Cultures around the world recognize and honor the precious first months a new mother has to heal after having a baby. Traditions include providing a new mother with food, warmth, a clean house, and emotional support. Basically, the idea is that new mom doesn’t have to do anything other than eat, feed her baby, sleep and recover.
However, in the United States, it is typical for a woman to feel she is expected to take care of herself, her baby, have a spotless house, entertain guests, and on and on, let alone take time to heal. Sadly, the notion of having help to make dinner, clean dishes and look after baby so mom can use the bathroom sounds like a luxury for many American women.
In the absence of having a dedicated person around to help, here are some things you can do to help create a healthy and fulfilling fourth trimester experience:
- Be gentle with yourself. Disregard the preconceptions around having to look or act a certain way and allow yourself the care and self-love you need to heal
- Be mindful about connecting with your baby now and throughout their life. This is good for you and for your baby
- Ask friends, neighbors and family if they’d be willing to provide practical support to you in the form of coming over to help you for an hour here and there (not to be entertained and play with your baby). For example, someone can drop off a warm meal, spend an hour cleaning up, do a load of laundry. Let everyone know that you’ll be available to entertain guests and share baby time later after the initial recovery period is over
- Write down all the “to do” items on your list and relax knowing that you can do all of them later, after you’ve recovered
Lisa Chin had a fourth trimester experience rich with Chinese tradition. Her mother flew to the United States from China to spend a month caring for her. Lisa shares her experiences with us in Episode 16, talking about culture differences, the relationship between mother care and lifelong health, and the effort she is making to help new parents create a better postpartum experience for themselves.
Regardless of your own cultural background, we encourage you to take what you want from examples, and to make your own traditions. Take care of yourself and know that you don't have to do anything just because of an expectation. Feel free to pick and choose what you like from traditions and modern recommendations that align with your world view.
Lisa has created a collection of videos with specialists contributing their thoughts on fourth trimester health and well-being. Lisa is our guest on Episode 16 and we welcome you to find out more about her Fourth Trimester Summit and the related group on Facebook.
Listen to Lisa’s episode here: