Thriving Postpartum with Dr. Oscar Serrallach (EP#97)

by Alexandra Anttilla December 08, 2020 60 mins read

Thriving Postpartum with Dr. Oscar Serrallach (EP#97)

Tahnee is back on The Women's Series today for a moving conversation with Dr. Oscar Serrallach. Dr. Oscar is the author of  the groundbreaking book, The Postnatal Depletion Cure, Integrative GP specialising in postnatal health, and a devoted father, working passionately to bring more focus on mothers postnatal health into the world. His project The Postnatal Depletion Cure has been inspired by witnessing/treating so many women with chronic postnatal depletion and the lack of awareness this dilemma has, both at a societal and medical level. Dr. Oscar articulates the importance of the mother role so perfectly when he states: “The well-being of mothers is the fabric from which the cloth of the future of our society is made”. This heart centred conversation is full of foundational knowledge for mothers, but of relevance to everyone. The time to honour and support all mothers, including the great Mother Earth, is now.

 

"We almost forget as a collective that there is no more important job than making another human being, and there is no more important job than teaching that human being how to love, that's a mother's job. As a father, I can teach my kids around the complexities of love, but the actual fundamentals, that starts in the womb and is learned early on, in that house of love".

 

Tahnee and Dr. Oscar discuss: 

  • The often undervalued role of mothers; Mothers are the centre of society, and it's the responsibility of the community to make sure they are well supported.
  • Motherhood in the 21st Century, how far have we fallen? Motherhood has shifted from being a role of central importance to a secondary thing that women add to their already busy lives.
  • Displaced badges of honour and the pressure mothers have to get back to work instead of honouring and supporting the transition of the maiden to mother.
  • Brain changes women experience during a single pregnancy and how these fundamental changes relate to cultural beliefs around holding a mother in the postpartum period.
  • The importance of a postnatal care plan. What Dr. Oscar recommends and why.
  • The idea of the super mum; how this term can be detrimental to the health and well-being of mothers.
  • The grandmother hypothesis; why the menopausal years are about giving back and passing on wisdom.
  • The increase in Postnatal Neuro Inflammatory Disorders (postpartum fatigue, postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder). What are the causes? How can we avoid them?
  • Autoimmune conditions during and post-pregnancy.
  • Harnessing the power of the placenta; how this amazing organ and  subsequent pregnancies can provide an opportunity for healing the mother.
  • Nervous system practices to maintain and rebuild health. 

Who is Dr. Oscar Serrallach?

Dr. Oscar Serrallach graduated with a medical degree (MBChB) from the Auckland School of Medicine, New Zealand in 1996. He received his fellowship of Family Medicine and General Practice in 2008 and is currently completing a Fellowship in Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He is the owner and principal doctor at the Mullumbimby Integrative Medical Centre based in Northern NSW Australia, which he has been running since 2011.

Dr Serrallach is the author of the groundbreaking book for womenThe Postnatal Depletion Cure, a programme and book for women thatbridges that gap in postanal health, and has brought hope and healing to so many women suffering with postnatal depletion.

Dr Oscar Serrallach is dedicated to remaining at the cutting edge of wellness healthcare and continues to advance and bring awareness to the field of postantal health.

Resources:

Dr. Oscar Serrallach website
The Postnatal Depletion Cure
Dr. Oscar Serrallach Facebook
Dr. Oscar Serrallach Instagram

 


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Check Out The Transcript Here:

 

Tahnee: (00:01)

Hi everybody, and welcome to the SuperFeast Podcast. Today I'm here with Dr. Serrallach and we're going to talk about his book, The Postnatal Depletion Cure and his work with women on going and sort of helping them to restore their vitality after having babies, which is a big and beautiful job. So thank you for joining me today.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (00:22)

Thanks Tahnee, and thanks for the invitation. I really admire your work with SuperFeast and your role in mother care as well. As we know, mothers centre everything and, as a society and as communities, we need our mothers to be as well as possible.

 

Tahnee: (00:38)

Yeah. I loved that right at the beginning of your book where you say ... I'm going to read it, that the well-being of mothers is the fabric from which the cloth of the future of our society is made. I read that and just thought yes, because it sets the framework for our children, how they live, how they raise their children. It's just a cascade.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (00:58)

It's central and it's primary, whereas I think in this 21st century, motherhood has become decentralised and a secondary kind of thing that mothers just add on to their already busy lives. We almost forget as a collective that there is no more important job than making another human being, and there is no more important job teaching that human being how to love. That's a mother's job. As a father, I can teach my kids around the complexities of love, but the actual fundamentals, that starts in the womb and is learned really early on, just that house of love.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:44)

I think it's useful to kind of reframe that because a lot of mothers feel like they want to stay home and stay in that role, and they're feeling pulled into all the trappings of the 21st century living and jobs and success. We've got a very academic way of kind of even judging one's success.

 

Tahnee: (02:07)

Rationalising. I think a lot of rationalising happens when you become a mother.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (02:12)

Well, and externalising, comparing.

 

Tahnee: (02:14)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (02:14)

It can be very tough landscape, especially they're not really that aware of the deep transformation that's kind of occurring within not only mother's kind of psyche, but also within her biology in terms of her brain, her nervous system. Such massive changes occur and everyone's going into parenthood with quite an abstract idea of what they're in for. We talked about Pinterest parenting. It's like you ever go, well, I quite like this and we're going to do this. No, we're not going to do dummies or thumb sucking. We kind of have a checklist of these quite important but not that important issues and actual fundamentals of looking after a helpless human being we don't really have much experience in. We think we'll just kind of wing it.

 

Tahnee: (03:17)

Well, it's funny because there's that old joke where people say, oh you should get a licence to have a child, and there is sort of this element of, culturally, you used to be raised around small children. I see my child and the other children in the street. They kind of raise each other in a way and they learn to be with a smaller person. I can imagine that that gives them this kind of sense that later on they're going to be a little more adapt at handling children when they have their children. I think we miss so much of that because we have these nuclear families and we've lost large families with lots of siblings. That's not really our norm anymore.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (03:56)

Yeah, that's right. In traditional societies, there's not a way you would have reached the possibility of becoming a parent without significant experience in actually looking after young children and slightly older children. Again, the analogy of the licence. You wouldn't have needed a licence because you've already had a lot of experience. The sort of research of American. The average couple researches more time in buying a new vehicle than they do in actually becoming a parent. So there's often a lot of research in the antenatal pregnancy, but the parenting side of things, we don't ...

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (04:33)

So when I'm making a joke about winging it, that's what we all do, expecting that somehow we'll know what to do or someone's going to turn up and help us.

 

Tahnee: (04:45)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (04:48)

We can really struggle and suffer when a mother hasn't slept for months and, at 3:00 in the morning, she can't settle baby. Then she's trying to work out what's going on. It's a very deep, dark place to try to pull yourself back from, especially when you don't have a cultural context.

 

Tahnee: (05:09)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (05:10)

Or even a default place to go, where to get support or ideas, or solutions. As a society, we're very unkind to mothers generally. If there's anything wrong with the baby, who gets blamed? The mom. I think it should almost be the opposite. If there's any issues with the child, it should almost be a collective, ah, the society didn't turn up enough to help that mother for the child.

