I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a long time now. I’m not quite sure why I haven’t already. It’s most likely due to the fact my brain is like a web browser with a million tabs open. There are so many thoughts, ideas, things to remember, and get done on a daily basis, that some of the things I’m most passionate about, fall to the wayside until I make time to get them done.
Where to begin? Becoming a mom is the most transformational, life changing event that I have ever experienced – mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is absolutely wild. After I had Tallulah, I had a newfound appreciation for all of the women who gave birth and mothered before me. Not only do we, as women, grow a tiny human, and carry them in your womb for 9 months, but we literally give it our all to bring them into this world. Every birth is different, and no matter what type of birth you have, this magical transformation happens. You WILL need time to heal – mentally, physically and emotionally. And hell, you deserve it! Your body has gone through SO many changes during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum. (Hello hormones!)
I’m not one to use this word, but I’m going to say it – I HATE that this unnecessary pressure exists for moms. I hate that society has made women feel like they NEED to lose the “pregnancy weight” ASAP, or SHOULD get back into working out, back to work, or show up for events shortly after giving birth. Do I need to remind you that they just grew, carried, and birthed a human being? That their body is still recovering – and may need longer to recover based on the type of birth they had. The AVERAGE amount of time that a woman’s body needs to fully recover from a vaginal birth is one year. An entire year. It’s even longer for women who have a cesarean birth. Not only that, but they’r taking care of a new baby who needs them 24/7 AND they also just met another new person – themselves, as a mother. Our society has SO much to learn about supporting mothers, in general, but especially in the immediate postpartum.
America, in particular has a LOT to learn about caring for new mothers. We could stand to benefit from implementing the practices utilized in other countries. In other countries, they nurture and nourish the mother after she gives birth to her baby. They have a “lying in” period, where the mother’s only focus is to care for her baby, rest, and allow others to take over her pre-baby responsibilities. They encourage mothers to spend the first week at home, bonding with their baby, surrounded by women helping them. What happens here in America? People expect to come visit the baby right after their born, some are even at the hospital in the waiting room while the mother is in labor. People expect women to return to work shortly after giving birth and in most cases there is no paid maternity leave. Or people expect the women who become stay at home moms to take care of a newborn and all of her pre-baby responsibilities. On top of the decision to be a working mom or a stay at home mom, comes the decision to breast or bottle feed, trying to find time to yourself, work out, or be social, etc. All of this while recovering from birthing a baby and most likely, being sleep deprived.
It’s one of my least favorite things about our society – the constant need to be moving on to the next thing. What ever happened to slowing down, soaking in the sights and sounds and appreciating the little moments? (Mind you, these “little” moments, are really the big ones in the grand scheme of things). A few days after Lulah was born I shared a post talking about the importance of doing what feels best for you during your postpartum period. Along with this post, was a picture of me holding Lulah while eating donuts that were about the size of her entire body. In that moment, I wasn’t concerned about what size pants I would fit into or when I could workout again. I was soaking in my baby girl, appreciating my squishy belly and loving on my postpartum body for allowing me to give birth. The response I received after sharing this was incredible. So many moms messaged me sharing their own stories – about wanting to slow down but feeling like they couldn’t, about people commenting on their weight, or asking when they were getting back to work, etc.
I guess my main point is that we, as a society, need to better support mothers – during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. We need to stop acting like giving birth is just a daily occurrence. We need to help with the workload and encourage them to do what feels best for them. Mothers already have a constant to do list running through their mind every day, they don’t need more on their plate. If a new mom wants to breastfeed, support her. If she wants to bottle feed, help her figure out how to make it work. If she wants to start working out again because it feels good in her body, encourage her. If she wants to take time off from working out because she doesn’t feel ready, support that too. If she decides she wants to be a stay at home mom, empower her. If she decides she wants to go back to work, cheer her on. We need to be more understanding and less judgmental. Every single mother is different and therefore, has different wants, needs, and desires. Remember that.