Why Postpartum Support Is Critical for Healthy Moms
Becoming a mother is a life-changing event; it should also be a magnificent one. But the unbridled joy of welcoming a new life and the all-consuming responsibility of caring for a baby lead some women to neglect their own health, failing to get the needed rest and recovery following childbirth. Studies have found that when moms neglect their physical and emotional well-being during the delicate postnatal period, it can lead to infections, depression, and long-term physical side effects. The good news is that research shows that direct support in the home plays a role in decreasing postpartum depression as well as increasing the commitment to breastfeeding.
Postpartum Support Lackingfor Moms Today
In many cultures, when a woman gives birth, there is someone whose special task it is to look after her and her family’s needs. Unfortunately, current postpartum practices in our country fail to meet the needs of new parents. It was only about 100 years ago that postpartum women were encouraged to stay in bed for up to four or more weeks for what was known as the “lying-in period.” During this critical time, the new mother would rest, regain her physical strength, and bond with her new baby while female attendants would take care of her household needs. The practice of lying in and the social support network that enabled it disappeared during the 19th century. Today American women are often expected to return to their household duties and/or work outside the home shortly after having given birth—a practice that’s not only unnatural but can also be exhausting for new parents who need to reserve their energy to adapt to the rhythms of a new baby. While American postpartum practices lack in caring for new moms, most of the world (including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe) have some version of a lying in period to encourage healing, rest and protect the precious bonding period.
Planning for Postpartum Support
The time after birth can and should be one of the richest and most fulfilling times in a woman’s life. If a new mother understands and plans for her postpartum needs, she will be in the best position to enjoy this special time. We have found that supporting moms by taking on the burden of housework and family chores allows them to focus on recovering and bonding with their babies. Planning for postpartum care prior to delivery is as important as choosing your pediatrician. If you are fortunate enough to have family and access to help, you may want to set up a schedule in which people will visit to help with household duties and to bring you meals. If you do not have family nearby or like many are more comfortable hiring an in-home care provider, there are services that will work with you to create a plan for help with cooking, cleaning, errands and other household duties as well as toddler care and even overnight care. If money is a concern, you can register for a postpartum support package for your baby shower.
Chandra Lattig founded Care For Moms in 2014 to provide postpartum support for parents in the early and ongoing days of parenthood so that they may experience intrinsic joy rather than
uncertainty and exhaustion. Visit CareForMoms.com.