 

Tahnee: (05:37)

Yep.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (05:39)

Because I don't meet bad mums. I just meet unsupported mums who have struggled and haven't been supported and were unaware. Most mothers are in it boots and all, so it's not a matter of not trying hard enough. It's just not having the right resources, the right knowledge, the right preparation, or even awareness around the certain times of vulnerability that can occur during motherhood. We almost have the opposite in terms of these badges of honour, the super mum getting back to work as early as possible. Working mums, when they're at work, they're pretending they're not a mother. When they're mothering, they pretend they don't have a job.

 

Tahnee: (06:31)

Fragmentation of self.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (06:34)

Quite damaging and pretty much impossible because you can't switch off your mother-ness.

 

Tahnee: (06:39)

If only. No, you don't want to. I think when you first ... I certainly remember being a couple of weeks in and being like, oh my gosh, who am I now, because I'm not that person who gave birth to this child and I'm not a mother yet because I don't know that role intimately. It was just this funny little liminal space of I didn't really know who I was becoming and I didn't know who I was ... I sort of knew who I was leaving behind, but there's a grieving period, which happened for me in pregnancy and then again postpartum. It's interesting and there aren't a lot of elders now to even take ...

 

Tahnee: (07:22)

We had an older friend who doesn't have children, and she's raised or helped raise many nieces and nephews. She showed up and swaddled my daughter and picked her up and walked her around a couple of days after I had her. I just was like, whoa, that's cool.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (07:36)

And so necessary as well.

 

Tahnee: (07:38)

Yeah, because she was friends and close, she just came in and did it. I thought, wow, there's so few women that I know that could help me like that and that sort of can support. I think that's a big part of it, right?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (07:52)

Yeah. What you're describing very beautifully is that transition from maiden to mother. We can talk about that more, but this idea of matrescence, of becoming a mother, is a very profound idea. Many mothers describe this heart ripping experience with those first few days post birth, and that's a real time of vulnerability. One of the most important things that a mother experiences really in that time is safety and that everything is going to be okay, and that her team around her have got this, because she cannot feel the edges anymore and she's getting used to these mother upgrades in terms of nervous system and brain changes and hormones.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (08:43)

It can take several years to get used to these upgrades. What I like about that story that you were sort of sharing is that you had someone, who probably wasn't even asked to help, turning up and doing what was necessary. That's real support, but in a trusting environment. When a mother is actually having to ask for support, it's already too late because, if she senses she's struggling, she's been struggling for quite a bit of time before she's raising her hand, or she may not feel justified to raise her hand to ask for help or feel that she's doing a bad job, and that she's a bad mom and she should know better, which is part of a negative feedback that we often get culturally around motherhood that you just should divinely know how to be a mother at the birth of a child, and shame on you if you didn't get that sort of download.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (09:42)

Of course, mothering is a learned skill. As we alluded to before, we don't have the learning prior to becoming mothers often because they're not looking after lots of children and what have you. Then some women learning on the job. In the sense of vulnerability with the massive changes that have occurred and getting a sense that you're not a maiden anymore but you're not a mother yet, this is a classic challenge of matrescence, the becoming of a mother. Who am I? What does my purpose look like? It can be very derailing if that isn't held or there isn't a container to explain the transition.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (10:29)

This is why I quite like the term adolescence, to compare to matrescence, because that's the only other thing that's comparable. Adolescence, you don't become and adult at your 18th birthday. It's obviously an important time. And you don't become a mother at the birth of your child, even though that's an obviously very important milestone to transformation. We know that adolescence has massive brain changes that occur during adolescence, but there are actually more brain changes that occur during a single pregnancy than for the entire adolescence.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (11:10)

Again, it takes a few years for the adolescent to get used to their brain and they can seem kind of less human for a short period during that, but literally they start feeling more before they start thinking. That's part of ... and for mothers, it's a very similar thing. They can feel so much more than they ever have before, and their brain is infused with millions of oxytocin receptors that maidens don't have and men don't have. That is one of the critical issues in that early phase. This is why so many cultures have such deep cultural beliefs and teachings around holding mother in that early time because, if you think about it, oxytocin not only is the hormone of childbirth in all the contractions of the uterus, but it's also the hormone of skin to skin contact, intimacy, trust and safety.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (12:08)

So essentially, the way I'm interpreting the research is that a mother's stress response system has gone from her previous me, am I safe, am I okay, to this oxytocin infused we. Are we safe, are we okay, does this make sense for us? That can sometimes be ... That is what the baby bubble is, but it also can sometimes extend way beyond the baby. Sometimes it can be the family unit. Sometimes it can be the community. Sometimes it can be the world. That is a very raw feeling that mothers can have. I hear so many mothers, they can't watch the news anymore, they cry at commercials. Their ability to be able to tolerate things really changes.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (12:53)

They can feel like an alien at their workplace, whereas obviously their workplace hasn't changed at all. They have changed. So they're having to ... They are in a liminal space for a while, but the challenge is in the reintegration. One that their liminal space is allowed to go through its force of process, and this is what those cultural practises are essentially around. Then just to have a healthy reintegration. Otherwise, it can be quite destructive on some levels in terms of the mother's sense of self and her psyche and her emotional well-being. She knows that she's different, but no one's told her that she's going to be different.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (13:41)

Trying to deal with that dissonance alone, it's fraught with problems. So a mother suffering on her own is one of the worst things ever really. I think, as a society, that would have never happened in antiquity. Then we're seeing it happen all the time now. We're even seeing sub nuclear families now.

 

Tahnee: (14:10)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (14:10)

So intentional single parenting. Mothers who aren't having a primary partner, having children, so they have even less support than the overwhelmed nuclear family. I see a lot of mothers having to lean on their partners for emotional support, whereas traditionally a partner would have only been doing a small part of that.

 

Tahnee: (14:33)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (14:34)

And the mother could have leaned on so many other people, including aunties and grandmothers and sisters, and really be held deeply with a lot of experience. Yeah, so it's definitely a journey that's fraught with challenges. I think as a collective, and I think this is where you and I have a lot of overlap, is that we understand that. From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, that's actually well described over many millennia that this potential vulnerability is there. As a collective, we have to make sure that mothers never go there wherever possible and support them as much as possible.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (15:20)

A big part of my recent work is not only sort of helping mothers with postnatal depletion and other neuro inflammatory disorders, but actually to do really good postnatal planning.

 

Tahnee: (15:31)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (15:32)

To avoid the pothole in the road. If you can see it, then you can drive around it.

 

Tahnee: (15:37)

Totally, because so much work goes into birth plans. I can't remember how many people asked me about my birth, like every second person. Postpartum, nothing.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (15:50)

Yeah, and if you can imagine having half the amount of energy that went into the birth plan going to your postnatal plan, and then enabling a team of people to enact it, because I think part of the ... Like the birth plan, a mother is in a liminal space during birth and she's in a very vulnerable space post birth. She shouldn't be the one enacting the birth plan or enacting the postnatal plan. She should have agreed on what it looks like and then things are happening without her having to really sort of focus on that, because that can be very challenging for a mother to kind of try to be an advocate in that birth space when she's in such an oxytocin infused vulnerable space, or to even have ...

