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The Critical Lessons Luisa Teaches New Moms in Encanto

I was a bit late to the Encanto party.

Sure I heard all the buzz around it. Many people told me I needed to watch it and gushed about how good it was.

However, I had things to do.

I have a lot of balls in the air. I'm a busy mom with two little ones, I run my own business, I've got household chores to do, etc. My day planner is tightly packed, when was I supposed to have time to sit down and watch a movie?

But then a friend pointed out that one of the songs - Surface Pressure - written by Lin-manuel Miranda and sung by the character Luisa in Encanto, was the perfect metaphor for the pressure that mother's often feel to be productive and strong all the time.

The irony of my beliefs around valuing my own productivity over rest and pleasure were not lost on me. It's something I'm actively working on, so I decided to make some time to watch it.

I was really excited to see that Disney had decided to portray a physically strong woman in their movie. Then I saw Luisa's eye twitch and I knew something pivotal was coming.

Luisa lumbers through the town doing her "chores", moving an entire church, while the towns people shouts more and more requests to her.

Luisa can you re-route the river? "Will do!"

Luisa the donkey's got out again! "On it."

Luisa my house is leaning to the...*shoves it back in place without a word*

The song "Surface Pressure" starts and I'm startled at how clearly it captures the experience of many of us mother's.

"I'm the strong one, I'm not nervous. I'm as tough as the crust of the earth is."

...As she smashes away huge boulders with ease.

Then she shares with her sister how she is actually feeling.

"But under the surface

I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring surface."

We see her walking a tightrope, battling a three headed dog, diving head first into a void.

She goes on to describe her responsibility as...

"Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that'll never stop, whoa

Pressure that'll tip, tip, tip 'till you just go pop, whoa"

And then the two lines that sums up the deepest fear of women...

"Under the surface

I'm pretty sure I'm worthless if I can't be of service.

...Who am I if I can't carry it all?

If I falter"

Oof that's heavy.

The women I work with in my professional role as a postpartum doula, are usually professional women who are pregnant and preparing for the time after they have their baby. Often they had a really challenging first postpartum and are looking to have a different experience with their next baby.

They come to me to help them find peace and joy in those early weeks. Often, the root cause of overwhelm and exhaustion in postpartum are different than what they expect.

The two biggest barriers I see pregnant and postpartum women struggle with in feeling peace and joy in the early weeks are:

  1. Feeling unworthy to slow down and rest in the early weeks after birth.

  2. Struggling to ask for help and not shifting their responsibilities to others.

Just as Luisa illustrates in the movie, the expectation is that mother's are expected to be strong, resilient and capable. They are asked to shoulder incredible burdens for their families and to make it look easy.

Don't complain, don't talk about how heavy the load it, just carry on with the work. It doesn't matter that you just spent nine months growing a baby (often while working outside the home), that you birthed this baby and you're figuring out how to care for this new little person.

The problem is that in postpartum, in the weeks and months after we welcome a baby into our family, this expectation to "carry it all" becomes a very critical issue in the health and wellbeing of mothers and their families.

After pregnancy and birth, a mother's emotional, physical and practical needs are very high. Her rest and recovery demands a lot of time and space, as does establishing breastfeeding and getting to know and bond with this new little person that has come into her family.

...That alone is more than a fulltime job.

Add on top of that is the endless, unrelenting and often invisible workload (that statistically still falls on the female partner's plate...) of the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the never ending household chores, the shopping, caring for older children and being a "good" friend/neighbour/sister/daughter/granddaughter, etc.

It makes a lot of sense that when we aren't able to slow down to accomodate and make room for our needs and the needs of our baby, it feels just like Luisa describes it...

"Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that'll never stop, whoa

Pressure that'll tip, tip, tip 'till you just go pop, whoa"

Most mothers logically know they need to rest and slow down after birth, but our societal conditioning that being a "good mother" means martyring ourselves, putting everyone's needs ahead of our own and disappearing beneath our roles...has been indoctrinated into our subconscious since birth as women.

Luisa reflects on the burden of this expectation in the bridge of the song...

"If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations

Would that free some room up for joy

Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?"

This is exactly it.

The work in finding joy in postpartum and motherhood, actually is in shifting our paradigms around what our role is and how that defines us as a person.

We are not just our roles. We are first a human with needs.

If we shift some of our expectations of ourselves, if we hand off some of the responsibilities onto others, if we allow ourselves some room for joy, relaxation and simple pleasure...what a different experience mother's would have.

Less pressure. More self compassion. Lots of love.


If you are pregnant and wondering how you can shift some of the responsibilities off of your plate to experience more joy and peace in the early weeks with your my guide

The Five Most Common Mistakes Mother In Preparing For Their Next Postpartum. Find it here.


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