The modern woman is empowered, strong, and able to take on anything. Perhaps this is why we are seeing more and more women who fully expect—and even go so far as to force themselves—to “bounce back” immediately after giving birth.
These women want to return to “normal” the moment they see their sweet newborn’s face, but the truth of the matter is people simply aren’t meant to do this. Giving birth is a big, beautiful, and life-changing event, and it absolutely must be treated as such.
Nobody would expect a person to be present in the office the day after their mother died, nor would anyone expect their body to feel 100% right after running a marathon or having surgery. The same respect, space, and recovery time should be given to a woman who just gave birth. After all, the emotional, mental, and physical toll pregnancy and childbirth take on a body are above and beyond nearly anything else we might go through in our lifetimes.
Of course, knowing this is one thing, while implementing the idea is another thing entirely. Our society most certainly isn’t built around offering new mothers everything they need and deserve, and that isn’t going to change without some pretty strong pushes in the right direction.
The good news is, we can make those pushes starting right away!
Emotionally and Mentally
Having a baby is hugely emotional. What could be bigger or more incredible than bringing a new life into the world?
All throughout pregnancy, a woman’s hormone levels are altered, and immediately after birth, she is flooded with a whole new set of hormones. Handling all of this emotional and mental input is overwhelming in the best of circumstances, and attempting to do so while the stresses of everyday life continue to loom is likely to lead to depression and breakdowns.
How can we fix this issue? The answer to this one is simple, really. If you’re an expectant mama, plan to take a break from life and everything it tends to throw your direction for a few weeks after baby is born. Inform your support system of your plan and try to line people up to help out as much as possible. Use this time to focus on you, your baby, and the new dynamic of your growing family.
Those who are not having a baby—but are involved in the lives of women who are—can help by offering assistance in the weeks following a birth. Take older children out on a playdate, make a few dinners for the family, and just generally make yourself available without expecting anything in return.
For many people, their career is incredibly important. They can’t imagine life without it. It’s what puts food on the table, but more than that, it’s what gives them a sense of purpose and importance.
This is totally understandable, and a 100% valid feeling to have. That said, it’s important that new mamas realize their careers can survive for a few weeks while they take some extra time to connect with their little ones, heal their bodies and minds, and process everything that’s new in their lives.
If you’re a pregnant woman, you can avoid feeling as though you need to bounce right back into your career by lining things up before you head out. Hire a temporary replacement if needed, tie up any loose ends, and work ahead on everything you possibly can. In the weeks postpartum, try not to check email or your phone. If you must stay in touch with work, do so by checking email only once or twice a week.
Employers can help with this by encouraging new mamas to stay home for 5 or 6 weeks after baby comes. Help them get everything lined up, pick up the extra slack if need be, and offer paid maternity leave if at all possible.
The thing many new mothers struggle with most is embracing their new body. Far too many mamas expect everything to jump right back where it started as soon as baby is born. Unfortunately, this just isn’t how it works.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body changes dramatically and slowly. Organs move, skin stretches, and her breasts may change sizes and shape. While those internal organs do slowly move back to their original positions, it’s possible that some mothers will never get rid of their stretch marks, re-attain the same shaped body or breasts they once had, or lose the saggy skin.
This may seem tragic to some, but in reality it’s perfectly okay, and those small changes are simply reminders of the amazing thing the body bearing them was able to do.
Those of you who will be having babies in the near future, keep this in mind in the days and weeks postpartum and try to embrace and appreciate your new look. Remember that your body is incredible, and treat it well. By using patience, eating right, exercising, and taking care of yourself, you will slowly find the very best version of your new physical appearance.
Everyone reading who is not having a baby, always remember that a new mother’s body doesn’t bounce back immediately. Be kind and supportive with your words and help the mamas in your life learn to love themselves just the way they are.
If we as a society can realize that birth is a huge deal and no mother is going to bounce back immediately, we will take an enormous amount of stress off of new mothers. Let’s start taking steps in that direction and hopefully give the moms and babies around us a chance to enjoy their first few weeks together without worry of when things will be back to normal.
Looking for help making sure your first weeks postpartum are as healing and relaxing as they should be? A postpartum doula might be just the thing. Contact us today for more information.