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (16:43)

She's often in such a time dilated baby bubble that it can be really hard to pull herself out of that to kind of negotiate-

 

Tahnee: (16:53)

A timeframe or delivery schedule, yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (16:53)

... food rosters, yeah.

 

Tahnee: (16:53)

What day is it? Who am I?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (16:54)

Yeah, whose plate does this belong to.

 

Tahnee: (17:00)

Totally.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (17:01)

And having to get stressed out by detail. So part of the birth plan is to enable the guardians. So they can be dads or other primary caregivers, and really give them the keys to the car, so to speak, so they're not having to keep on asking mom is it okay if we do this. What about just things that are happening?

 

Tahnee: (17:25)

Which I guess is sort of an impetus to articulate how you like to be supported. I think that's something where ... Certainly I'm speaking for myself and some friends that I've spoken to this about, but it can be hard to know what you need in that time, especially if you're a first time mum. I think if it's second or third ... I've had friends with a second baby who are like, all right, you're in charge of the food roster and you're in charge of this. They kind of knew what they would need.

 

Tahnee: (17:51)

So in your book, you speak about just the basics of getting enough sleep, good nutrition, those kinds of things. If someone is thinking about what's my postnatal care plan, what are the things that you think are essential to have on there?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (18:06)

Yeah. So I talk about one month of deep rest, 100 days of deep support, and then priority on sleep for one year. So, that's kind of just some of the themes. I really try to enable the guardian, so the dads or the other primary caregivers, to be free of other duties. Their main job is to focus on the mother. Not focusing on the jobs that need to be done. We talk about visitors only start. If anyone's coming over, they've eventually got jobs to do.

 

Tahnee: (18:42)

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (18:44)

To give them permission to do as little as possible. As we know with TCM and setting the moon, in traditional Chinese culture, the mothers are allowed to do essentially nothing. They're allowed to go to the toilet, feed the baby, feed themselves and that's it. Some places are not even allowed to shower in the first month. If you're seen with a newborn baby out on the street, in traditional China, you're going to get shooed back into your home pretty quickly.

 

Tahnee: (19:15)

Yeah, by one of those aunties.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (19:21)

Yeah, yeah. Well, meaning they're quite full on aunties, yeah. Whereas we don't have that context or those sort of boundaries here. There are other things I sort of talk about with sort of postnatal planning is ... I think the food roster is just a great way. So again, food preferences, those kinds of things, email a group, WhatsApp group, whatever it looks like. Then the mother doesn't get involved.

 

Tahnee: (19:46)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (19:46)

Food's arriving. If somebody can't deliver, you've got your backup in the freezer, whatever. Mother doesn't even know. She's not having to kind of be pulled out of the baby bubble. I think social media is a really big trap, especially for the social media inclined. You want to show off your joy to the world, and I totally get that, but have that for four weeks, social media silence. That would be an accepted norm.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (20:21)

For the baby and the mother and the birth weight and everything went well. See you in four weeks.

 

Tahnee: (20:27)

But you even talk about that, that focus on the birth weight, the stats and the kind of ... I remember reading that in your book. It's like there's this real emphasis on that, and then there's kind of just this like, great the baby is here. Forget about mom. Then it becomes baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (20:46)

Yeah, and this was my personal experience. If the spotlight that had been so beautifully on mother during the pregnancy suddenly just disappears and suddenly, hang on, everyone's forgotten about her. I think is a collective ... that's literally what we've done. We're not honouring mothers and we're not honouring the great mother obviously in terms of what we're doing with global pollution and climate change. Who better to enable that change? I think mothers are able to teach children about being agents of change, and this is why we need mothers who are really just grounded, who are well in themselves, who reengage with their purpose.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (21:33)

I call it the birth of the lioness's idea that, once a mother's at a vulnerable kind of stage with her mother upgrades in terms of all these extra brain neurons and receptors, and altered sort of stress responders and hormones, that she's actually got super powers that she didn't have before. She cares more than she ever has, and she'll often care about others more than she cares about herself. That's a gift and a curse, but the gift part of that is we need that sort of energy in all aspects of education, medicine, politics.

 

Tahnee: (22:12)

Life.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (22:13)

Life. I keep coming back to the fact that there are 10 countries in the world that are governed by mothers, by women. Five of them at least, possibly six, are mothers from what I can see. 193 countries governed in the world, so it's a very small percentage, but are the countries that are doing the best from a COVID-19 point of view. Of those 12 countries governed by women, seven of the top 10 in terms of COVID stats are governed by women. Statistically, that's outrageous in terms of the correlation there. I think partly it's a culture that enables females to be prime minister's and it's also that those cultures are obviously more evolved.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (23:04)

Then you've got people in places of power who care a whole lot, and that sounds quite obvious, but we're in a pretty low care political system.

 

Tahnee: (23:18)

But I think that ... I think what I've read in your book, and I'm hoping I'm getting this right, but it's like we need to wait a while. We need to wait until the kids are a bit older before we're sort of ready to express that super power. Would that be fair to say? I feel for me, my daughter is nearly four, and it's really time for me to step back from my leadership role and to give that over. Then there'll be a time when she's a bit more independent when I come back into that with that sort of gathered wisdom.

 

Tahnee: (23:47)

But that pressure to stay on and run the company and all those things, I've really had to drop that over the last four years. It's something that I can feel that I'm capacitated, but I can also feel that my priorities are elsewhere. I think I need to honour that shift in priority. So I wonder if you could talk to that. I know your wife was quite a go getter from what I sort of-

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (24:08)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (24:09)

She's now the mum of three, so I imagine things have changed dramatically for her. So what's your sort of take on that shift? I watched Lucinda Ardern. She's just had a baby and she's running a country.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (24:21)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (24:21)

That's not very good in my mind.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (24:21)

Well, from a postnatal depletion point of view, I was like ... I think she must have gotten pregnant around the time of winning the election from what I can kind of gather.

 

Tahnee: (24:32)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (24:34)

Just doing a little bit of subtraction mathematics. She's had great support.

 

Tahnee: (24:42)

But she also said in an interview she sleeps four or five hours a night, lives on coffee. She's pushing it.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (24:48)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (24:49)

I think that's where this fine line. I remember travelling for three months ... sorry, at three months with my daughter for a month, almost nonstop. It was dreadful. I felt terrible the whole time. I was barely keeping up. It's a totally different game when you have a kid.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (25:06)

Yeah. Lucinda Ardern is probably quite an interesting example where she is supermom, but the idea of a supermom is actually quite dangerous and it shouldn't be something we're aiming for.

 

Tahnee: (25:17)

No.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (25:18)

For me, an analogy is it's like driving around without your seat belt on going, look at me, I didn't have an accident. It's like, well yeah, but you should still wear the seat belt. I've often thought about this question, what is the ideal time. I think it's partly dependent on each mum, but when I kind of look at cultural groups, these are first nations or cultures that are still living quite traditionally, the mothers are very involved with a zero to one year old, but then thereafter the grandmother hypothesis. The one to five year old, even the mother is still very involved, the primary care giving is actually by the aunties and the grandmothers.

