I’ve always felt it’s fun to see a happily pregnant woman strolling (or waddling) along, secure in the knowledge that she is special and cherished. It’s as if, briefly, one gets to share in the miracle that is happening second by second, minutes, hours, days and weeks. I want to hold the door for her, get her a pickle or direct her to the bathroom.
When the long awaited day comes and baby is born, suddenly mom is not so special anymore; baby is. Yet how is it that we forget that the epic work of growing a baby and giving birth is an extraordinary accomplishment for which she should be recognized and celebrated? Moms should be comforted, complimented, petted and pampered; and by pampered I don’t mean just given a “push gift,” (although that is a nice bonus!)
One mom told me how hurt and resentful she felt as, having just given birth, she laid on the table and watched her husband “prancing around the room” cooing at the baby and talking to everyone else, while she still had to deliver the placenta and finish her work of giving birth. At that moment she wanted and expected her husband to be by her side, to hold her hand, maybe give her a kiss, tell her how proud and happy he is and share the joy of transitioning from couple to family.
I’ve talked to countless moms who have told me, sheepishly, guiltily and obviously ashamed (unfortunately) but all with absolute conviction, that the postpartum term of life as a new mom is made so much harder because suddenly she is secondary to the life she helped create. As one mom said “Once the baby is born everyone kind of forgets about the mom. But we need attention and help too.”
When I meet a new mom with her baby, I want to first let her know, make her aware, that she is a hero, a warrior who is brave enough to take on the awesome responsibility of caring for another human being, allowing her heart to be vulnerable in a way that only a mother’s can be. She deserves to be acknowledged as being more than just a vessel from which a new life emerged. Some cultures recognize how important it is to honor a new mom, but I’ve observed that all too often modern day life takes precedence over what should be a slow paced mom centered recovery period.
So…as much as possible, allow her and encourage her to exclusively take care of herself and her baby. They should both eat, eliminate and rest! Reassure her when she doubts herself. Remind her that she is the same person as ever, even as she is changed for ever. Make her feel special. Cheer her on for being brave enough to put a piece of her heart out into the world. Tell her and show her how amazing, and awe inspiring she is.
The days of being a mom will be defined soon enough by putting herself last as she juggles the tasks and chores of everyday life, deals with endless stretches of sleepless nights, exhaustion, tears, worries, fears, guilt. Until then, give her the gift of enjoying the postpartum term of her life.
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