, so it's not like Ohio.

Fanny: Yes, long flight. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: You had to go over far, a little further, but for you, I think because—Again, you have that engineering background, so when you're home—I always tell my husband, it's hard for me to relax when I'm at home because there's a thousand things to do. With the baby, there's a thousand things to do. But the universe almost had to contain you, literally throw you on a plane with your baby before you were able to connect. In a way, that was really meaningful.

So as much as we don't wish for family emergencies, but in some ways, that was—

Cecile: It breaks your cycle and it bring you back to what's absolutely necessary.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Indeed.

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: So let's go through the comments, and I think we're going to pick our winner.

Fanny: Yep.

Cecile: And drum roll, do I drum roll?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. [laughs]

Cecile: Are you ready? And the winner of today's giveaway is samij26. You're going to get this little bundle here. There you go.

Fanny: Thank you so much.

Cecile: Thank you very much for participating. We'll contact you after this to get your information.

Fanny: Thank you for commenting.

Cecile: And yeah, so it was our first giveaway in one of those talks because we wanted to get you involved into what we're doing. We'll continue talking about postpartum because as we said, there is good in that phase. And we're glad that in the comments, we can see that, which is hard to see when you're in it. So make sure that—Yeah, congratulations to the winner. So yeah, make sure that you enjoy it. And enjoy, even if the laundry is not done, even if your—Every second counts in making. And there is bonding that—I learned that recently, that there is hormone that flow from your body to your baby until two years old, if I'm not mistaken, right, Dr. Perlman?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right.

Cecile: So just having your baby on you is already working. So don't feel bad about just laying there and just having them on you and half napping or just snoozing a little bit because this is beneficial to both you and them. And that's the reason why the laundry is not done because the laundry is not going to bring as much as just holding your child on you if you feel like doing it.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. And I do think, I always say, and I'm going to fit it in every single talk, that they're born the way they are to heal the family. And in many ways, our world is so rushed and so task-oriented. And like you said, you get feelings like, "What did I actually do today? What did I actually do?" And it's that kind of thing where the baby just force it down to the basics. You're not going to feel like you did anything because in many ways, it's not about the list. It's really about the moments. It's really about being able to just have the energy to connect with your baby. That's really your number one goal.

But the truth is, is that you cannot connect if you are sleep-deprived. You cannot connect if you are emotionally unfed. You can't connect if you're physically unfed. It's an unrealistic expectation. So enough of that. Enough of that feeling.

As you know, we've been doing the doula outreach, And so I'm very excited to actually learn elements of being a postpartum doula. Both of you have so much training. What are things that you feel like in your training that they really emphasize for you to bring when you come to see the parents?

Cecile: Well, one of the important things in the postpartum doula world is that—I don't know for anybody who's listening, if they're familiar with what a postpartum doula do, but she's an advocate and a help, a support person for the mother. So a lot of people think that the postpartum doula is here to be a babysitter. That's not the case. Postpartum doula is here to support you-

Fanny: The mom.

Cecile: -so that you have more time with your baby. So that, that person, if you don't have somebody in your friend circle, in your family, who can be a person who's just going to make sure that you can do those primal things of sleeping, eating, and take care of yourself, the bare minimum, so you can relieve some of the stress and pressure to not be up to par, a postpartum doula would do that for you. So whether it's cooking the meals, doing your groceries.

Fanny: Errands, laundry. Or either just sit with you and listen if you want to speak about the birth, about your emotions, about your feelings, just to be there and validate that could be a hard moment or could be happy moment, just celebrate or just be like a shoulder that you can lay on. And that's very mom-oriented. It's not about the baby. Of course, the postpartum doula will help with the baby, but it's only to elevate the mom.

Cecile: And it can be silly things, like if you're scared to go on your first walk with your child, because you're like, "Oh, it's too many things," you can have your postpartum doula come on that first walk. And she might not do anything, but the fact that you have someone there in case—I don't know, if you feel like you're walking too—because I mean, when you just had a baby, everything seems to be like, "Am I doing this right? Am I walking right? Am I in the right positioning of the stroller? They have so many different, like 25 different positions. Which one do I pick?" [laughs]

Fanny: How do I open the stroller? [laughs]

Cecile: Too many options. Is it face forward? How do I put that? So just having somebody who can be there and be like-

Fanny: Relate, yes.

Cecile: -"Okay, we're going to go through that." And that also usually calms the mom a lot, which means there is not much work per se that's being done as a postpartum doula, but the mere fact of being here is giving the mom the comfort to explore things and be there.

Fanny: Be in the moment.

Cecile: Exactly.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: It's interesting because, again, it's been in front of me. I've met some postpartum doulas as a pediatrician because they would come to the visits when I would see them. It's interesting that you feel like you have to defend that the postpartum doula, again, is not the babysitter. It's really a guide for the mother. And even myself, and part of the reason I think that I've worked towards—I would love to work as a postpartum doula as part of my space, even though I'm trained as a pediatrician because if my goal is to help the baby, you have to take care of the mom. It just doesn't work.

