Birth Happens
Birth Happens
Episode 05: "Mommy Brain" The Neurobiology of Maternity
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TRANSCRIPT

So you may not know this about me, but I’m a brain nerd. When I was young, high on the list of what I want to be when I grow up was neurosurgeon. I ended up working in a neurologist’s office when I was in high school. But instead of inspiring me to continue this path, working with her actually made me drop the idea of becoming a doctor entirely.

But that’s a story for another day. A few years ago, I entered into a year long master’s level certificate program for IPNB, Interpersonal Neurobiology, and it was then that I realized, oh, I never wanted to be a neurosurgeon, I just wanted to study the brain body connection and how it all works together.

Y’all, if I could go back a few decades, I would put in all the time, money, and effort to become a neurobiologist with a specific focus on the brain body connection that happens during pregnancy, labor, and birth and parenting. I find it endlessly fascinating. In keeping with season one’s theme of intimacy, today’s episode has to do with the very intimate connection that’s created between a pregnant person and their baby.

The mind body connection that begins even before you get pregnant and continues for a lifetime.

Welcome. My name is Barb Buckner Suarez. For over two decades, I’ve worked as a childbirth educator and a couples coach, helping thousands of families say yes to parenting. I’ve got some thoughts about how life changes when we choose to become parents. Those thoughts may be irreverent, funny, or counter cultural at times, but I promise you, they will always be real.

Whether you’re curious about starting a family, in the middle of your fourth pregnancy, or your birthing days are long over, raising the next generation is hard. And all of us could use a little more support. I want this to be a place where you can find that support. Because let’s face it, birth happens.

Everything changes when you have a baby. Um, thank you? I’m not sure how helpful this statement is in describing what happens when you decide to become a parent. At worst, It makes those who are expecting their first freak out, that who they are now, will be lost forever. At best, it only scratches the surface of what’s really going on inside your brain, body, heart, and spirit, when you accept the responsibility of raising a whole new human being to adulthood.

And beyond y’all, because it never really ends. There are changes. That’s for sure. Some of these changes are obvious to you and everyone else. Let’s face facts. It’s nearly impossible to hide the growing watermelon under your shirt forever. But there are many other changes that happen on hormonal and cellular levels that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Some of the brain changes that occur require a Ph. D. and some fancy and expensive machinery to record and study. But these changes can and do create connection. An unshakable bond between parents and their children that has the potential to be deepened and strengthened over a lifetime.

Honoring these changes is the first step.

Did you know that you literally carry your baby inside of you all day long, everywhere you go for decades, potentially throughout your entire life?

Microchimerism is the term used to describe the phenomenon of discovering fetal cells circulating throughout their biological parents tissues, muscles, and organs long after babies have exited the womb. Studies have shown that fetal cells cross the placenta and enter the mother’s body through the bloodstream during pregnancy, where they then take up residence.

What they’re doing there, and why, is still being studied. But there are some pretty cool considerations so far. Because fetal cells act like stem cells, they can become any other type of cell and might be useful in repairing tissue or muscle damage. Fetal cells discovered in the brain can turn into neurons, and this might aid in neuroplasticity and long term brain health.

And in some mouse studies, they’ve even discovered that if the maternal heart has been damaged, fetal cells will show up on the scene and help mend that broken heart. Maybe this is meant to be a little bit of payback from the baby for the sacrifice that’s been made in bringing them into the world in the first place?

It’s important to note that the changes that happen to pregnant folks go far beyond what is obvious to the outside observer. There are incredible hormonal changes that are happening that literally change the brain and create a unique bond between mother and baby laid down potentially Even before pregnancy starts.

Mapping the maternal brain from pre pregnancy through postpartum would be a dream side gig for me if given the opportunity. But luckily, there are folks in the world who devote their entire life to this stuff. So all I need to do is just read the studies and then share what I find out about all the cool stuff that happens to our brains during these experiences.