 

Tahnee: (26:03)

So that hypothesis, just for people that don't understand, is that the menopausal years are really about giving back to the community in service of raising children, and that the younger mothers were actually doing a lot of the physical work to keep the community going?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (26:19)

Exactly. We're only one of two species that has menopause. Apes, for example, they just become less fertile until death.

 

Tahnee: (26:31)

Yes. Is it whales and us?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (26:31)

Orca whales, yeah. There's probably one other whale that you're thinking about, but they know exactly why orcas have menopause at 30. So they're fertile from 15 to 30 and then they can live up to 80.

 

Tahnee: (26:42)

Wow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (26:43)

So these matriarchs pass on cultural knowledge and they learn seasonal changes. So they've studied orcas. It's a bit weird that they have a hypothesis for humans, but ... I think part of the programme, stopping of the ovaries at 15 and menopause is around, suddenly that cultural knowledge becomes more important than fertility and offspring, because you're supporting direct genetics.

 

Tahnee: (27:15)

Lineage, yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (27:15)

Anyway. So it's investing in grandchildren and the great grandchildren, as opposed to more children. Because there can be so many seasonal changes, and then changes with climate that could occur naturally anyway, it's very important to have that flexibility. That can take a long time to learn. So grandmothers have a really important role. Again, we would have had children much younger.

 

Tahnee: (27:49)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (27:49)

The average age in Australia, one of the oldest countries in the world, 30.9 is the average age for your first child. Now that would have never happened in prehistory. That wouldn't have been the age of your first child. In this culture, we've had these deep practises to get mother back on board that first year. Baby bonding, really just focus on baby, and then she's kind of released from her role. So we need at least a year, but the effects of not allowing the hormonal system to recalibrate can cause neuro inflammation, which basically all the problems postnatally that we know about, postpartum fatigue, postnatal depression, all the mood disorders including anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, they are neuro inflammatory in nature, which are very different to men and maiden for similar symptoms. They're a unique group.

 

Tahnee: (28:50)

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you're saying postpartum, all of those symptoms or syndromes can be traced back to this inflammation of the brain.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (28:59)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (28:59)

Yeah, okay.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (29:00)

It's a very tiny part of the brain. The research in the last few years has really increased in understanding of which parts of the brain and what you can potentially do about it is just really starting. So this idea of neuro inflammation is quite ... It's not new, but the idea with mothers in terms of as a community and as doctors and healers, this idea is relatively sort of new. It makes a lot of sense. The pattern fits exactly with what anyone sees clinically or if you're watching mothers kind of struggle with depression or fatigue, you realise this is not just stock standard symptoms.

 

Tahnee: (29:47)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (29:47)

There's something very different or unique going on. So with that neuro inflammation, that can last for years and years afterwards. The peak incidence of depression after a child is four to five years after birth of a child but, because it's outside the six months definition, they can't call it postnatal depression. They have to call it depression postnatally. So it just shows you there's an accumulation of factors that can occur.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (30:20)

When they do electrical scans of a mother's brain who has depression, they look very different to a maiden's brain who has the same symptoms. We shouldn't be calling these conditions postpartum depression, postnatal anxiety. They should actually be postnatal neuro inflammatory disorder.

 

Tahnee: (30:44)

Yeah. The implication is you're not going to treat them with antidepressant in the same kind of treatment, right?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (30:51)

It just happens that some of the antidepressants have an accidental effect on neuro inflammation through something called gabber.

 

Tahnee: (30:57)

Oh yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (30:58)

Not through serotonin, which is ... Serotonin often takes two weeks for these medications to start working. If one of these serotonergic agents has this accidental gabber effect, you can start getting benefits within two to three days.

 

Tahnee: (31:14)

Okay, but then herbs like Mucuna and things that work on gabber as well are going to be beneficial, right? Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (31:20)

One thing just to be aware of regarding that is the first ever approved drug for postpartum depression came out last year in America. It's not available in Australia.

 

Tahnee: (31:30)

I saw it, yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (31:31)

Yeah, it's a pretty big topic, but I think what's profound about it is it's not actually a drug as much as a repurposed placental hormone that's been tweaked and infused into the mother who has depression, anxiety, can't look after herself. It essentially switches off that neuro inflammation within 12 hours typically.

 

Tahnee: (31:59)

Wow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (31:59)

So pretty profound that one hormone can help a psychiatric condition, or that a hormone or anything can switch off a psychiatric condition, because that's relatively new ground. Normally you'd be managing or treating, not switching off. They give it as an infusion over 60 hours and mothers usually don't relay need any treatment after that.

 

Tahnee: (32:24)

Wow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (32:25)

It's very expensive. It's not available in Australia, and I'm sure the pharmaceutical industry is going to do what it does and try to push it out to every mother who is struggling. But the idea is the unique landscape of the mother's brain, that this intervention probably wouldn't make much difference for a man or a maiden with the same symptoms. So if we can just really feel how profound that idea is, it's actually totally different. Anyone who works with mothers senses that. I think the science is just giving us permission to treat mothers differently, and it also is giving us an imperative that mother care is super, super important.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (33:17)

I think one of the aha moments for me was looking at traditional Chinese medical texts when they described what happens to a mother who isn't supported. Even though the language is very different to what the concept of that a mother can be left in this fragile, nervous, depleted state ongoing, that's been known about for thousands of years. Hence the elaborate cultural practises and bullying by well meaning aunties because it's become-

 

Tahnee: (33:59)

They observed that and they found solutions, which is science really. It's replicable over time and we're watching generations of women benefit from that. But then we don't really want to adopt those practises necessarily in our culture because it feels like who's going to ... Even the binding and all of those things, it's so rare that that's-

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (34:22)

It can almost seem antifeminist as well.

 

Tahnee: (34:24)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (34:26)

This is some of the feedback that I've certainly got from my mothers. What's quite cute for me is all my medical software that I use with pregnant mothers, it still has the initials EDC on there, estimated date of confinement. So it's alluding back to kind of the Victorian idea that mothers needed to be confined. Of course that seems quite-

 

Tahnee: (34:50)

Antiquated.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (34:50)

Yeah. That's very antifeminist, but the idea is that the confinement was a necessary part of the care. Then the confinement kind of occurred in hospitals, and then we just forgot about the confinement. Off you go, do what you want, good luck.

 

Tahnee: (35:12)

Yeah. I've always said feminism has a lot to answer for because I think even some of those concepts of supermom and that comparison of ... I used to say I'll just bring my daughter to work. It'll be fine. I think there was this programing, I suppose, around my own upbringing and what I'd sort of witnessed in media and my friends and peers. It seemed like they kind of had the baby and they maybe disappeared for a month and then they were back to normal, in inverted comma's invariably not.

 

Tahnee: (35:44)

But you talk about all of these things that come up. You talk in your book about treating women four years down the track that have all sorts of debilitating, whether it's anaemia or things like chronic colds and flues.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (35:57)

Fatigue.

