Healing after Birth
Bringing a life into this world is one of the most special and transforming things we can experience. During pregnancy and delivery, the health of both mother and baby are carefully observed. However, in most countries women are expected to be back on their feet shortly after the birth, despite the fact that the first few weeks are very important.
Nicole Wijnhoven is a postpartum practitioner and joined one of her best friends Layla Cremer who created Happymamahappybaby, a company that focuses on postpartum care. Having experienced a treatment from Nicole myself and resonating with her ideas on the importance of postpartum care I wanted to sit down and discuss her mission to empower women in becoming a mother and spread awareness about the importance of the fourth trimester.
From the moment of conception, the process of becoming a mom has started. A woman may feel an immediate connection, sometimes already dreaming about her child or sensing the gender before they are born. During the pregnancy we recognize three trimesters, but to complete a pregnancy in a healthy and solid way we have to include a ‘fourth trimester’.
A ‘fourth trimester’ is the 40-day period after delivery which is equally as important and should be considered as part of the pregnancy process. It’s our mission to make women more conscious of the importance in this period after pregnancy. We believe a woman needs to nurture and heal not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally. This time sets the tone for her life as a mom, and not having rested and healed enough can affect the women’s health later in life.
We aim to support women during this phase. Traditionally, our society makes it difficult to rest completely and truly take a break from the outside world. We utilize ancient techniques to help in the process of healing on all levels, which helps us assist mothers in this intense period. I always say, “When a child is born, a mama is born”. Whether it is your first, second or third child, every pregnancy is a transformative experience.
The moments after a child is born are special. Different cultures have unique rituals around the moment after delivery. For example, when a baby is born in Arabic culture the father is the first to whisper A’dem (the name of Allah) into the baby’s ear. In our western society, we focus on the physical part of pregnancy – the nine months a new human is grown in the body of the mother, but there is much more to it.
After the intense experience of delivery, a woman needs rest and healthy meals to physically heal and to be able to nurture the child, but on an energetic level she needs rest too. I believe during pregnancy and birth we, as women, are the portal between two worlds - the material and the spiritual. Through you, a new child is born. A new soul. At this moment, you are in your most pure and vulnerable form, connected to this source of unconditional love. The whole process divides your emotional and spiritual body and only time and rest can bring it back together. On an energetic level, a lot changes to, for example in family patterns: you create a new family and that changes the dynamic of your relationship with your own parents, brothers and sisters. All these feelings and emotions combined with recalibrating hormones combine into what we call the ‘baby blues’ – your body’s physical and emotional reaction to bringing a new life into this world. Slowly you come back to yourself, but transformed in the mom you are now.
To support women in their healing process, many ancient cultures developed different treatments and rituals. For example, the Bengkung Belly Binding is used in a lot of Eastern cultures. It supports the muscles and back after pregnancy, but also provides emotional support after birth when a women’s womb can feel empty. Yoni steams are also used in many cultures, like in my homeland of Surinam. The steam contains herbs that help heal faster and dissolve stitch thread. The Thai herbal stamp massage goes back as far as 5000 years. It was developed to reduce pain and inflammation of the muscles and joints. Each herbal stamp contains a selection of therapeutic plants. The herbs are wrapped in a compress and then steamed. Aside from reducing stress, tiredness and promoting deep relaxation, the treatment also increases lymph flow to help detox the body after birth from hormones and any medicines that’ve been used. Receiving the treatments is really an experience on its own.
My personal story
I became a postpartum practitioner after I gave birth to my own son. My friend and now business partner, Layla, supported me during delivery and gave me postpartum treatments afterwards. It was at that point that I was convinced I wanted share this beautiful empowering experience with other women as well. I believe we as women are powerful, and can give so much to each other. I hope that more and more women will support each other and we fully embrace the idea of sisterhood.
Before I was a practitioner, I worked and traveled as a flight attendant for many years. I remember I always used to be fascinated with the birth process and what happened afterwards. I was both amazed and shocked by how this process unfolds in different parts of the world. I remember sitting at a breakfast table next to a pregnant woman and striking up a conversation. I asked her about her due date she said she already passed it, but later that day I saw her hauling around heavy bags. It made me realize how lucky we are here to have time as woman to prepare and heal from birth.
At a certain point in my life, Layla introduced me to Ondevit therapy. Ondevit is a healing method using a blend of tinctures based on the results from your session to empower you. The first time I went to an Ondevit healer, I finally felt understood. I knew this was what I wanted to help people with. This is what I love to do. I’m a very spiritual and intuitive person, and strongly believe we are all connected to one another. The image I think of is a giant web in which we are all interlinked and woven together. When you know how to navigate this network, you can exchange energy with each other and access information. I feel this ability is what helps me carry out both post-partum treatments as well as Ondevit sessions.
Our company is growing, we just hired and educated two women to assist us in helping every person that requests treatment. I also give some free treatments to refugees who can’t get in touch or don’t have the budget for it.
I see more and more women becoming conscious of the importance of that period after birth. I know that I won’t be able to do this work my whole life, as it takes a physical and energetic toll. I can’t do more than two treatments per day. I would love to educate more women about the treatments and our philosophy behind it. I think it’s important to teach women the urgency of these treatments.
Our intention is to act as a service for the new mom - we are there for her, and only for her. I think the bigger mission is to empower women, helping them so they can start their journey as a mom from a place of trust. I always say the best advice I can give to momma’s is to trust themselves and their maternal instincts. They know what’s right for themselves and their babies.