You don’t need to be a neurobiologist to know that the behavioral changes that happen to folks during pregnancy and beyond are real, but we’re just beginning to link those behavioral changes with what’s happening in the prefrontal cortex, midbrain, parietal lobes, and elsewhere. This might feel a little gendered, but studies have shown that women’s brains have evolved over time to have a quote brain hormone behavior constellation.

A woman’s brain is primed for mothering. In a way that just doesn’t exist for men, there’s a blueprint that exists in their brain even before a woman has gotten pregnant. Maybe this is what they refer to when they’re talking about mother’s instinct. Mommy brain is a term that gets tossed about as a catch all phrase to describe why a pregnant or newly postpartum parent is so forgetful.

I take issue with the negative connotation that goes along with this term. Here’s what’s really happening. Your brain is pruning itself of stuff that just doesn’t matter. So you can concentrate on the things that really do matter. You don’t need to remember the names of the cast members from the latest Marvel movie, but you do need to focus on the immediate needs of your baby, so, you know, they can continue to live.

The parts of your brain that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction are activated during pregnancy, labor and birth, and new parenting. The flood of hormones, specifically oxytocin, result in those overwhelming feelings of love, protectiveness, and worry reactions to your baby that start during pregnancy and just keep on keeping on once your baby’s been born.

Many researchers have concentrated their focus to the specific brain area known as the amygdala. The amygdala are two almond shaped sets of neurons that are linked to memory processing and emotional reactions, including fight, flight, freeze. Activity in the amygdala increases in the days and months following birth, causing hypersensitivity to a baby’s needs.

We are literally hardwired to be more sensitive to our baby’s cries, so that we’ll respond when they need something. But it’s a good thing our babies are so damn cute. That positive feedback loop in the brain enhances the circuitry. When a new parent gazes at their newborn, the reward centers in the brain light up, and this continues to motivate those maternal behaviors.

This amygdala involvement is linked specifically to your baby. Studies have shown that mothers respond more positively to seeing pictures of their own baby over pictures of other babies. When this happens, it can act as a personal buffer against maternal anxiety and depression. Oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone, is the main culprit when it comes to this enhanced or heightened activity in the amygdala.

Oxytocin surges at the hormonal and brain level during pregnancy, Postpartum, and as mothers engage in caretaking of their newborn. Breastfeeding is also linked to higher levels of oxytocin, but even just sitting and looking at your newborn will cause oxytocin levels to increase. As it turns out, all this flooding oxytocin into the maternal brain and bloodstream means that becoming a parent, at least on brain scans, looks an awful lot like falling in love.

They’ve done studies that show the brain activity in being a new parent looks very similar to the brain activity of people reporting. In love feelings when in a romantic relationship, it’s important to discuss the brain changes that happen to a maternal brain during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, and the role that oxytocin plays in driving positive nurturing behavior in the birthing person.

But we should also talk about the brain changes that can occur for partners, partners, and in the studies I’ve seen. Male partners don’t seem to share that brain hormone behavior constellation of their female counterparts. However, evolution has seen to this difference by creating other pathways to adaptation to their paternal role.

Similar brain changes can be seen in fathers who are in attunement with their babies, have space and time to practice their new role and take an active role in the day to day caregiving of their newborns. Remember, skin to skin between partners and their newborn babies have shown significant brain architecture changes.

One hour of uninterrupted skin to skin contact between a partner parent and their newborn in the first 24 hours of their baby’s life can create an incredibly strong bond between the two of them. The takeaway here is that simply caring for your baby creates positive new neural pathways for all parents.

And this is something to celebrate because pregnancy, birth, and parenting change you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These experiences are fully human events and the mind body connection that’s just now being discovered within families. Has the potential to unlock a connection that can last a lifetime.