 

Tahnee: (35:58)

Fatigue.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (35:58)

Sleep problems, emotional health.

 

Tahnee: (35:59)

Yeah, and it's like that's still happening.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (36:00)

yeah.

 

Tahnee: (36:02)

It's almost normalised. So many of my mom friends would just sort of accept that you're tired all the time and your brain doesn't work properly, but I don't know that that's ... When I'm really careful, I actually feel really good, but I have to have very strong boundaries and really take responsibility for my health as a priority over anything else I do. I think that's the sense of we normalise this business and this kind of deep fatigue and exhaustion, but it's really not normal. It's what everyone does.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (36:33)

Well, what's common. So what is normal and what is common. 50% of people get cancer in their lifetime, so that's pretty common. You cannot convince me that cancer is normal. Many conditions alike, diabetes 50% rate past the age of 50, heart disease. It's so common that they're normalised. America is interesting that it's often four or five years ahead of what the statistics show in Australia. Currently in America, and I'm expecting to see this in Australia in four to five years time, is the rate of PMS or perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. That can be depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, is 40% within that first three to six months.

 

Tahnee: (37:24)

Wow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (37:25)

So that's ... it was 30, 20%, and we're seeing ... It's not that the diagnosis is getting better or more-

 

Tahnee: (37:36)

More sensitive, yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (37:38)

It's just we're having more mothers that are just struggling and strung out, and really just pushed beyond their capacity, and then left in this neuro inflammatory state, and then they get the label, and then they get pharmaceutical treatment.

 

Tahnee: (37:56)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (37:58)

So if you see the rates increasing, we have to then go, well as a collective, are we just okay with that?

 

Tahnee: (38:07)

Yeah, take responsibility as a community.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (38:09)

Yeah, also just go, okay, the stakes are getting higher. It's not that we're getting softer with each generation. It's just that there's epigenetic change over generations. I think there's more toxins, there's more-

 

Tahnee: (38:22)

Totally.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (38:23)

The modern woman doesn't have any downtime, whereas the ancient woman had a lot of stress for sure, but she had a lot of downtime as well. Times of boredom, times of just relaxation. The modern 21st Century woman and the modern mother, it's 24/7. She just keeps peddling, keeps peddling, and isn't supported to not do that. Then the expectation is that's what a mother does. Why you can blame her. You wanted the child. You've got a healthy ... The negative feedback that a mother gets if she is struggling is terrible. The judgement from well meaning others.

 

Tahnee: (39:05)

Yeah, the undermining of their experience.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (39:07)

Then a mother then judges herself, and then she starts undermining her own abilities. She may also pass it onto the next generation, this idea of the mother wound where intergenerational we can pass on the non supportive mothers. It doesn't have to be directly from your own mother. The mother wound is really about a cultural norm.

 

Tahnee: (39:34)

Collective, yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (39:36)

I wasn't supported. I wasn't allowed to shine my light. Why should you? That's part of the unspoken energy that sort of can happen in between generations. Yeah, it's devastating.

 

Tahnee: (39:51)

It comes back to mother care, which is this essential what you do. So we're talking ... You mentioned a lot the autoimmune factor. I think, when I was pregnant, I was reading about how the baby's cells end up in the mother's heart or her brain or long after the kind of sharing a space.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (40:13)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (40:13)

Which still blows me away sometimes. There was a baby in my belly. But yeah, that can lead to really drastic immunological ... it can have a really positive effect, I've read. It can have these sort of ... I know people who have not been able to eat gluten before and suddenly have great digestion and don't have those inflammation responses, but then it can go the other way too, right?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (40:33)

Yeah. This is the-

 

Tahnee: (40:35)

Opportunity and curse, I guess.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (40:37)

Well, it's placental inflammation really. You need some inflammation, but too much inflammation during pregnancy, the immune system can get quite stressed. Essentially, most autoimmune conditions, apart from Lupus, improve-

 

Tahnee: (40:56)

During pregnancy.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (40:57)

During pregnancy. Mothers can feel amazing during pregnancy. Not all mothers, but because of progesterone and some of those other hormones. Then, once the placenta is delivered, you're in this vulnerable state, and then the immune rebound hypothesis is that the immune system can literally not only swing back to normal, but you've got a baby that's 50% foreign in you that swings too far the other way and becomes over reactive. So you can get a lot of things that are kicked off because of the pregnancy, and Hashimoto's seems to be one of those postpartum [inaudible 00:41:39]. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid seem to be conditions that may be very much pregnancy related, but the research is surprisingly sparse.

 

Tahnee: (41:54)

Really?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (41:54)

Yeah. You think we'd know this really well. Again, we've got the wrong definitions. If you don't go to the endocrinologist or the rheumatologist within the first six months, you are treated like a man or a maiden.

 

Tahnee: (42:10)

Sure.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (42:10)

They don't even ask you have you had kids.

 

Tahnee: (42:13)

That change hasn't been factored into a diagnosis.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (42:17)

They're just going, do you have this condition, yes or no? Checklist, blood test, xrays, next and next, rather than looking at the timeline and going, you didn't have this before the pregnancy and you have it after the pregnancy. Sometimes mothers have no idea what's going on until maybe a year or two after the birth of the child. Then it kind of dawns on them that this is not just-

 

Tahnee: (42:41)

Yeah, fatigue.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (42:44)

Fatigue or sleep deprivation.

 

Tahnee: (42:44)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (42:46)

So I think I really like this idea of a special field of medicine for mothers that we might call matriarchs or something like that to kind of really show the unique landscape and the unique things that can happen. We've got paediatrics, we've got geriatrics.

 

Tahnee: (43:05)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (43:06)

I think there's definitely enough research to kind of look at mothers as a separate group.

 

Tahnee: (43:15)

Yeah I seem to remember Chinese medicine, there was ... I can't remember her name now. It might come to me, but there was a textbook translation on sort of gynaecology. They did speak to treating mothers differently and at different stages since the birth as well. Maybe you've come across it. I'll see if I can find it, but I thought it was super interesting because it was sort of the first time I'd been exposed to that idea that you're different and that you might be different 10 years, 20 years.

 

Tahnee: (43:46)

I think from that cellular ... when they talk about the baby's cells, they can stay for a couple of decades sometimes.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (43:52)

20-30 years.

 

Tahnee: (43:53)

Yeah, which is like having a foreign cell in your body.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (43:58)

It can somehow turn the system for good, but then it can also stress the system. This is probably what we're seeing with autoimmune diseases is too many foetal cells come into the mother's circulation and stressing the immune system too much.

 

Tahnee: (44:11)

So would that mean a more, sort of ... I can't remember the word right now, but the barrier of the placenta is more porous.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (44:20)

Yeah, so leaky placenta. Researchers don't call it that, increased permeability of the placental membrane.

 

Tahnee: (44:27)

Permeability, that's the word.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (44:29)

It's basically leaky placenta and this idea of preg formation. The placenta is going to be slightly leaky and we've had to revert to a very unique old type of placenta as humans that most apes and most mammals don't use.

