Your best friend from college, a coworker, cousin, neighbor, whomever, just had a baby and you are bursting with excitement and DYING to go soak up all the new baby cuddles. Has this ever been you? I know I surely have been in this position, multiple times. How many of us have stopped to think, is it really best for baby and mama to have a visitor right now? Unless you are coming with a cooler full of food or are prepared to do dishes AND laundry AND may not even get to hold the baby while you are visiting, my answer is HECK NO! Here’s why.
Are you aware that after childbirth a woman’s body needs at least two weeks of strict rest to set her up on a proper road to recovery, no matter how she delivered the baby? The golden rule is 5 days IN the bed, then 5 days ON the bed, then 5 days AROUND the bed. The pelvic floor of a woman’s body that stretches enough to carry and birth a baby is also the same pelvic floor that holds up basically all of your internal organs. This means that if this anatomy doesn’t have the opportunity to mend from the tremendous feat of birthing new life, mama is atomically predisposed to a whole bunch of health conditions that will plague her for the rest of her life. Conditions like bowel and bladder incontinence, painful sex, organ prolapse, severe PMS and even increased likelihood of a problematic menopause. That mama is literally compromising her health for her visitors. And those are just the physical implications.
Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, this new mama is going through changes equivalent to no other period in her life. All over the world and in most other cultures, a woman’s transition into motherhood is a sacred experience. This transition has many names depending on what part of the globe you are in; Lying In. The First Forty Days. The Sacred Window. The Sitting Moon. What doesn’t vary, except if you are in America, is the reverence for rest, support, nourishment and love that this new mother needs.
Really what difference is it to you if you hold a 5 day old baby or a 5 week old baby? Chances are mama and baby would enjoy the visit exponentially more at the 5 week mark. So, I challenge you, eager visitor, when reaching out to that new mama instead of arranging a visit ASAP, figure out what her favorite soup is and drop it off at her doorstep. Encourage her to stay in bed that day and off her feet. Remind her that the best thing for both her and baby right now would be to stay cuddled up getting to know each other without interruption, if that is what she wants. Just imagine the impact, if collectively, we all did our part to contribute positively to new mothers’ postpartum experiences instead of reinforcing a culture of instant gratification and consumerism. I think it is safe to say we would see a decrease in postpartum mood disorders and an increase in women’s enjoyment of the postpartum time.