We may never get the social postpartum revolution we need.
How does that sound to you? Does it put a heaviness in your heart like it does mine?
We may never see women acting like they deserve to rest after birth.
Why? What could possibly keep us back from what so much of the rest of the world takes for granted?
For one, most people (and I’m talking about the general public… you know… your mother’s generation) can’t accept that the majority of the world takes 3-6 weeks for new mothers to recover. Lots of people believe that women all over the world give birth in a ditch, tie their newborn babies to their backs, and pick their tools back up to keep working.
And when you try bringing up countries like India, China, Guatemala, and even the Colonial US that give us great examples of how postpartum healing is integrated into society, they just brush you off as if it’s the exception, like it couldn’t possibly be an example for anything we might do.
Secondly, a lot of folks have a fundamental issue with the concept of paid family leave, you know, the thing that makes it possible for your partner to NOT have to go back to work a week after your baby is born. I read it all the time in the comments:
Well, *****I***** didn’t have a baby!! Why should ******I****** pay for it??!?!
WELL… Since you already pay for things like public schools, Head Start, and WIC, presumably based on the premise that the next generation of adults is worth investing in whether they’re yours or not, I don’t see what the issue is.
Furthermore, any company worth working for should be more than happy to provide this basic service to its employees (like Google, Netflix, and anything in the state of California) because they know that not only does it increase employee satisfaction and retention, it also has little to no effect on their bottom line.
And the third reason why we might not ever get a period of rest and healing after birth is because underneath all our desires to heal and bond with our babies, and our knowing that this is something that could affect how we mother for the next few years, we don’t believe in our cores that we deserve it.
We hear our mothers-in-law praise their daughters for bouncing back quickly. We hear our bosses ask us how soon we’ll be able to come back.
So when we’re pregnant, we start sucking up those desires and intuitions about what we’ll need and start mentally preparing for survival. For finding nourishment in the crumbs of what might be given to us instead of taking a position on what we want and making a plan for it.
Do we have a fighting chance at creating a social institution in the US that allows us to heal from the ordeal of pregnancy and birth, bond with our babies, and adjust to parenting so that we can function WELL in society?
Maybe. But a few things are necessary.
We have to start claiming our time and our deservingness for Postpartum Lying-in. We have to start treating recovering after birth as non-negotiable. We have to start acting in ways that say, “This is important to us and we will find a way”, that display an inner resolve rather than resignation.
We have to start talking about postpartum recovery like it’s the new normal.
And we have to start setting an example for what this looks like, which means we actually need to make a plan. This is what I teach in Bliss After Birth, but even folks who aren’t ready for a total makeover for the first six weeks postpartum can set themselves up by doing simple things like setting up a meal train, talking to their partners, and gathering their supplies for lying-in before their births.
It pains me to think that we won’t ever see a time where most families get the recovery after birth they deserve. That women will still be going back to work two weeks after having their babies. That breastfeeding rates will continue to be low, that maternal and infant mortality rates in the US will continue to be a national embarrassment.
It pains me because we deserve better.
If you are on board with creating a better postpartum experience, my 7-Day Postpartum Nourishment course is here to serve. Seven lessons on postpartum recovery over seven days, for free, just for you.