Please Throw Me a Postpartum Party Instead of a Baby Shower, Thanks

and

A truly useful baby shower gift after the baby’s arrival is having relatives, friends, neighbors, etc. chip in funds for hired help [like a postpartum doula] for the first one to two months.

Additionally, as this article suggests, the shower that is thrown should entail a list of family/friends who will help (with watching the baby so the new mom can get some much-needed alone time/rest/shower, picking up groceries, cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning, etc.) during the first 6 weeks postpartum.  This could include a meal plan via http://www.mealtrain.com deliveries or doing take-out and dropping the food off.

Perhaps if we focused more on ensuring new mothers have the support they need after the new baby arrives, there would be fewer instances of postpartum mood disorders!

 

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Pet Peeve Blog Post #3 on Celebrity Post-Baby Bodies

I was just browsing the Internet one last time before turning in for the evening.  I was in a relatively good mood, despite having to work late.  It took me less than an hour to get home (a record!) and just in time to watch my favorite of all television shows So You Think You Can Dance, had dinner and a can of Ballas Point grapefruit sculpin while watching the show with my husband and daughter, and looking forward to a day off tomorrow (my third day off thus far this year!).

But then I ran across an E Online article titled “Jessica Biel Debuts Her Amazing Post-Baby Body—See the First Pics!”  The words “post-baby body” used in conjunction with a celebrity peeve me just as much as sitting next to a guy who manspreads on the bus or subway.  It is annoying as ALL HECK.  I started keeping a photo journal of all the manspreading examples I come across during my commute to/from work.  So, I’ve decided to keep a journal of all the celebrity post-baby hoop-la examples as well.   LOL

Jessica Biel is one hot mama!…..she looks incredible!  Wearing a trendy full-length jumpsuit and ankle-strap heels to a local studio for some work, the new mom looked incredibly trim for having given birth in early April! She paired her summery outfit with a light beige cardigan and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, which we’re hoping she uses to celebrate how great she looks!

So, I’m going to get this off my chest right now.hcx3r

And I’m going to get my good ol’ eye roll GIF out once more to express my annoyance.

Altogether now:   WOOP DE DOO AND LA DEE DA

I am so tired of this crap.

Magazines should stop glorifying the return of a celebrity mom’s post-baby bod, as celebrities do NOT represent the norm.  Do you think new moms want to see or read about this waste of paper (if magazine) or html coding (if Internet page)?  It’s like taunting 99% of the new moms out there with a “Look, this hot mama was able to return to look incredibly trim in an amazingly short period of time.  She’s even got herself a bottle of Veuve Cliquot that we’re hoping she uses to celebrate how great she looks.  Can YOU beat that?”

Not to be mean spirited or anything, but I have a lot more important things to occupy my mind and time with than to be concerned about a celebrity’s post-baby body, thank you very much.  Why do magazines/Internet sites continue to obsess over that?  Why do the magazines/Internet sites obsess over celebrity women who have babies managing to appear as if they were never pregnant or had a baby?  Exercising to return my body as quickly as possible to my pre-baby condition was not even a blip on my radar after I had my baby.  Exercising still isn’t a blip on my radar, ten years later.  Exercise is good for the health and spirit, there’s no question of that.  But as long as the mother is taking care of herself in the way she chooses to or is able to care for herself–whether that includes exercising or not doesn’t matter–so she can properly care for her baby, that’s all that matters.

Hey, celebrities have money, hired help, personal trainers, etc., which 99% of new moms DON’T have.  Emphasizing such things doesn’t help the majority of people who live in the real world….so it brings me to the question:  Why do it at all?  Why do you keep on emphasizing the point that rich celebrities can immediately go back to their pre-baby bods?  Oh yeah, it probably has a lot to do with the fact that SIX corporations own ALL of the MEDIA in the country and if they choose to continue to be misogynistic, then no one is going to stand in their way.

This is why we need FEMINISM.  We need strong women to speak up, to challenge convention and bring about positive change for the sake of women.

We need to focus on moms getting the help they need–practical, emotional and social support in the 1-2 months following childbirth.  Click here for what really matters to help new moms, and in so doing, help reduce the occurrence of postpartum mood disorders.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again….there needs to be at least one article a month (in every magazine that has anything to do with parenting) that speaks about postpartum depression and postpartum adjustment, mothering the new mother, the fourth trimester, where to find local resources (doulas, postpartum support groups, PPD support), etc.

Let’s focus on what TRULY matters.  #MOMSMATTER

The Importance of Mothering the New Mother

Chinese call it Zou Yue.
Mexicans call it la cuarentena.
Greeks call it sarántisma.
Indians (Hindi) call it Jaappa.