One morning as I got out of the shower and leaned over to wrap my long, curly hair into a towel, I couldn’t help but notice the stretch marks on my belly. These were the same stretch marks I was convinced I didn’t have when I was pregnant with my first daughter a bazillion years ago. I’ve been on the lookout for them throughout my pregnancy, but to my utter amazement, I didn’t have any, or so I thought.

This illusion was broken when I was about 8 months pregnant and marveling at my changing body in front of the mirror again, only this time, my husband was in the room with me. Me. I can’t believe I don’t have any stretch marks. I mean, my belly is huge. I would have expected there to be a ton of them, but nope, not one.

Him. Um, I think you have some down here, pointing low on each side of my belly. Whoa, there’s a ton of them. You just can’t see them. And scene. He was right, of course. My belly had gotten so big that it had begun to cast a shadow and all my stretch marks were hiding on the dark side of the moon. After my initial shock, which really wasn’t warranted, y’all, there was no way that my belly could have gotten as big as it did without stretching enough to leave a mark.

I never gave my stretch marks a second thought. After all, they’re not that big. They’ve faded over time and aren’t that noticeable, and besides, I don’t regret them because they marked me as a mother. I’d practically forgotten they were even there, to be honest, but as I stood bent over, eyed a stretch mark, I couldn’t miss them.

And suddenly I had this thought about how a different type of stretch mark had happened to me. It’s one that no one else can see, but it marks me as a mother just the same. Several years ago, my oldest daughter, the OG stretch mark maker herself, traveled halfway across the world to perform with her dance company in the South of France, ooh la la, for ten whole days, and it was my heart that was being stretched.

And it left its mark for sure. I didn’t have the typical angst that you might think would go along with kissing your baby goodbye as she headed to a time zone nine hours ahead. After all, I knew her to be a mature, strong, smart young woman, and she’d come home with amazing stories to tell and memories to last her a lifetime.

It’s just that this trip signified something more for me. My girl was almost grown and out of the house. Y’all, my first little bird was getting ready to fly away. Now, what feelings did this bring up for me? Not sadness. Just deep abiding joy and pride at who my girl had become. And this, how amazing to think she still has so much life left to live.

So many more memories to make and stories to tell. So many chapters yet to be written. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for my parents, as they watched all their little birds fly away. Some not too far, but me? Two plane rides and a three hour time zone away. When teaching to a room full of parents expecting their first babies, I can see the stretch marks of these parents as they wrap their minds around all that’s involved in the birth process, or what it really means to become a parent.

But how can I express to them what is still yet to come? So much more stretching. They will be marked and marked again on their parenting journey. The day they drop their baby off at preschool. The late night worry they’ll feel when their baby is sick. The piercing cry of their toddler after a spectacular wipeout.

The good ache that comes from a heart full of pride as they watch their child do something amazing. The bad ache that comes from a heart breaking with theirs as they feel the sting of rejection. The recognition that, if you’ve done this parenting thing right, eventually, They leave. Your little birds fly away.

I love my stretch marks. Every last one of them. Maybe those not visible to the naked eye most of all. For they’re a reminder that I’ve birthed my babies not just from my body, but out and into this great big world. This is a reminder that mayors why I’m still so passionate about the work I do with parents who may have not yet discovered any physical stretch marks.

The parenting journey begins when a family says yes to welcoming a child into their hearts. And from that point on, the journey never ends. It doesn’t break you, but it will definitely stretch you right up to that point sometimes. Do you have stretch marks? Are they purely physical? Or can you relate to having some emotional stretch marks?

My baby lays still on my chest, warm and wet from being born just moments before. I called my parents to announce that they were grandparents, again. At the time, this was their tenth, but only my first. Still high on the other side of giving birth, I looked at her impossibly tiny fingernails and dialed. My dad picked up on the first ring, shouting with joy.

Mom got on next, and the minute I heard her voice, I burst into tears. I am so sorry. Concerned, she asked, For what, honey? For all the times that I said I’d be home by midnight and didn’t come home until two. For all the times you must have worried. For, for everything. She chuckled, it’s okay. It’s okay. Which only made me sob harder.

