Today we put so much emphasis on childbirth preparation and the labor and deliver. But then we expect life to go back to normal quickly after our babies are born. Today, I want to highlight that postpartum matters as we talk about the importance of a “babymoon.”
Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to get ready for a new baby? So much excitement and joy in the preparation.
Childbirth classes done? Check!
New baby diapers ready? Check!
Baby clothes in drawers? Check!
New gown for me after birth? Check!
Childcare arranged for the other children? Check!
Book chosen for me to enjoy during my babymoon? Check!
Wait, did I just say babymoon? Yes, why yes, I certainly did! With each of my 8 children, I have enjoyed a babymoon for the few weeks following the delivery of my newborn. My husband, my mom, my older children, or any other help we had arranged continued with the household running, while I had a restful recovery time. Did I feel guilty at all? Not one bit! You see I was serving my family iin taking this necessary time. Let me explain a bit more about why postpartum matters.
We have a missing link in our culture which needs to be brought to the forefront of our minds when it comes to postpartum in childbirth. It is the old practice of the mothers “Lying-In.” From Wikipedia
Lying-in (or confinement) is an old childbirth practice involving a woman having a period of bed rest in the postpartum period, i.e. after giving birth. It referred to a period of bed rest required even if there were no medical complications. A 1932 publication refers to lying-in as ranging from two weeks to two months. It also does not suggest “Getting Up” (getting out of bed post-birth) for at least nine days and ideally for 20 days. Care was provided either by her female relatives (mother or mother-in-law), or, for those who could afford it, by a temporary worker called the monthly nurse.
Did you catch that? Care was provided by the family for the running of the household or a hired temporary worker called the monthly nurse. In today’s terms that would be a doula. In many cultures postpartum matters, but for some reason in our culture it is forgotten.
What was the reason for this babymoon? Was it a luxury for a different time? I think not. If you notice it was for those even that did not have medical complications. Giving birth is a marvelous and wonderful experience but it also event for your body to go through physically, not to mention the hormone changes and shifting that occur over the first few weeks postpartum. When you give birth your placenta detaches from the uterus. This placenta is roughly the size of a dinner plate (yes!) and leaves a wound inside your uterus of that same size that must heal. We may feel wonderful, full of energy and of no need for rest, but the rest is needed still the same. Postpartum matters!
I was blessed to have a midwife that early in my parenting days highlighted this. Her rule was:
~ Week one: In bed with baby in PJ’s with brief visits out to the couch. Only responsibility is to care for baby. Sleep when baby sleeps.
~ Week two: Dressed but still in recliner out with the rest of the family. Only responsibility is to care for baby. Sleep when baby sleeps.
~ Week three: Dressed and resuming light duties such as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Resting and putting feet up as much as possible.
~ Week four: Resuming normal duties except for heavy jobs like vacuuming.
~ Week five: Same as week four.
~ Week six: All duties can be resumed.
Don’t think you can do this? Do you think this is taking it a bit too far? You will need to find what works for your family but, I personally think it is a duty for our bodies as well as our families. Did you know how you care for yourself now will affect you in your later childbearing years and as you go into menopause? We need to care for ourselves so that we can be strong for our children and families later on!
In our society, we actually pride ourselves on how quickly we can go back to work, back to running everything, and “bounce back”. It is considered being strong and like “wonder-woman.” But what if we are actually missing out on God-give rest? Here are several benefits of a babymoon and why I believe postpartum matters.
- This is a time when mama can focus 100% on her baby. Both mama and baby need this bonding time. Close skin to skin, lots of breastfeeding, snuggling and loving are so wonderful in this time. There is nothing like that first week of life together.
- This is a time to establish breastfeeding. What sweetness for there to be undistracted closeness as both baby and mama get used to this new relationship and the milk comes in. This is a time which can help prevent mastitis which can come from not enough rest and engorgement.
- This is a time when your family learns to cherish you as the mother and show their tenderness to both mama and baby. This is a time when the family is quieter, the household is slower, and the “settling in” of even the siblings getting used to their new baby occurs.
- This is a time when it’s important for the baby to be shielded from outside germs as their little immune system is getting established. Visitors can be monitored and there is more control over what the newborn is exposed to.
- This is a time when mama can actually recharge to avoid burnout later. She feels rested, refreshed and cared for and can resume her duties with new energy.
I hope that this encourages you that a babymoon is not a selfish practice at all. On the contrary, a babymoon is a blessed gift from God for both you and your family!
Think that it’s impossible for you to be able to experience this? Let us help you at Upstate Family Doula Services with our wonderful postpartum packages. Your body, your baby, and your family will thank you!