All across the world cultures practice the tradition of ‘lying in’ where a new mother is looked after for between ten to forty days after the birth. She is relieved of household responsibilities, fed nourishing foods, massaged and expected to do nothing but rest and get to know her baby. It’s a far cry from this bouncing back and getting on with it that has become normalised in our culture.
In Japan there is the custom that a woman stays with her family for the month after giving birth and may also stay in bed for 21 days so she can focus on bonding with her baby.
In Mexico it is tradition for a woman’s female relatives to look after her for the first forty days helping with cleaning, cooking, and looking after older children for example so that the only thing a new mother needs to focus on is looking after her baby.
China and Malaysian have the tradition of lying in where mother and baby stay at home for the first forty days.
These are just a few of the cultural traditions around the postnatal period from a round the world but at the centre of all of them is the idea of putting the mother first and her only job being to rest and look after her baby.
I know it might feel unrealistic and indulgent to say that you're going to stay home and not pick up the hoover for several weeks. There's too much to do, life goes on. There are messages to respond to, meals to cook, laundry to do, bills to pay and perhaps even older children that need you.
Your body undergoes an incredible transformation over the nine months that you grow and sustain your baby. Once you’ve done the amazing work of birthing your baby, your body will change once again and deserves rest and nourishment so it can recover.
We also live in an increasingly isolated society, but new mothers do not thrive in isolation. You need a village. That village might be made up of your partner, your family and friends. It might mean investing in a postnatal doula so that you have the support you need so that you have the start to motherhood that you deserve.
It is crucial that a new mother focus on looking after herself during this time. I’ve come up with the term ‘mothermoon’ to draw attention to this.
Research has found that in cultures that have ritual and customs that support new mothers are:
- at a reduced risk of developing postnatal mood issues
- more likely to establish and continue breastfeeding
- more confident in their role as a mother and caring for their baby
In order to be able to think about what your mothermoon might look like, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what life after birth might be like. This is why I’ve developed The Mothermoon Workshop.
The workshop explores what to expect physically and emotionally in the days and weeks after giving birth, your baby’s experience of transitioning from the womb to the world and what you need nutritionally to help you make sure you’re filling your body with nourishment to help support your recovery. It also covers how to write your postnatal plan.
No two women or babies experience the postnatal period in the same way. However, by having an idea of what to expect, you can begin to think about what support you might need. Some things can be planned for while others are unknown until after your baby arrives. Having a plan will help you feel more prepared and give you the best chance of having the start to motherhood that you deserve.
My next south east London Workshop is taking place on Sunday 22 April at Space@61 and it’s the last one until the autumn.
For more info and to book your spot: https://billetto.co.uk/e/mothermoon-workshop-tickets-271684
To find out more about Sarah - https://www.sarahtessier.com or follow her on Instagram