My commitment to encouraging intentional post partum planning came from the lack thereof in my own four pregnancies. But, I know I am not alone in this! Most American women hear hardly more than, “So, you have a Meal Train coming for a few weeks?”
Traditionally, (yes, in ‘the olden days’) women were expected to have a time of ‘lying in’ after childbirth, which was a set-aside time for recovery. I think when we (rightly) threw off the shackles of the many cultural constraints, we (unfortunately) freed ourselves not only from unwarranted restrictions, but from some very valuable underpinnings of support. My goal with the Mommas in my care is to end up with a plan that nourishes, heals and restores her so that she, in turn, can give to her loved ones.
So, we talk about it at the first visit. It typically goes something like this:
ME: “So, in other cultures they place a high value on the time after baby is born by setting aside 40-60 days of recovery and bonding for Mom and Baby. I know we don’t do that in our culture; Moms are expected to ‘bounce back’ within a few weeks, but I think these cultures are on to something, and would like to encourage you and your family to start thinking about how you could arrange for at least 6 full weeks of recovery.”
MOMMA: “Oh…that sounds wonderful, but my husband only has a few days he can take off.”
ME: “I understand. That makes it even more important to start thinking about a plan. Do you have family nearby?”
MOMMA: “No, all our family is out of state.”
ME: “Ok, are you a part of a church or Mom’s group?”
MOMMA: “Well, yes, but I can’t imagine asking them for help…"
The first conversation just stirs the puddin’ to get you thinking.
Typically, families feel they have not only limited ‘capital’ within their social and community contacts, but also their financial resources to hire help AND--this is almost 100% the case—even if they are wealthy in one or all three areas, most women are hesitant to ask for help with housework and child care and transportation.
My hope is that if you aren’t encouraged to plan for your recovery from Anyone Else, (and you likely will not) you will hear it from me at. Every. Single. Visit. Until you catch a vision for how crucial it is to not only your own physical recovery, but also to the emotional and spiritual integration of this mysterious, miraculous, amazing life you have just given to the world.
To steal from Madeline Murrray, CPM, “Yes, having a lovely birth matters. Yes, it matters to give your baby the best start, with the least interventions. Yes, it matters to have delayed cord cutting, skin to skin, breast feed….but YOU matter, too. You matter, Momma.”
You can’t give what you don’t have, Momma.
Make a plan.
Ask for help.
Then, you will have something with which to nourish those you love.