There is innate humanness in the postpartum period. Welcoming life and relishing in a new world of simple pleasures is an absolute delight—little smiles, tiny hands wrapped around fingers, baby breath—and yet we whisk the time away so quickly. Our culture has an odd obsession with bouncing back after having a baby that is quite puzzling, yet grounded in our modern world.
The focus seems to shift so suddenly once our children are born. It shifts away from these gentle, yet monumental moments that deserve our attention to trying to act like nothing has even happened; almost like our bodies haven’t just grown and birthed an entire human.
I don’t think it’s our fault, I think it’s simply because we’ve been fed this lie that we should always be onto the next thing. An easy internet search will pop up dozens of results about postpartum “tips” such as easy ways to loose weight or minimize stretch marks after birth, and exercises to get our abs back; even going so far as highlighting breastfeeding as a way to burn calories instead of a way to nourish our children. Our bodies are still bleeding—quite literally giving us a bright-red signal to rest easy—and yet society is pushing us away from healing and toward more harm than good.
Motherhood is a game changer. Not only is it a shock to the system physically, but also a mental transformation. Gone are the days of carefree worry and leisurely living. So isn’t it funny that we don’t give our minds and our bodies the grace to regenerate as they should? Instead we’re rushing to get outside, thinking about when we can go out for a coffee. staring at those pre-baby clothes sitting in our closets, and wishing they would fit right away.
I fully admit falling into this trap not only as a first-time mother, but also when I birthed my second daughter. It’s only now, looking back, that I wish I had respected my body more as a new mother. I should’ve given myself the dignity I deserved to heal properly. I fell into the trap of thinking that I was superwoman if I could get out of bed and make breakfast. If I could clean the house. If I could do all the laundry. If I could start exercising again.
It’s like our society has projected on us this need to constantly be onto the next thing instead of enjoying the present moment; continually changing. Add onto it that modern consensus prides women’s bodies over our minds and it’s no wonder we’re trying to recover so quickly.
Communal care is not something that is typically explored or discussed in our modern culture, but traditionally it is the way many communities support new mothers. Often, women will rally around a new mother and encourage her physical and mental well-being, upholding her health and ensuring her and her child’s stability before even considering the thought of returning to everyday life.
There is innate beauty in slow healing with your newborn. The softness of skin-to-skin and the feeling of little breaths against your chest are things I’m sure none of us will ever want to forget. And there’s physical mending that comes from taking it slow; trying to rest when your baby rests or enjoying epsom-salt baths or nourishing foods. These things all add up and promote a postpartum life that will radiate through the years.
Companionship with family members, particularly women and other mothers, is such a biological need. We’ve been lovingly welcomed into a generational community, so we should treat it as such—a unifying and rehabilitating time.
A bounce back. A rebound. A boomerang. I’m learning to reject this ideology altogether. Admittedly it’s taking a long time (over four years into motherhood) to shift my thought process, but I’m getting there. Instead I suggest a gracefulness, an allowance, an easing into motherhood. Taking the time to truly experience the new life you’ve just created. Us mothers know that this moment in time is so fleeting. Blink once and our children are grown. It’s so important to relish the beauty of adjusting over time.
Postpartum care is critical and taking the time to heal postpartum should be the only way we try to bounce back after childbirth. We shouldn’t flatter ourselves invincible, but alternatively should see the gracefulness in patience and proper healing.
Words by Melissa Curman