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Article

Returning to the Lost Art of Caring for a New Mother

Friday, November 3rd 2023 10:00am 7 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Picture a scenario where, following childbirth, you’re given the opportunity to simply rest and bond with your newborn for an extended period, possibly a month or more. During this time, caring family members handle cooking, cleaning, and assist in caring for your baby. You’re pampered with warm baths infused with healing herbs and soothing hot teas. Experienced and compassionate women are present to provide valuable maternal advice and guidance, particularly concerning breastfeeding and newborn care challenges. Throughout this period, you, the new mother, are treated with utmost tenderness and reverence. Your environment is kept tranquil and serene. As the weeks pass, you gradually gain the confidence and strength to reintegrate into the outside world, sharing your joy and your newborn with others.

It may be surprising, but the practice of setting aside a considerable period of thirty days, forty days, or even longer for postpartum recovery is a widely observed tradition globally, with roots stretching back thousands of years. Ancient wisdom, as found in various cultural texts, emphasizes the importance of nourishing and rejuvenating a new mother through practices like massages, therapeutic baths, specialized diets, and herbal remedies designed to promote vitality and safeguard against infections.

The concept of cherishing and supporting mothers during the postpartum phase is not limited to any particular culture or era. Numerous societies, from various corners of the world, have comparable customs and rituals. These practices, spanning from Asia to Latin America, involve family, friends, and knowledgeable individuals collaborating to pamper both the mother and the newborn. This includes tender herbal-infused baths, gentle massages with nurturing oils, and the preparation of nourishing foods. While the specifics of these customs differ across cultures, they share common traits: warmth, healing properties, rich in essential nutrients, and easily digestible. Many of these foods are meticulously chosen for their capacity to aid organ healing, boost lactation, and provide essential nourishment.

In stark contrast, what we might refer to as “modern” times often present a different narrative in Western societies. Here, women are often pressured to rapidly recover from childbirth, both physically and emotionally. Paid maternity leave might be insufficient or unavailable, and extended family support might be lacking due to distance or other constraints. Even well-intentioned partners may not entirely grasp the profound physiological and emotional changes brought about by childbirth.

As a result, new mothers might find themselves feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. While their newborns receive attention and care, the mother’s own needs can go unmet amid the significant lifestyle adjustments and sleep deprivation that come with motherhood. Feeling exhausted in the initial weeks becomes commonplace, and without proper care, the chance for adequate rest and nourishment might slip away during what should be a cherished period of bonding with the newborn.

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