 

Tahnee: (44:43)

Yeah, I think you were saying we're one of the only ones ... 20% of something are like us, or not even.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (44:48)

Well, it's more the fact that it's not the classic mammal, advanced mammal placenta.

 

Tahnee: (44:56)

Okay, it's larger, right?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (44:59)

It's larger and it has more surface area.

 

Tahnee: (45:01)

Yeah, okay. So it takes up more space.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (45:03)

So rather than the kind of finger and finger type placenta, which is kind of a 50/50 transaction, it's what they call the mop in the bucket analogy to enable much wider surface area to enable more nutrients-

 

Tahnee: (45:17)

More blood flow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (45:18)

... and essentially fat. So fat's one of the things that-

 

Tahnee: (45:21)

Yeah, in the last stages, a lot of fat.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (45:24)

Seven grams of fat, which is a major biological back flip that the placenta has to do to enable that. So it means that the placenta is more easily damaged than the placenta of a horse or a pig or something like that, which are pretty stable. So you don't see inflammatory issues in these kinds of animals very often.

 

Tahnee: (45:45)

That makes me think, if a mother comes into pregnancy with leaky gut or something, is there a higher chance of her developing a leaky placenta?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (45:54)

You would think so, but again zero research.

 

Tahnee: (45:57)

Yeah, this is hypothesis.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (45:59)

If you've already got too much inflammation, increasing intestinal permeability or leaky gut, even sort of increased brain permeability, sort of leaky brain. Basically conditions of too much inflammation. So if you're having that going into pregnancy, it can work both ways. Sometimes people think it can actually have a massive healing effect with all these hormones.

 

Tahnee: (46:27)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (46:28)

I've seen that happen. Often I'll try to coach mothers who have had very negative pregnancies or postnatal experiences to then use subsequent pregnancies as a healing experience.

 

Tahnee: (46:43)

Yeah, that's a Chinese medicine concept too, that each pregnancy is an opportunity ...

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (46:47)

Yeah, I love that. I call it harnessing the power of the placenta. The placenta produces hormones to a volume that we can't even imagine.

 

Tahnee: (46:57)

Yeah, it's an amazing organ just in terms of that it's not really either the child or the mother's either. It's this kind of thing.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (47:07)

Genetically it's the child.

 

Tahnee: (47:08)

It's the child, yeah okay.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (47:09)

But serving two masters.

 

Tahnee: (47:11)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (47:14)

It's having to kind of do a trade off sometimes. If it doesn't get it right, one or the other is going to suffer. Then it would be a bad outcome for both.

 

Tahnee: (47:23)

Yeah. So does the child initiate its formation, but the mother provides the nutrition for it, because from what I've understood there's this unusual sharing of resources in that it demands a lot of the mother and the mother will give more than she has if necessary.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (47:40)

Yeah. So apart from vitamin D, which isn't even a vitamin. It's a-

 

Tahnee: (47:45)

Hormone.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (47:45)

Pro-hormone, which is kind of a 50/50 sort of share. Everything else is preference for the child, even oxygen. So if a mother were to be drowning or something like that, she would drown first before the child because of fetal ... Haemoglobin will just grab onto the oxygen at the expense of the mother. So, that's how ... Not that it's a very nice example, but it's an example of just how profound that one way street is.

 

Tahnee: (48:16)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (48:17)

It's true with iron, with DHA, with basically all the vitamins, nutrients, minerals. Daylight robbery is one term I've heard.

 

Tahnee: (48:25)

Yeah, we used to call it a parasite. Kindly, but-

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (48:30)

Yeah. So this is why the focus shouldn't be really on the child. It should be on the mother because, from an animal kingdom point of view, they've got quite a unique set up in terms of we've got this massive brain. People don't realise that we're not like any other animal. 20-25% of our energy goes to feeding our brain, whereas the next animal, which I think is a whale or a gorilla maybe, clocks in at about nine percent.

 

Tahnee: (49:03)

Wow.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:04)

Nature's done a trade off that we have less muscles than other apes. We have shorter digestive tracks and a smaller liver to offset the cost. It's kind of like a budget.

 

Tahnee: (49:17)

Totally. You have this much for the brain, but you've got to lose the liver.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:20)

Then the child is born much earlier because upright walking is more of the pelvis. Instead, we've got this massive head that other primates don't have.

 

Tahnee: (49:30)

Mm-hmm (affirmative). It has to get out before it gets too big to leave the birth canal.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:33)

Yeah. They look at comparative studies are looking at apes. Humans should be born around 22 months.

 

Tahnee: (49:46)

For our perfect health.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:48)

Well, for just how capable that infant is.

 

Tahnee: (49:52)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:52)

You look at other infants that can do stuff.

 

Tahnee: (49:54)

Totally, not just blimps.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (49:58)

From chimpanzees and gorillas. So from nine months to 22 months, they've got this totally helpless being.

 

Tahnee: (50:05)

Little guy or girl.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (50:06)

This is why, again, mother nature's had to work out some extra things in terms of more oxytocin to care more about this liability.

 

Tahnee: (50:17)

Sure, and that's where social sort of things came from. I think I've read some anthropolitical stuff that said the reason we've developed societies and cultures and all those villages was because we have these liabilities. It wasn't as easy to move around constantly with helpless babies.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (50:35)

And we've grown those parts of the brain that enable ... If you look at chimps, they can live in groups of 30. Then enobos, who are much more social, can live in groups of 50.

 

Tahnee: (50:50)

Yeah, ours is like 150.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (50:52)

150, and that's because of gossip. No, no, gossip is not a bad thing. You have to keep connection with everyone in your tribe.

 

Tahnee: (51:01)

Mm-hmm (affirmative), so you'll talk about people.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (51:04)

So you can talk about something you may not have seen for a few days, and that's ... of course it's meant to be a really healthy thing. People checking in, how's so and so down by the river? He's collecting fish from the tribe. How's he or she doing? So gossip is actually part of what enables us to live in those groups of 120 and 150. Then another instalment that we've had is the religious part of the brain that then we can live in super clans. So you can meet someone from a super clan and, if you share a religious ideology, that suddenly goes from 150 to thousands and thousands.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (51:41)

Research around that is super interesting. The only problem is, when you have a super clan meeting another super clan with different religious ideologies and we don't need to get down to that-

 

Tahnee: (51:52)

We all know what happens.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (51:55)

Especially if there's resources to be had.

 

Tahnee: (51:58)

Yeah. So one of the things I think, if we just want to start thinking about wrapping up, but the real ... I guess this sense that the mother can be prepared, because this is something I've always seen out of ancestral kind of writings on women. It's like there's this sense of before conception of building the mother's reserves, and then there's obviously the pregnancy, so sort of nutritious and well managed pregnancy. Chinese medicine is very big on that as well. I'm sure most other countries are too.

 

Tahnee: (52:33)

Then this sense of postpartum rebuilding the stores, rebuilding what's been kind of depleted through the pregnancy. That seems to be a really big missing factor in our thinking around pregnancy. I think the nutrition and stuff ... I had a friend who didn't eat anything except for chocolate for her whole pregnancy because she just felt crap the whole time. I'm sure she was okay. The baby is healthy, whatever, but there's this sense that it's not a huge priority a lot of the time for people.

