Ever wondered why Postpartum is taken so lightly?, it’s because we in the US don’t have it as a general tradition. Even postpartum depression is frowned upon and most times regarded ‘hush hush’ by some mamas. There’s so much emphasis placed on pregnancy, from the constant belly rubs to numerous products for sale all geared towards baby. It seems, if you don’t give in to the constant ‘babying’ you’re not up for the job of being a mama. Heck I’ve had friends who question themselves because they think they have to have everything to get ready for baby. Postpartum on the other hand, is like no man’s land in the US, it’s the unknown. No one talks about it, I wish it was talked about more during all the baby shower festivities. It’s literally the unknown aspect of becoming a mama, it’s a daunting experience for most, you hear a lot of mamas say ‘no one told me about this’. I personally think if we had a culture or some requirement regarding postpartum care/tradition it would be regarded more highly. If employers were forced by law to make sure that mamas and baby are getting the best care and nurturing after leaving the hospital. Traditions in America are based a lot on where you or your family are from i.e your cultural heritage and of course money. If you can afford to pay for help via a Doula it’s a very different experience. I’m from a Afro – Caribbean heritage where family and family help is tradition. With my two babies, I was fortunate to have my mama and my mama in-law helping around the clock. With my first, my mama in-law lived with us for the first 2 years, come my second my mama stayed with me in the hospital every night and took time off to help out – maintaining our tradition.
So here’s why I think we’re backwards with the whole postpartum care. In some countries it’s the women in our extended families that help take care of you postpartum. Some of us don’t get along with our family members, or we live too far apart, or have no time (we say we’re busy) to care for others. In traditional Chinese, Korean, Indian and Native American culture the first month after birth is a period of resting also referred to as ‘the confinement period’ for a new mama. It’s combined with tons of care including herbal baths, massage and eating warming foods setting you up for breastfeeding.
In other parts of Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam) there’s steam bath to help the body remove toxins. New mamas in Thailand eat lots of curry prepared with coconut milk and lemon grass. In India, once home from the hospitals mamas are massaged with warm oil each day for 40 days after birth. This practice realigns tissues and ligaments, decrease postpartum bleeding and alleviate cramps. Many herbs are used to improve lactation in India. The most common is fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed, which is considered as safe both during pregnancy and lactation by WHO (World Health Organization). Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is largely used as medicinal plant and food ingredient as well. The diet of the Indian new mama is rich of nourishing soups made from lentils, nuts, raisin, lotus seeds, ghee (clarified butter). In Mexico, the ritualized interlude, or the cuarentena, goes for 40 days, or long enough for the womb to return to its place.
So we in the US have a lot of catching up to do. Whatever the ritual or tradition it’s a consensus that we mamas need tons of relief during this time more than ever. Especially now since more working women and mamas make up more of the workforce.
What’s your take on postpartum care, do you have any traditions? Comment Below!
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