According to Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of postpartum is “occurring in or being the period following childbirth”.
I feel like this deserves some expansion, and it deserves a wee bit more of our time then just “the period following childbirth”.
Often the magic 6 week mark is what we think about. If you had a vaginal delivery then your 6 week check up is when the Doctor or Midwife makes sure all of your physical recovery look good, your mental space doesn’t appear to be horrible, and you’re off! Back to exercise, sex, and most anything else that you were doing before you squeezed a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon. Congrats!
In a conversation I was having the other day, a woman recounted a story where she watched her own mother working full time, raising children, and she had dinner on the table every night. That is what she remembered and so when it was her time to have kids that is what she assumed motherhood to be and the expectation she set for herself. At the same time she was wishing for help but felt like she shouldn’t ask for it. She felt guilty asking for help. She felt like she was drowning, and yet she didn’t want to inconvenience anyone else by asking for help.
Why do we do that to ourselves???
Society has placed this magic 6-8 week number on being postpartum, then like the magical unicorns we are, we’re supposed to *POOF* be unapologetically back as the Jaclyn-of-all-trades. It takes us over 10 months to incubate a babe to term, but then we get 6 weeks to recover. What kind of fucked up math is that? Really?
I have a point in all of this I promise, and that is being postpartum is a long term gig. Like forever. Yet this time frame is marginalized and neglected and doesn’t receive the recognition and care that it deserves. Then people wonder why mamas are overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, in chronic pain, or feeling like they are hanging on by a thread. Look no further friends, we are expecting super-heroism out of the strongest mortals and eventually even the strongest of them crack.
Ladies (And Gentlemen if you’re reading this) We deserve better then this. For ourselves, for future generations of child-bearing humans, and for the women that brought us earthside. It’s not a popular conversation, and it isn’t the easiest topic to bring up at family gatherings. But the only way we are going to see change and make it happen is by having these conversations.
I plan to start lots of them, from lots of different angles. I hope you’ll join in, I’d love to hear about other womens’ experiences during the first year of motherhood and beyond. Only by doing better can we expect something to get better. I’m on board for all of it mama, and there is space for everyone!