Rethinking Postpartum

In our western culture, we have come to celebrate the mother who is “bounces back” to her old life as quickly as possible. Instead, what if we redefined success in this postpartum period? What if we celebrated the mother who stays still?

In her book, The First Forty Days, Heng Ou writes, “Somehow, a pervasive idea has spread in modern times that the mom who is out and about soonest with her baby is somehow the strongest, like an episode of Survivor. For some type-A parents, it’s almost a badge of honor to say you made it to yoga after two weeks, snuck off to the office for a meeting, or flew with your infant across time zones. But that’s all upside down. In a healthy postpartum period, it’s she who stays still that wins the prize!”

So why is it so hard for new mothers to slow down?

  1. Societal Expectations: Society often places pressure on new mothers to quickly resume their pre-pregnancy roles and responsibilities. There is an expectation that they should effortlessly manage their household, career, and social life, which can make it difficult for them to slow down and prioritize self-care.
  2. Lack of Support: Many new mothers find themselves lacking the necessary support systems. They may not have access to reliable help with childcare or household chores, which makes it challenging for them to take a break and rest. The absence of adequate support can leave them feeling overwhelmed and prevent them from slowing down.
  3. Maternal Instincts: The strong maternal instincts that arise after childbirth can make it challenging for new mothers to prioritize their own well-being. Their focus often shifts entirely to their newborn’s needs, and they may feel guilty or neglectful if they take time for themselves. This innate drive to care for their child can hinder their ability to slow down and take care of their own physical and mental health.
  4. Fear of Falling Behind: Some new mothers worry about falling behind in various aspects of their lives if they take time to slow down. They may fear losing career opportunities or being seen as less competent if they prioritize self-care. This fear can drive them to push themselves beyond their limits and resist slowing down.
  5. Personal Expectations: New mothers may have high personal expectations and a desire to be the “perfect” mother. They may put pressure on themselves to do everything and be constantly productive, which can make it difficult for them to slow down and take time for themselves.

It’s important to recognize that every new mother’s experience is unique, and these factors may vary from person to person. Supporting new mothers by providing adequate resources, understanding, and encouragement to prioritize self-care can help them overcome these challenges and find a better balance in their lives.

Resting postpartum is of utmost importance for new mothers as it allows their bodies to recover and heal after the physically demanding process of childbirth. This period of rest is essential for the mother’s overall well-being and helps prevent complications and health issues in the long run. Resting provides an opportunity for the body to restore its energy levels, repair tissue damage, regulate hormonal imbalances, and promote emotional recovery. Additionally, it allows the mother to bond with her newborn, establish breastfeeding, and adjust to the new responsibilities and challenges of motherhood. By prioritizing rest postpartum, mothers can ensure a smoother transition into their new role and better support their own health and the well-being of their child.

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