In our day and age (and specifically the American culture) we treat birth as something that is no big thing. It happens everyday and can be managed with medication. But it IS a big deal!! From the perspective of the woman doing the laboring and giving birth to the baby it is a rite of passage into motherhood. She be will stretched emotionally, physically, and spiritually in the act of giving birth and in the following months!
Motherhood – It’s a rite of passage
The following article phrased it so well:
“So, what can we do to convey to a woman that birth is a tremendous rite of passage for the mind, body and soul? To let her know that when she gives birth, she will be fighting a battle of sorts, trying to hold on one breath at a time. That she will be tested in ways she never knew existed. That she will go into labor one woman and come out a different one. That she will be taken to an alternate universe with only her connected baby as her companion. That fear doesn’t serve labor. That when the tremendous act of giving birth cannot be managed by the heart, soul and mind of a birthing mother, the body is fighting an uphill battle.
How do we convey these more realistic messages to women without scaring the pants off of them and causing the fear that we’re actually trying to help them let go of?”
The article goes on to talk about 6 amazing ways we can help a new mother prepare for motherhood. You should definitely read it.
Blessingway – One of the ideas is holding a Blessingway for the new mom. A Blessingway is much more intentional that the traditional baby shower (though my own baby shower I did feel lots of support in). Here is a pretty good description of what it could look like.
Candle circle – This idea I absolutely LOVED! I instigated this happening for one of my friends’ births. When the mother goes into labor, all the soon-to-be-mom’s close girlfriends are notified. Each one then lights a candle for her until she makes it out to the other side and gives birth. This can provide amazing strength and connection for a birthing mama – knowing that her friends and family are holding a space for and honoring her.
She can take this a step further and have her own candle at the birth as a reminder of the other candles flickering for her. This is a great visual reminder and can also be a great focus for the mom through each contraction (at least it was for me!).
New Mom = Lots of Rest
If you are pregnant with your first, I’m sure you’ve heard it, “You better rest up now because when the baby comes…” They trail off, but you know what they are intending to say.
Well, after my little one was born I WAS able to get some rest because I was surrounded by others (mainly my husband) willing to help out. He had almost two full weeks off work. So, for that time all I worried about was resting, eating and drinking LOTS of water, feeding the baby and making sure the baby was sleeping. For our little one, he had no trouble whatsoever sleeping. Breastfeeding, on the other hand was a struggle (I’ll talk about it more in a future post). We had meals brought over, my husband served me dinner and cleaned up. I did a lot of resting in bed or on the couch.
The way I just described my first two weeks postpartum was how Colonial Americans thought it should be for a woman for 3-4 weeks postpartum. It was called the “lying in” period, and the new mother would just rest and bond with the baby. Many other women were tasked to do the rest of the needed work. (source)
It took me until 3-4 weeks postpartum that I could take a short walk without too much exhaustion and pain afterwards (I did have a small episiotomy). Four weeks postpartum was a turning point of feeling more like I knew what I was doing, and I had more energy. At 7 weeks postpartum was another turning point – I could walk at “normal” speed. Then, at 10 1/2 weeks postpartum I felt completely back to my pre-pregnancy days, in just about every way (except that I still had a pooch)!
I’ll be talking more about my birth tomorrow, but feel free to read my birth story in the meantime!
Tomorrow I’m going to talk about how “a healthy baby is NOT all that matters in birth”.
Other Must-Reads on this Topic:
Check out these postpartum traditions in other cultures – such as wrapping the belly to provide warmth and support!
A Candid List of Things to do in the last weeks of Pregnancy – yes, I did make the “padsicles” she talked about. Those are a MUST! (Although this is the recipe I used.)
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