My wife just had our second child a month ago and after a week I asked her, how do you feel? She looked at me and said, “Strange, it’s like I feel in a whole completely different body.” Obviously, as a dad I cannot understand this, so I asked one of our experts, Rebecca, to talk about more about ‘The Newborn Mother.’
When we think about pregnancy and birth much of the focus is on the new life that is about to enter our world, the baby! And for the parents and those around them, this new person is likely the most important, and in many aspects rightly so. However, I want to speak up about another new person.. the new mother! Our society, unlike more traditional cultures, often forgets about the newborn mother.
Who is the newborn mother?
The new mother finds herself in a new body, one that has grown and sustained her baby but may now leave her feeling a bit stretchy and squishy. The uterus has done some pretty amazing work in growing and birthing a baby. It went from the size of a pear (pre-pregnancy) to a watermelon (9months pregnancy) so it takes a few weeks for the uterus to get back to its original size and location. And it’s not just the uterus doing the work, the breasts, maybe sore and uncomfortable in the first days and weeks after birth. The body may also be healing some scar tissue from a c-section or perineal tear.
On top of all this there are the demands of a newborn baby, who needs carrying, holding, and feeding, which all has its due course on a newborn mothers’ sleep and back!
These are just the physical components, as the moment a woman becomes a mother her world changes, her prime concern is now her child and this is a large mental load and change. For those who already have other children, the concern becomes managing to meet the needs of all of one’s children, as well as the relationship between the children themselves.
What does the newborn mother need?
Following on from who the new mother is, it comes as no surprise that the needs of the newborn mother are many. Primarily rest, good nutrition and someone to listen and be there for her. Not every mothers’ needs will be the same, however, a good support system of friends and family who are available to help her is invaluable. However, relatives very often have their own ideas of help in mind. Only the mother knows her own individual needs, however, some ideas would be home-cooked meals, helping around the house, listening without giving unwanted advice, watching the baby while she showers or sleeps. One of the most important persons with her in this journey will be the father/partner of the baby, who themselves will be experiencing a change in the family dynamic. There is a special role that only a woman’s partner can fill, and this involves much more than changing nappies (although this too will go a long way in supporting the new mum!). One should be ensuring the new mother is taking care of herself, keeping hydrated, eating regularly and resting when she can. The new parents may not feel comfortable sharing their baby with the outside world at the very beginning, and this is very normal, don’t insist on visiting them and their new bundle of joy until they themselves feel ready.
What about today’s society?
The Western culture generally pushes a new mother back to her routine, back to social gatherings, back into work and even back into her pre-pregnancy jeans! Not every woman will be ready for this at the same time and each woman’s transition and the journey will be different, some may not even want to go back. When we take a look at more traditional cultures a rest period is prescribed, very often that of 40days or more. Together with this comes traditional nurturing, remedies and healing foods, often provided by the mothers’ closest female relatives.
Our society tends to put a lot of focus on the mother during pregnancy with parties such as baby showers, prenatal classes and massages etc.. which is all well and good, but.. how often have you been invited to join a meal train for a friend who’s just given birth (were each friend provides a home-cooked meal in the weeks after birth)? how often do you hear of the Mexican healing of rebozo closing of the bones? how often have you turned up at the hospital to visit a close relative who’s just given birth with a basket of fruit as opposed to a gift for the baby? How often have you opted to hug the mother and not ask to hold the baby? Its all food for thought and I hope this has given you another way of looking at welcoming a new person to the world because in fact there are 2- a new baby and a newborn mother! (of course a newborn father as well… but I will leave that for the next blogpost)
Thank you, Rebecca, for this amazing article and giving some advice to help parents and relatives involved!
Stay tuned for her next blog post 😉