 

Tahnee: (53:04)

So if you're talking nutrition and how to build ... I always think about building healthy blood, building healthy hormones and all these things. What are the main things you emphasise with your clients?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (53:15)

One thing I've grown to realise in sort of many years of working with mothers is that, behind the hormonal system, behind the immune system and behind a lot of these layers that we kind of see is the nervous system. A key part of maintaining good health and a key part of recovering is around nervous system practises. So these are essentially things that enable us to recalibrate back to a zero point. Knowing that your inflammation, as an example, is immune system out of control.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (53:53)

Then that drives the immune system, and then that drives the hormonal system, because those are key parts of the brain that decide hormones and the immune response or not are in the brain. When people say it's all in your head, they're being unkind, but they're kind of-

 

Tahnee: (54:09)

Kind of true.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (54:09)

Yeah, unwittingly telling the truth. So, that's become much more of a theme. The nutrients, the supplements in the food I think all support, but if you're not doing the nervous system practises, then you're losing a lot of the benefit. Of course, the great nervous system practise is called sleep. We know that the average mother loses up to 700 hours of sleep in that first year, so she's already on the back foot.

 

Tahnee: (54:43)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (54:43)

So how to do you then support her nervous system during the day? Ideally we're doing nervous system practises preconception during pregnancy. I was talking before about 3:00 in the morning, you're baby's not sleeping, you haven't slept for months. That's not the time ideally to start nervous system practises.

 

Tahnee: (55:06)

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (55:10)

So I'm really trying to coach a lot of my pre-mothers and pregnant mothers to really start looking into ... What's interesting with nervous system practise is the researchers often say that there is a sense of stillness. There's often paced respiration, so slowed down respiration, slow in breath, slow out breath. There are many things that can potentially tick a nervous system practise, meditation, gratitude practise, yoga, yoga nidra, micro naps, walking meditations, sometimes even craft or creative pursuits.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (55:50)

Well, if you bring in the breath awareness, you can get into a flow [inaudible 00:55:53] that can really help recalibrate the nervous system. Just realising that can do way more than what a lot of supplements can do.

 

Tahnee: (56:02)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (56:03)

So we shouldn't just be focusing on that without really giving importance to those nervous system practise. Then re enabling mothers to do these things, because when you're 24/7 busy, the universe is never going to come along and say, hey mom, do you want to-

 

Tahnee: (56:21)

Take off an hour.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (56:22)

Yeah, a 30 minute guided meditation. No one will disturb you. That's just not going to happen.

 

Tahnee: (56:25)

Okay.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (56:28)

So ideally the concept's already there. The practise is already there. Then that inner circle, that team, the guardians-

 

Tahnee: (56:37)

Facilitating.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (56:38)

Facilitating and honouring. It takes more than a tantrum for one of your kids to come knock that off your schedule. Whereas I see so many mothers just going, today was a weird day, I didn't do my practise. It's like, well when did you last do your practise? Two weeks ago. It's like, we really need to empower mothers to ... Something I've recently started comparing these nervous system practises to is like brushing your teeth. Dental health practise, you do it twice a day. You don't really think about it too much. It feels odd if we don't do it and we're looking for a longterm dental health. Teeth don't fall out tomorrow if you haven't brushed your teeth, but we'll kind of go out of our way. If we're out camping and we don't have a toothbrush, we'll sort it out pretty quickly usually.

 

Tahnee: (57:36)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (57:38)

So we kind of need a mental health practise, [inaudible 00:57:41] we don't have to really think about it too much and it feels a bit strange if we don't.

 

Tahnee: (57:45)

Yep.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (57:46)

So what I really encourage mothers to do is what does that look like to you. Then what have you done in the past that might fit that. What are you thinking about that might fit that. Then you here a few suggestions. Then once you're doing those practises, guard them.

 

Tahnee: (58:04)

Yeah, with your life.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (58:05)

Well, as if your life depends on it because, ironically, it does.

 

Tahnee: (58:10)

It does, yeah. You mentioned yoga nidra, and it's funny because I haven't had the experience of not ... I'm a yoga teacher and I had a practise since I was 15 at various degrees of commitment as I was in my 20s and stuff. But from my mid 20s to now, I've been very committed, and I can find myself, if I put on a major recording, it's the equivalent of a good nap for me or something like that. 20, 30 minutes can revitalise me.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (58:43)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (58:44)

If I feel myself coming down with something, I can do a yoga nidra and it seems to ... What you're saying about it actually turning off the kind of stress response and the information makes some sense. It always puts me in that heal response.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (58:57)

It's a recalibration.

 

Tahnee: (58:59)

Yeah. I don't get sick a lot of the time if I'm consistent with it. But it is something that ... I can imagine if it's not something in your repertoire, it can feel a little bit confronting to go and find. Do you have any resources or places, people that you recommend to your mums?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (59:19)

Well, I first kind of acknowledge the situation. I explore what mothers have done in the past. It's kind of maybe that we have to reinvent the wheel. Yoga nidra is very easy to find. Many things on the web now, so I'm not kind of attached to any particular style. Essentially it's a guided meditation with body awareness and breath awareness.

 

Tahnee: (59:43)

So anything along those lines is going to be of service.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (59:47)

Even micro napping where you technically you don't go to sleep. You touch a sleep space.

 

Tahnee: (59:51)

Like a liminal or half awake naps? Is that what you mean?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (59:55)

Yeah, for 15 or 20 minutes.

 

Tahnee: (59:56)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (59:56)

You literally touch the sleep space. You may need to put an alarm on. The guided meditation is kind of your alarm in some way because it-

 

Tahnee: (01:00:02)

Sure. It tells you to come up again.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:00:05)

Yeah. You can get a good four hours after that. Even place like Google and all of these large corporations.

 

Tahnee: (01:00:13)

Yeah, we do it here. It's only twice a week. The guys have a half hour meditation session.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:00:22)

Okay. Probably wht Google have sleep pods where they kind of expect people to have a micro nap, not because they care about their employee, but-

 

Tahnee: (01:00:27)

Better productivity

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:00:28)

Well, then the product of your research. Your product nosedives after six hours. It doesn't matter who you are.

 

Tahnee: (01:00:35)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:00:36)

If you're a mother, if you're working, if you've had six hours you're toast. You need something rejuvenating and something that's relatively easy. I often talk to my mothers about cue points, and a cue point is where you are cued to do a relaxation of some sort. So a cue point might be on the toilet. It's usually a place where you're physically still. It doesn't always have to be. So at traffic lights. Literally in a cue at the super market, those kinds of things.