How is it that the word mother remains unknown, unknowable, until you are a mother yourself? Just as my mothering journey was beginning, the veil that obscured motherhood had been pulled away. Suddenly, and with great clarity, I realized that all those times I’d been convinced that my mom was ruining my life.

They were just her attempts to save me from harm. I couldn’t make sense of this at the time, because the center of my universe was me. Now holding this completely dependent, tiny little person, I realized the enormity of it all. I had just irrevocably committed myself to doing everything possible to raise this child into adulthood with an intact and healthy spirit.

What in the hell was I thinking? I couldn’t believe that my mom had made this commitment six times. All without a mother of her own to call and apologize to. Where does this determination come from? To love so fiercely, that your heart catches in your throat at the thought of your baby ever getting hurt.

I don’t know the answer to these questions. But my mom was willing to show up and answer them, and I’m forever grateful that I get to try and show up and answer them for myself, however imperfectly.

Sometimes it’s hard to trust that you’re good enough to be someone’s parent. It’s such a big job, it’s such an important job, and it’s a job that is all too often undervalued in a society where our worth is judged by how much money we make and how much stuff we own. With parenting, there is very little monetary gain.

You pretty much lose money on this deal from the moment your baby is conceived, and it doesn’t take long to realize that you don’t own this little person. Your job is to work really hard, so that when they grow up, they’ll leave you someday. It’s hard to trust you’re doing such big and important work when, at least initially, It doesn’t feel like you’re very good at it.

Those early days are filled with so much anxiety because you have to figure out how to feed your baby. You have the equipment, and they have the instinct. So why is it so hard to put those two things together? It’s hard to trust that you won’t drop your baby when you’re trying to give them a bath.

They’re so damn slippery when they’re wet. It’s hard to trust that you know how many layers they should be wearing at any given time. Are they too cold? Are they too hot? And what about cutting their teensy little fingernails for the first time? They don’t even make a nail cutter that’s small enough for you to feel like you can trust that you won’t cut one of their fingers off in the process.

So much of parenting is being able to trust that if you can’t figure things out on your own, That you’ll be able to find the right people to help you figure it all out. The people you choose to trust during this time are so important. I sometimes imagine that circle of support and trust like a bike wheel, with you and your partner positioned in the center, and your trusted family and friends as the spokes that extend all the way out.

These people help you adjust your expectations to match your reality. They’re encouraging, but tell you the truth. They never offer advice unless you ask for it first. You can be real with them. You can share your good, your bad, and your ugly parenting. You trust that they have your back as new parents, no matter what.

As you begin to trust in that circle of support, you might find it easier to begin to trust each other, and then finally, yourself. Make sure to tell each other, and often, that there is value in this work. Encourage and support each other in your new role as parents. Trust me, parenting is the most important work You will ever do

this Twitter thread from Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Caught my eye. One time I was at a Q and a with Nora Roberts and someone asked her how to balance writing and kids. And she said that the key to juggling is to know that some of the balls that you have in the air are made of plastic and some are made of glass.

And if you drop a plastic ball, it bounces no harm done. If you drop a glass ball, it shatters. So you have to know which balls are glass and which are plastic and prioritize catching the glass ones. Yeah. The balls don’t represent family or work. There are separate balls that go into each of those categories, deadline on project Y or crazy sock day at school.

And her point addressing a room full of women was not prioritize kids over work. It was some kids stuff is glass and some is plastic. And sometimes to catch a glass work ball, you have to drop a plastic family one. And that is okay. I really love this. I love it a lot. Parents are always being asked to juggle, and I would say that on most days, they are juggling way more balls than anyone could handle.

Sharing that it’s actually okay to drop a few balls now and again, or daily, might provide new parents with a huge sense of relief, or maybe not. Recently, I was talking about this with a group of expectant families, and the sense I got from the mamas on the call was that they considered every ball they were currently juggling to be made of glass.

