Birth Is About Becoming A Mother
Meeting your newborn is such a precious time both for new parents and the whole family. However, I believe that birth is not only about welcoming newborns to a life, but also welcoming newborn mothers on your new journey!
Gizem says, ‘birth is also about welcoming newborn mums on your new journey!’
No matter how wonderful or difficult a birth experience you might have, most new mums need more than 6 weeks to fully recover following the birth. This is simply because both physically and emotionally, it will take time to adapt to parenthood.
During this journey, it’s important to remind ourselves that we don’t have super powers, and that we’re not required to do everything by ourselves.
Have you ever wondered about cultural practices that take place during the postnatal period? I’ve noticed that in some cultures we still see the trace of ancient traditions applied to the postpartum period.
The Case For Traditional Care Systems For The Postpartum Mother
Let’s start with Latin culture. They created the “cuarentena” which is the 40-day rest period after the mother has given birth to her child. Women tend to cover their heads and wear cotton swabs in their ears and follow a very healthy diet.
In India, there is the 40-day resting period known as “JA Appa”. A special diet is given to the mother to produce milk and she is excused from her daily chores.
Similar to these, in Asian cultures such as China, South Korea, and Vietnam, their customs involve postpartum confinement referred to as ”the sitting month”. Confinement lasts up to 30 days and the mothers are given certain foods, such as seaweed soup in Korea. Whereas in China, they serve postpartum mothers a delectable soup of pork knuckles and ginger. It’s believed that these foods will help heal injuries and contracting lactation.
Finally, in Turkey, new mums are expected to only nurture their babies, to rest and to eat special foods. During the first 40 days, this period is called ‘Lohusalik,’ and most often the mother’s mum or relatives will do the house work and cook for the family to aid mum.
The Common Trend Amongst Cultural Traditions
As you can see, there are different traditions in their respective cultures. So what’s the trend between cultures?
The common theme amongst them all however, is the prevalence of a support system during the first few weeks. Even more importantly, this tradition is continually instilled on the next generation to come.
Unfortunately for new mums outside of these cultures, it’s becoming more and more apparent that these customs are disappearing. The emphasis of rest and assistance is being seen less and less. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that new mums have enough support and help to ease the transition during their motherhood journey.
The Importance Of Having The Right Support
Many experts agree that one of the most important things about this new journey for mums is how to feed their babies. Whether you decide to breastfeed, bottle feed or formula feed, all new mums need a healthy diet for a healthy recovery.
Without a doubt, additional nutrients must be included for breastfeeding mums. Even before the birth, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the necessary information about breastfeeding. From latching and boosting supply, to more difficult situations such as mastitis and tongue-tie, this information is crucial and it’s important we continue to expand the public discussion on these topics.
You should also note that it’s vital to double check with your health professional before using herbs or natural remedies, as some of the well-known milk booster remedies such as fenugreek aren’t suitable for every mum. Breastfeeding is a constant learning process both for mums and babies. Remind yourself that it will take time.
You can expect that each week your baby will go through a new experience or phase, that will once again change your rhythm and patterns.
To find out more about these phases, there is a great book and app called ‘The Wonder Weeks’. This app helps parents prepare what to expect in each stage. Sometimes, if something suddenly goes wrong with breastfeeding, it is worth a read about their mental development. They may be too busy to learn everything that exists outside of the womb!
Perhaps most important of all, we must highlight to new mothers that help is out there! Unfortunately the services so valuable to your new mum support network can be hard to find or connect with, so do your best to ask and push for answers.
During the postpartum process, family and friends are not the only support option. There are other options, funds permitting, such as maternity nurses, doulas, and mother helpers that can offer you valuable support.
All of this made me think, there needs to be more help and support available to expectant and new mums. Not only on how to care for their babies but also how to care for themselves, both physically and emotionally during the postpartum period.
A Support Circle For New and Postpartum Mothers
Inspired by my own experiences as a mother, and my continued studies and research, I created ‘the Maternity Circle’, an early days parenting advisory service. Classes will start soon in both St Albans and London so please stay tuned! For more information and to stay updated, follow Gizem at The Maternity Circle and on Facebook.
Read More: A Day In The Life Of A Pregnant Nanny
Gizem’s inspiration for supporting new parents came from her experience as a new mother. When she had her son nearly 2 years ago, she was fortunate to be surrounded by great professionals, family and friends! For her, having the right information and support in the postnatal period made a huge difference and helped her to overcome some key challenges. Since then her energy has been focused on studying and researching postnatal care for new parents, child nutrition, breastfeeding and weaning to help prepare and support new parents on their own journey.