And I think that that's just been the evolution of my own journey in terms of trying to heal people or be a part of their healing journey. I would see so many mothers at three days, I mean, it's not even a week yet, and it was just this absolute feeling of just lost, like they were lost. They didn't know where they were. They didn't know where to start.

And so I looked at this baby who was breathing, pink, gorgeous, adorable, and then I look at this mom, and they just looked like crap. [laughs] She looked like crap. I mean, even if there's a lot of people there, I could tell that there was no care swimming towards her. And she was either giving it all to the baby or she was giving it elsewhere, who knows?

I was telling you part of my—I'm so excited for this postpartum doula training is because I feel like a lot of it will resonate with me because if you really want to take care of this baby, you have to open up the doors because if this mom's completely gone, what care are you imagining is going to happen for this baby?

Cecile: And on that same note, when you do your registry, if you're pregnant, the best thing about everything we do, it's true for our product for diaper rash, it's true for everything in life, prevention is the best way to go through that. It's not when you're postpartum that you're going to think about what is the best approach. Your brain might not have the bandwidth to do it, which is completely normal. Right now, in your registry, try to put items toward what we just said about the eat, sleep, and remove stress.

We talked about it in a previous talk. I would encourage you to read about that. But food delivery services, postpartum doula services.

Fanny: Cleaning service for your home.

Cecile: Cleaning services. If you can't afford a postpartum doula, put that on your registry, have people put like by hours, it's usually taught by the hour, and have somebody who is a professional. You're paying them, so they will do whatever you want them to do. They're not a family member that's going to judge what you're doing. If you want somebody to run up and down your stairs to bring your stuff, that's what they're going to do.

So use that because you don't need the gimmicks, you don't need the gadget. Nobody in their memory put, "I remember that toy that I gave my kid." No, nobody remember any of that stuff. You will remember the fact that you're not in one room doing laundry while your baby is sitting in that fancy little carrier thing that move by itself. Okay, so maybe that's a time to look through your registry again and see what's putting something toward that eat, sleep, and stress factor that you're trying to tackle for that postpartum time that everybody goes through.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah.

Fanny: The registry should be called mommy and baby registry [laughs] because, yeah, baby would need things, but mommy needs a lot more. [laughs]

Cecile: [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: A lot more.

Fanny: So we should rename that. It's totally wrong.

Cecile: Put your favorite dishes in there, so when people are like, "What can I come and bring you?" Don't bring me something I don't like. Bring me the lasagna. Bring me my favorite salad. Bring me item #23 on the menu of that specific restaurant because that's the one I'm going to want, not to go around to something else. So that's the time to be very specific and assertive because your brain is there, you know what you like, and probably you're going to want to go back to that comfort known things after you have birth. So leave that there.

And if people ask you, "What do you want me to bring?" "Check my registry. I don't want to talk. You look there. I can't remember what I put in there, but back then it was making sense." So just send them the link.

Fanny: That's a lot, yeah. It's a lot.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I love that. I love the idea of buying someone services because even if you buy clothing for them—I don't know how you guys were, but my kid was in a onesie for months. Even as a pediatrician, I would see a three-week-old coming in a full dress, a dress. And I was like—I remember, and my kids were always born in the summer, but I remember trying to put overalls on a four-week-old, and then I would always get all the buttons wrong. And I was like, "This is ridiculous. I'm not dressing my baby. Here's a onesie. Enjoy." I don't need a big dress.

I think services is fantastic because—

Fanny: It is fantastic, yes.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: The food and the services, I think it's just a big game-changer. And again, it's not family, so you're not going to feel as weird.

Fanny: Exactly. You can start to build your village that will be helpful at least.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And a professional doula is also very helpful at teaching you how to articulate your needs as well.

Cecile: Exactly. And to care for your baby because they have that training too and then to put you in touch with other professionals if you do feel like you need additional help with mental health, physical health, any kind of physical therapy specifically because you just had a baby. They have a network of people around them that can help you with that too.

So she would be a very strong component of your village and she can help you grow in that new world because people who are part of your village as a single person, as a married person, they might not be the best equipped to help you in your motherhood village. And so it's important to get people who have the knowledge and the mentality to be lifting you up.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Absolutely.

Cecile: So on that note, thank you everybody for joining. Thank you for participating in our giveaway today. Congratulations to our giveaway winner again.

Fanny: Sami.

Cecile: Good job. Thank you.

Fanny: Good job. Thank you.

Cecile: And we'll see you in two weeks for Episode #16 of our Moms Talk With a French Accent. Thank you, Dr. Perlman, for joining us today.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Thank you.

Cecile: Thank you all for watching, and we'll talk soon. Au revoir.

Fanny: Bye.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Bye.


Watch other episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1dpfz3OiZoOwHuST-GmH9sTD0TfF3rIp

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