And it dawned on me that being told that some of the balls were plastic and others are glass is not necessarily what new parents need to hear. What they need is someone to tell them which balls are glass. Versus plastic when they’re being asked to juggle something that they may or may not come to naturally.

I might add they have a hard time Prioritizing the demands of parenting and working and being in relationship with their partner’s family and friends Which of these balls should be caught first? Which of these balls can be dropped without serious consequence? All of these balls get thrown up in the air often at the same time and they need to decide I’m gonna let this one drop.

I think it’s gonna be okay. But what happens if they’re wrong? They thought the particular ball they let go of was plastic and would bounce and maybe no one would even notice that it had fallen to the ground. But instead that ball turned out to be glass and shattered into a million little pieces and now they’re worried about stepping on the broken shards of glass that have fallen at their feet.

Juggling is a learned skill. Everything that I’ve read about it says that with enough training and practice Most people can learn how to juggle three balls at a time. I’ve also read that dropping those balls often should be expected and that this is how you get better at juggling. Families don’t always realize that they’ve been thrust into parenthood with zero training.

And no time to practice. It’s as if directly following the birth of your baby, you find yourself on stage under bright lights and your headlighting as the jubilant juggler. You’ve been thrown a bunch of balls or maybe in your experience, it felt like you were thrown a bunch of bowling pins or knives or bowling pins and knives.

on fire, and the expectation was that you’d be a pro. But here’s what you’re really juggling. Adapting to your new role as a parent. Prioritizing your physical and emotional recovery. Bonding with your newborn. Functioning as a human being despite massive sleep deprivation. Learning how to feed and care for your little one.

Realizing that you’re responsible for another human being’s life. Getting your own needs met. And keeping your partner relationship alive as well. This isn’t even an exhaustive list. This is just the beginning. All of these balls seem really important. All of these balls seem like they’re not only made of glass, but the most fragile glass imaginable.

Glass balls that could shatter if you just look at them the wrong way, let alone drop them. What are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to juggle all of these balls as a new parent? Maybe the answer is, you can’t. At least not on your own. So who can you go to for some training tips? Identifying those who’ve come before you that you think have a handle on this whole parenting thing might be a good place to start.

I’d be wary of spending too much time on the internet looking for the world’s greatest professional expert blah blah blah and instead turn to those you already know. Those who figured out how to juggle by learning what works for them. Usually these are people who would never consider themselves, much less call themselves experts.

But they might have a few ideas that you haven’t thought of yet that could make your learning curve less steep. And maybe right after becoming a parent, you treat each and every ball like it’s made of glass, just for a little while. Don’t even try throwing any of them up into the air just yet. Rather, place them gently next to one another on a soft and supportive pillow.

Take each of these glass balls out one at a time and get a feel for them. Knowing the weight, size, and fragility. may change day to day. Over time, the fragile glass of these balls you’re being asked to juggle also changes. They’re not quite plastic, but maybe plexiglass? Start by throwing just one of them up in the air at a time.

Feel what it’s like to not know exactly where it’s gonna go, or even if you’ll be able to catch it. And if the ball drops and doesn’t shatter, what would that mean? Are you ready to add another ball? If one or both fall to the ground, how would it feel to just pick them back up and try again? Eventually, you might feel like you’ve got this three ball juggling thing down.

You’re able to throw more than a couple of things up in the air, and you might even look good doing it. Resist the temptation to go big. Resist the desire to keep on adding more and more balls into the air. Resist the pressure to become a juggling pro. Remember, very, very few people can do this successfully.

And the pros have to spend all of their time and focus on training and practicing juggling to the exclusion of everything else, not a very healthy or balanced lifestyle. When you’re the one who’s juggling, you’ll need to determine how many balls you can have in the air at one time and for how long, but you might also need to recruit your partner or other supportive friend or family member to help you determine which balls you’re juggling are made of glass, plexiglass.

