Most people are aware that preparing for birth is an important step in helping to create a positive experience. We are also seeing a revived interest in postpartum care.
Those precious weeks after birth are intense, but with the right support, a newborn mother and her baby can navigate the twists and turns a little easier. They can emerge feeling rejuvenated and peaceful instead of overwhelmed and exhausted.
The new mother deserves to be nurtured
Those first forty days after birth can help or hinder a mothers health for the next forty years of her life. If time is given to rest, recuperate and heal then this can replenish her reserves. This can assist with future pregnancies and also may effect how easily she transitions through menopause later in life. Receiving nurturing postpartum care is an investment in future health. Likewise, failure to place importance on this time can be detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing.
Some of the universal traditions for caring for new mothers
All around the world, different cultures have varying beliefs around postpartum care. Some of the common protocols that are encouraged are; rest, proper nutrition and outsourcing of usual responsibilities.
Slow down and rest
Growing and birthing a baby is physically and emotionally challenging. Sometimes we underestimate how healing and rejuvenating rest can be.
This is where building your village beforehand really comes in handy. Many modern women are accustomed to ‘doing it all’ and the thought of asking for help can feel awkward or uncomfortable. Taking time to rest after birth is essential and we need to move past the notion that receiving help is ‘a luxury’.
An eye-opening exercise is to write down all the tasks you currently do day-to-day. You may cook, clean, look after children or pets, shop for food, garden and/or run a business. For proper rest and recovery, outsourcing as many tasks as possible will be important. What can you get help with? Who can support you? What might you need to outsource? For example; can you hire a cleaner, a cook or postpartum doula?
Foods that are good for newborn mothers are easy to digest and warm, like soups and stews. More importantly, they are cooked for the mother. This is not something she should be trying to do herself one-handed and exhausted. Some women choose to stock up their freezer during pregnancy. Others may ask a friend to organise a ‘meal train’ where friends and family can deliver home-cooked meals throughout the first few weeks after birth. Food that is lovingly made has the power to heal beyond the physical. And, if the mother has the energy, this short social interaction can be good for the soul.
Bring back the village
Modern society would have you believe that faster is better, but in the case of postpartum, slower is better! There is no ‘going back to normal’. The mother is forever changed. It takes time to adjust to her new role and the more supported she feels, the more peaceful she’ll be. A happy and healthy mother is better able to nurture her newborn. Mothers are not meant to make this transition on their own. It really does take a village!
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