What every postpartum American mother needs to know...
In America we have lost our generational knowledge on how to truly support postpartum moms. What was once a time of reverence and healing, has now become a period of anxiety and isolation for many new moms.
I am hopeful that as a culture we are headed in the right direction, but we are nowhere near where we need to be. I’m seeing mothers understand the fourth trimester to a degree – but much of that energy is put solely towards the babies needs during that time. While this is so important, the missing piece is how to support mothers in the fourth trimester.
Did you know that cultures all over the world have traditions and rituals to support postpartum women? Did you know that before the 19th century Americans adopted similar traditions? In China this period of time is called zuo yuezi, in Japan it’s called ansei, in the Dominican Republic it’s called la cuarentena.
What do these practices have in common?
The first 30(ish) days after birth are fiercely protected – meaning, the mother is cared after and pampered by friends and family. They are nourished with healing foods, soaking in oil infused baths, and massaged.. There is a “pay it forward” mentality that friends and families adopt in that they will do this for others because it was done for them.
Massages, nourishing food, naps, and baths?!! Sign. Me. Up.
As a culture, americans are far gone from these rituals. Instead our role models are posting selfies in pre-pregnancy jeans and jet setting with newborns. Many of us feel the need to “host” our families who come to help and are anxious and tired and stressing out on how to figure out motherhood instantly.
The truth is the first 30(ish) days should be full of rest, nourishment, and healing.
You birthed a human! A human!
Many of us are recovery from surgery and figuring out how to feed a tiny human with milk from our own bodies. This is big deal stuff! And so many new moms put so much pressure on themselves to look put together, to get out of the house, and to perfect motherhood instantly.
It’s no wonder postpartum depression and anxiety are on the rise.
If there is one thing I could tell my postpartum self it would be, “it’s OK to rest. You NEED to rest. The house can wait, the to-do list can wait, the road trip can wait.”
And it may not be realistic for us all to spend 30 days in bed being pampered but what is one step you can take in that direction? Even if it’s permission to simply skip the dishes and take that nap.
Because you not only deserve it. You need it. Your baby needs it. Postpartum is one of our first opportunities to learn self-care in motherhood, what ritual can you implement to create nourishing habits?
Back by popular demand, in early 2019 I will be hosting two additional workshops at Modern Milk on Making the most of your maternity leave. For more information and on how to find support during postpartum and tips for a successful “reintegration” to society (be it work or other commitments) come join us at Modern Milk either:
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