Or straight up plastic. Because as new parents, we tend to think they’re all glass. When you feel like you’ve got to drop one of the balls you’re juggling, but don’t know which one? Ask your partner or support person to help you out. They can grab one of the glass balls before it hits the ground, or grab a pillow for the plexiglass balls to land on so that they don’t crack beyond repair, or encourage you to laugh about the plastic ones as they roll away.

You can always pick them up later and try again. Nora Roberts makes a solid point about all the balls that we’re asked to juggle in our day to day lives, and I for one, was thrilled to reconsider all the balls that I have up in the air as either glass, plexiglass my addition, or plastic. It’s helpful in alleviating any guilt feelings that parents have as they realize something important.

Everyone is juggling. All the time, knowing that you’re not the only one, that not every ball is made of glass, that there are trainers and support people who can help you determine the fragility of each ball, and that it’s perfectly okay to drop a plastic ones can be helpful. But knowing that it’s you who determines how many balls you want to throw up in the air and for how long can be life changing.

Being a professional juggler is pretty cool, but remember it’s not for everyone.

When did it sink in for you? The foreverness of it all. I remember holding my newborn and clearly feeling that before she was born, I’d never really known what love was about. Because this love was all encompassing. And it felt like it was pouring out of my mind, body, heart, and spirit. It was shocking, really, to feel like the love I’d had for my own parents, my siblings, even my husband.

Paled in comparison to the love I felt as this baby’s mother. Whoa. A few years later, when we were getting ready to welcome our second into the world, my husband expressed concern about whether he’d be able to love our new little guy as much as he loved our first. But as the fourth of six kiddos who never felt slighted in the love department, I wasn’t too worried.

Which is a good thing. Because we ended up adding another two before we were all done. And for the record, Roberto has loved each one of them just as much as our first. But the addition of other babies does make for a cruel type of math. Your concern about raising another human being from infancy to adulthood doesn’t just double.

It feels like a crazy ass word problem. If having one child feels like your heart has been stretched by the power of X, how much more stretching can occur with each subsequent child before your heart breaks into a million little pieces? Solve for X. Wait, what? Ah, but my friends, it’s a trick question.

Your heart doesn’t ever break completely. It just continues to stretch and grow like the one that bursts out of its too small cage from the Grinch movie. But there will likely be some days that the math just doesn’t add up. Maybe your baby will experience something that breaks both of your hearts, at least for a little while.

Maybe one of your babies will need some additional love and attention and this will cause you to subtract some love and attention from your other babies or even your partner for a bit. All this Just so you can try to solve for the factor of X that was created in the connection you share Even before you became pregnant with those who give you the title of parent.

Our brains are hardwired for connection Y’all. Babies come into the world knowing one thing. They must have at least one adult caregiver connected to them to survive They’re comforted by our heartbeats, our voices, our smells. They know immediately and instinctively That we are their people. And when we engage wholeheartedly in the day to day caregiving, in trying to meet the needs of their bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits, that sense of connection gets multiplied over time.

Math has never been my strong point. Beyond the basics. I struggle. The kids all know to go to dad for homework help in this area. But what I do get is the math of parenthood. If we continue to show up for this work with a pencil, never a pen, we can erase the mistakes that we’re bound to make along the way.

If we continue to learn the lessons that life and our littles are here to teach us, and we’re humble enough to ask for tutoring when necessary, Y’all, we might just have what it takes to pass the test.

As a lead in to episode six, or should I call it episode sex, hint hint, I’d like for you to break down the difference between the amount of space in the maternal brain devoted to the physical and emotional well being of your baby, Versus the idea of the mental load. The mental load, also called cognitive labor, refers to the invisible, non tangible tasks involved in running a household.