 

Tahnee: (01:01:04)

Cue, cue.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:01:06)

That's just an invitation to do maybe five slow in breaths and five slow out breaths. It's really amazing when you become more practised at these things. You think oh my gosh, I kind of just felt a bit frazzled before, but I'm a little bit more centred now, a little bit more resilient. That can make all the difference. If you're doing that enough times and then you're doing some bigger practises once a week and looking at your nutrition and your purpose, and being active enough but not over-exercising, and eating the right food for your body type at the right kind of stage.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:01:44)

Motherhood, that nervous system intervention can make all the difference. Then it can actually improve the quality of your sleep. There's so many ... I talk about a virtuous cycle. This is a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle is I haven't slept well, I'm so tired, my cortisol is low, my blood sugar is not great, I'm just eating on the run. I'm not making the best decisions, I'm frustrated, I'm getting angry and then I'm feeling bad about myself because of the anger. That's a real vicious cycle. Then I'm being combative with my partner. We're not having that kind of connection time. Then dominoes for that can be just a constant state.

 

Tahnee: (01:02:28)

Totally.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:02:29)

A vicious cycle. Whereas a virtuous cycle is you do something that makes it a little bit easier to then maybe do some ... make a better food choice or make sure you protect that space for your nervous system practise that makes it easier for a healthy interaction with your partner, that makes it easy to then advocate for yourself. It makes it then easier to kind of see what's kind of going on, realise okay I actually need to kind of change a little bit.

 

Tahnee: (01:02:53)

Totally, react to your kids.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:02:55)

Yeah, you just go, okay this isn't working, and have the energy and insight to kind of change in a healthy kind of way. Whereas, if you're just in postpartum rage or anger, while that energy is there to motivate change, the change is often not whether you want is what you're really desiring.

 

Tahnee: (01:03:13)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:03:16)

It fuels ... So again, it's not about perfection. It's just about slightly better.

 

Tahnee: (01:03:21)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:03:21)

Then slightly better leads to slightly better. That's what a virtuous cycle is.

 

Tahnee: (01:03:25)

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Instead of those little steps in a downward spiral, it's little steps in an upward spiral.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:03:31)

Yeah. Sort of week to week, month to month. I often see mothers going, I'm still tired but I'm doing so much more and I feel better in myself, and I'm a bit clearer. The other thing is that I've stopped asking mothers how are you feeling because probably a better question is how much are you doing.

 

Tahnee: (01:03:52)

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:03:53)

In terms of that, especially if there's fatigue there because, if you're able to do more things in a healthy way, you're still going to have some degree of fatigue because we just spend whatever energy we have often. But it's often a clarity, stability, enjoying or enduring the process.

 

Tahnee: (01:04:14)

Yeah, and ease for well-being.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:04:17)

For a mother who is really so invested and she's just enjoying the process, it's like a prison sentence. Then she refuels the lack of joy and groundhog dayness experience.

 

Tahnee: (01:04:31)

Yeah.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:04:31)

Even confounds ... That's I think tragedy on tragedy really when enjoying her role and her sense of what she's doing is not necessarily that far away. Then she feels very unsuccessful.

 

Tahnee: (01:04:56)

It's that compounding heaviness, and it can be a repetitive and thankless role if you can't find, I think, yourself and your purpose and your kind of space in it. So it's so wonderful that you've found this work. It seems like such an important area that needs so much more attention, so I hope you're training people [crosstalk 01:05:21].

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:05:21)

Yeah, I honestly believe there isn't a more important thing than mother care. I'll wait to hear suggestions about what's more important than mother care because I haven't come across anything.

 

Tahnee: (01:05:34)

Well, it's the future of our species and I think it's fundamental. If we can breed healthy, happy, well rounded humans that can take this world forward, it's the best thing we can do.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:05:48)

Yeah, and being egalitarian, so not earning more than others in this kind of hollow chase for more. You need to have healthy attachment for that to occur. Mothers are people who really set up attachment.

 

Tahnee: (01:06:04)

Yep, and foster that in children.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:06:06)

Yeah, it kind of really important effects both positively and negatively when we don't support mothers or if we support mothers in a full way.

 

Tahnee: (01:06:20)

Well, I hope if you're listening to this and you aren't a mother, you're taking notes because there's lots of work to do. If you're a father or someone ... We didn't get to chat a lot about menopause, but a lot of older women have so much to offer younger women I think. I have friends, Helena and Tanya, who are both in their 60s and maybe 70s, and they offer me so much wisdom and support. That's just such a gift to me to have those women there to bounce things off and to take my daughter sometimes and to offer that role, because my family are far away.

 

Tahnee: (01:06:51)

So I hope everyone listening is noting what they can do, and I really wanted to thank you for coming.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:06:59)

Thank you for a great conversation. I really hope that people listening kind of take that conversation further. I think this is a real ground roots movement.

 

Tahnee: (01:07:12)

Totally. Well, what you've done in this community, and I know just so many people respect your work, it really feels to me like the more we spread these messages, the better. We just can't talk about it enough really.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:07:24)

Yeah. I agree. We're on the same page there.

 

Tahnee: (01:07:29)

Keep banging on. You can't stop us.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:07:32)

Yeah. Just bringing kind of joy into this space as well because motherhood can be so joyous.

 

Tahnee: (01:07:40)

It's the best thing ever. I think that sense of navigating yourself, any and everything we've touched on from the social to the kind of personal ... even from partner to partner, I've changed. Mason's changed. I'm sure you and your partner have changed. It's redefining your relationships I'm sure with every child. It's such a big, huge, constant learning and it's beautiful. It's one of the best things that's ever happened to me, but it's big. Nothing can prepare you I think for the bigness of it.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:08:15)

Yeah, and this idea of the changing of what's important. I think such a-

 

Tahnee: (01:08:21)

Reprioritizing.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:08:23)

Yeah, internal fixes. We don't think about that.

 

Tahnee: (01:08:27)

Care.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:08:29)

We're very aware of external success.

 

Tahnee: (01:08:30)

But to be rewarded on an inner level I don't feel is well celebrated. There's a satisfaction in me now, with even having chosen to do less, but I can feel sometimes that people don't understand that that can be satisfying, that it's ease. I can be a mum and I can be with her, and that's the choice we're making. It's different, but it's great.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:09:03)

Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:03)

So we're going to have a copy of Dr. Oscar's book for everybody to win on our social media. So if you're listening, jump on there and check that out. You can also find Dr. Oscar Serrallach on his website. So it's Dr.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:09:20)

D-R.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:22)

Oscar and then Serrallach. He does online consultations, which is awesome. You can also get a copy of his book from there if you don't mean one, and he has social medias, Facebook and Instagram under the name of you.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:09:40)

Yes.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:41)

So yeah, please jump on there. He has a cute picture of his ... Is that your daughter?

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:09:45)

Yes. Yeah.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:45)

She's so cute.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:09:47)

She's a little bit older now, but yeah.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:52)

Still cute. Yeah, so thank you again so much for your time. I'm sure everyone will be joining me in saying that was super interesting, and I just loved hearing that kind of more biochemistry and biological kind of take on postpartum, so thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:10:06)

Well, thank you for the opportunity to talk, Tahnee. Thank you for your work. I think you're a real gift to our community as well with what you do at SuperFeast.

 

Tahnee: (01:10:15)

Thank you.

 

Dr. Oscar Serrallach: (01:10:16)

Let's keep the mother care train rolling.

 

Tahnee: (01:10:19)

Choo-choo.

Alexandra Anttilla
Alexandra Anttilla



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