Regardless of what it’s called or how long it is observed–be it 30 or 40 days–the goal is the same.  Taking care of the mother, so she can take care of her baby and get adequate sleep to recover from childbirth.

Many other countries in Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa observe a traditional mothering the new mother period.  40 seems to be a magical number, a number that has survived through the centuries and therefore has special significance….no doubt it has something to do with the fact that 40 days is the average length of time for a new mother’s body to recover from childbirth and return to a pre-pregnant state.  That is also why your OB/GYN will say to you once you’ve given birth that he will see you in 6 weeks.

The May 11th NY Times Well section included an article How to Mother a Mother by Tara Parker-Pope.  In it she talks about Claudia Kolker’s new book, The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn From Newcomers to America About Health, Happiness and Hope and how practices such as la cuarantena can help Americans (if they are willing to learn from immigrants) to achieve–just as the title says–health, happiness and hope.

Cuarentena sounds like how the word sounds in English for quarantine, or a period of isolation for illness.  The term refers to the first 40 days after childbirth in which the female family members and friends of the new mother surround her and provide her and her baby with care, so that the new mother’s only focus is on getting rest and bonding with/feeding her baby. They also help around the house and prepare meals.  Certain rituals are observed that are similar to those observed by the Chinese Zou Yue, such as the preparation of certain foods, like chicken soup, to help keep her body/system warm, as chicken is viewed as a warm food.  Foods that are considered cold, like cucumbers, are avoided.  She is to be protected from feeling overwhelmed; hence, visitors are kept away (or kept at a very minimum) during this time (this is probably how the term la cuarantena was derived).  She is told to avoid bathing for fear of catching cold.  All these rituals have the mother’s well-being in mind.  I am rather surprised to see such similarities between the Mexican and Chinese customs….after all, the countries are nowhere near each other!  In terms of breastfeeding, female family members are on hand to teach her how to do it. In these other cultures, there is no expectation that the new mother know how to breastfeed instinctively and easily.  There is a reason behind the phrase It takes a village.

Since I blogged previously about the importance of social support and how through the years we seem to have lost perspective on things when it comes to the community coming together to help a new mother who has just had a baby, I won’t repeat myself here.  What I will say is–because we can’t emphasize it enough nowadays–that getting adequate social support–comprised of both emotional support (e.g., shoulder to cry on, listening non-judgmentally) and practical support (e.g., help with breastfeeding, cleaning, errands, laundry, taking care of the baby for a few hours so mom can take a nap or shower) IS CRITICAL FOR NEW MOMS.  Having enough support during the first 4-6 weeks–until your body recovers from childbirth and your hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy state–can help keep anxiety levels down, help you get the rest you need from all the changes your body has gone through with childbirth, and minimize risk for postpartum depression.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept help from your significant other, family members and/or friends.  Before baby’s arrival, you should try to line up 4-6 weeks’ worth of live-in help from a family member (mother, mother-in-law, sister) or at minimum help with night-time feedings those first few weeks is critical in allowing you to get adequate rest.  If you don’t have any family members nearby and/or willing or able to help, you may want to consider hiring a postpartum doula, if finances allow.  The presence of a doula that is experienced in infant care can help keep anxiety levels and concerns about infant care to a minimum, and provide comfort in knowing that both you and your baby are in good hands.  Click here to learn more about postpartum doulas and how to find one near you.

I devote a chapter in my book to the importance of social support, what social support entails, how to go about ensuring you get adequate support in your first postpartum weeks, postpartum rituals in various countries, and postpartum support services in this country (including support groups like Santa Barbara Postpartum Education for Parents, as well as doulas)–and unfortunate lack thereof and the trend of having postpartum doulas fill the void in support for new mothers.  I have Sally Placksin’s book Mothering the New Mother to thank for educating and inspiring me to write about social support in my own book and every chance I can get.

I started writing this blog post on Monday (late at night after my daughter went to bed), lost gas quickly and stopped.  I started it up again on Tuesday (late at night, again after my daughter went to bed) and lost gas quickly (the result of a combination of a long, stressful day and aging).  On Wednesday, I had a lovely time catching up with a good friend over dinner so I didn’t get a chance to write at all.  Just today, I happened to stumble across a website/blog named Mother Love Postpartum Doula Services that just recently linked up to me by way of its blogroll.  Thank you, Liz, for linking to my blog!    She happens to touch on the postpartum rituals I touch on in this post.  What fortuitous timing, as I just needed to finalize the post…and voila, I’m hitting the Publish button….now!