The imbalance within the mental load can become more obvious once a couple becomes a family. Studies continue to show that the weight of the mental load is felt more by the primary caregiver, the one who gave birth to the baby, than their partner, even when both parents work full time outside of the home.

This heaviness can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, and scorekeeping, and is a major contributing factor in relationship breakdown. I think that’s reason enough to call attention to the difference between taking care of our baby, And taking care of everything else.

Carve out a bit of time for you and your partner to work on this together. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen for each of you. Fold your piece of paper in half and on one side, write the word, Baby. And on the other side, write the words, Everything else. Set a timer for five minutes and each of you, without discussion, write down any concerns you might have that go under each category.

Baby, or everything else. If you’re not done in five minutes, that’s okay. Keep writing. The idea is to try and capture all the concerns you’ve had about becoming a family, maybe even before getting pregnant. Once you feel like your list is complete, share it with your partner. You may be surprised by what has made the list of concerns for one another, and that shared perspective can be huge in terms of preparing for or adjusting to your reality of parenting.

We can’t really support one another unless we know what’s going on. Communication is key. I’m going to suggest that there be zero pathologizing of your mommy brain if the list that you have under baby is miles longer than your partner’s. After all, evolution has given us the gift of an enhanced amygdala.

And this means hypersensitivity to the physical and emotional needs of our babies. This isn’t a bad thing, y’all. This focused attention outside of ourselves is a result of hormonal and structural changes that occur within our brains. But that means we need to let go of things that are less important.

What’s less important? Pretty much everything else, at least for the initial time being. The discussion that follows is extremely important. Who’s going to take care? of everything else. Even if you’ve always considered yourself to be super organized and on top of things, y’all need to let that go or figure out a different way to get shit done.

On a neurobiological level, there’s just not enough space in your brain to be able to care for your newborn and do everything else. And spoiler! This doesn’t ever really go away. Remember that blueprint as your baby grows, your concerns will grow right along to match up with whatever age and stage they happen to be in.

So partners, if you’re really wanting to be as supportive as possible and take an active role in the day to day caregiving, What, on their list of everything else, can you put on yours? Can you create a shared calendar so that pediatric appointments are the responsibility of both parents? Is there a way to lessen the day to day grind of what’s involved in taking care of the house?

Physical and emotional recovery from pregnancy and birth and learning how to feed your newborn are three full time jobs at the beginning. and should be the top priority, not keeping the household running. So who can you tap for support if adding these things to your list feels like too much?

When the birthing parent’s brain is given the respect it so greatly deserves, and the space to focus on exactly what their neurobiology is wired for, feelings of overwhelm about taking care of everything else lessens. This matters more than you know. Feelings of anger, resentment, and scorekeeping are way too common in the postpartum experience.

But I think it’s a result of a few things. Many birthing folks are used to being able to manage all the different aspects of their lives and get completely slammed by their inability to do so as new parents. They want to be able to juggle like they used to, but have a hard time figuring out which balls are going to break if they get dropped.

And when partners jump in. and help them prioritize the physical and emotional well being of the birthing parent baby Dyad. They can embrace what really matters and know that everything else either doesn’t or will get taken care of by somebody else who has the brain space to handle it. Two things that for sure will lead to a better and more connected couple relationship.

Y’all you might get tired of hearing it, but it’s true. Connection is everything, and I believe it begins with birth. Knowing how that connection is literally imprinted upon our brains can help us work with our neurobiology instead of continuing to fight it. If this episode turned you into a brain nerd like me, will you hit that subscribe button?

And then share this episode with someone you think might also geek out to. Personal referrals. Are so welcomed. Episode six, I mean, six is the last and season one of birth happens where the focus is on physical intimacy and the couple relationship. I’m not gonna give anything away y’all, but I’ll tell you something that you’re not gonna hear from anyone else.

Sex post babies has the potential to be the best sex of your lives. Come on back and I’ll share how and why on the next episode of Birth Happens.

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