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Postpartum & the power struggle between physiology & pre-established sociocultural norms.

THIS BLOG WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE THRIVING MAMA VILLAGE PAGE ON JULY 2, 2020. THE BLOG HAS NOW MOVED TO THE MAIN MILK & OIL CO PAGE. SOME EDITS MAY HAVE TAKEN PLACE.

Postpartum is becoming a hot topic but you gotta do it right. Instagram right. Trust me, I know, I probably lose more followers than the ones I get, just because I keep "yapping" about the same old subject In a direct way.


But at the same time, real postpartum is a topic that for mysteriously fascinating reasons is almost tabu.


Don’t discuss postpartum. Don’t talk about postpartum. Don’t try to change the status quo of postpartum. Don't interfere with culture & tradition. It's her choice.

The biggest myth is to think postpartum professionals & doulas are looking to “make moms do as we wish”. Wrong.

We are looking to make postpartum as YOU wish.


What are your thoughts on your parents or husband or colleague who just underwent a major health procedure to run around the streets pushing heavy equipment while performing unlimited unnecessary tasks day after day just to be “out of the house”?


Would you encourage them?


Or would you recommend them to rest, take it easy, eat well, have support & help?


Postpartum is a complex & sometimes uncomfortable topic.

Pregnancy & birth, nevertheless, are an open topic where expecting parents go all-in & prepare; they buy a ton of gadgets, both necessary & unnecessary, read books & blogs & absorb more information than the brain actually needs or can handle.


Pregnancy is a time of preparation.


Birth is the big event.


Postpartum is a hush topic.

While it’s fascinating, from a sociological perspective, to analyze how & why have culture & society so successfully blocked the importance of postpartum for future maternal health; from a physiological stand point it’s worrying that something which should be so natural to comprehend, has become a topic of extreme opinions, or worse, of no interest whatsoever.


Women buy all kinds of courses & books & music & essential oils & etc for the birth. But postpartum is nothing more than some Epsom salts & a few boob gadgets, most absolutely unnecessary because without support breastfeeding tends to be more complex for a new mother. The rest is all around the baby.


Mother is forgotten.


Mother “has to walk & be operational” right after birth, I read a mom say last week.


Why?
Who said that?
Why do women need to walk & be operational so fast after giving birth?

Postpartum is a physiological response of the body to months of pregnancy & birth. Postpartum is the response to hormonal, brain plasticity, blood volume, elasticity of the joins & other changes a woman’s body had to undergo in order to create life. There’s no sociocultural component inherent to it other than the innate need of the mother for support.


There is, however, a sociocultural aspect to how we handle postpartum, & in most cases this means denying physiology & hoping everything just goes back to "normal". It is definitely important to have social contact as one of several pillars of care. But we cannot neglect the other pillars & hope the house will be standing forever. When the structure is unstable, the whole house may come down at any given time.


By simply ignoring our body’s needs, we cannot magically transform postpartum into a local tradition. Postpartum is physiological. The care that surrounds postpartum is local. But pretending postpartum is not real; it doesn’t happen to everyone; & it does not need special attention is not a local tradition we should foster anywhere in the world.


Until we don’t understand this simple fact; until we don’t comprehend how physiology cannot be denied just because it doesn’t work for us; until we acknowledge that by responding to physiological needs with norms & expectations we are closing our eyes to reality ...we shall continue to treat mothers’ physical & mental health as a sociocultural element that can be ignored as a passing fad.


While mothers’ health is seen as a negotiable tradition we embrace or not at will, we shall not advance in making women’s health issues a concern of the whole community.


When a mother is down, everything crumbles. The impact of a mother who is unwell affects the nuclear & extended family & the community. And yet, we have managed to make health a battle of the sexes. While men take any form of pain or malfunction of their body as an opportunity to claim care & attention; women accept the apparently “undeniable truth” that being functional, yet absolutely miserable, while one is unwell makes us look stronger, somehow.


It’s time we view the lack of care we demand & receive as the absolute sociocultural fail it truly is. There is nothing brave or proud on being unwell & pretend otherwise. There is nothing wondrous in ignoring one’s physiological needs. Just like one must pee when one’s bladder is full, one must heal when one has a gone through a physiological transition such as pregnancy & birth.


Yet while we continue to treat postpartum with less value than the totally unnecessary socially imposed tradition of a gender reveal party; women’s postpartum window for deep healing is closing.


Mental health issues are on the rise; breastfeeding rates are on descent; pelvic disorders remain untreated & sleep deprivation is reaching a point where women are suffering from postpartum depletion.

What follows is thyroid dysfunction, difficulty to lose weight, hormonal imbalances & chronic pain of the lower back & hips among the simplest of consequences.


While for a 20-30 year old mom this may be inconsequential at a young age, & both material & parenting style trends may tip the balance of what truly matters after birth; a mismanaged postpartum experience has physiological consequences we can attest to from as soon as the following pregnancy.


Women who have babies in their late thirties & early forties; are already branded by “geriatric” terminology so a successful pregnancy & birth is rejuvenating. So regardless of age, older mothers also choose social trends over maternal health preferences.


In Scandinavia only, statistics show that up to 37% of women take sick leave due to severe pelvic pain conditions in pregnancies. But how many take rest or receive adequate care after the birth of the baby? How many have an even more serious case of pelvic pain on consequent pregnancies? And how many take the time to heal & rest properly during postpartum?


Many women in Scandinavia are up & out for hours on end within the first 72 hours after birth. Most, are doing long walks pushing prams by the end of the first week, even the cesarean birth mothers. Why does a region with such a strong defensive reaction to pelvic pain in pregnancy does absolutely nothing for postpartum regenerative care? Culture? Social norms?


Yes, I am making a generalization & sadly I’m comfortable with it. We are not doing enough, I have repeatedly said it, I know. We are ignoring nature. I am at awe that we can disregard postpartum care & claim rights to an experience which lacks rest, warmth, nourishment & regenerative practices for the body. It’s unnatural & it goes against anything that is good for ourselves, our communities or our planet.


Healthy mothers are good for our communities. Healthy mothers are a strong element in the healing of our planet.


If we don't prioritize the natural process of repair of human mothers, how can we genuinely repair mother nature?

When we can understand that our body follows the norms of biology & nature; yet our postpartum practices are based on social constructs & cultural expectations, then we may have a chance to modify our experiences, empower our choices & take advantage of the short, yet extremely, powerful window of healing that our body has given us during the first 6 weeks postpartum.

In a fight for equality we sold the feminist movement for pennies. We needed equity, we got failed feminism: the gruesome love child of feminism goals & equal rights to beings with a different physiology (men, I’m taking about men). Here we are & how we take it back is a very tricky business because before we were strongly united as women, but today we have to fight against waves of patriarchal ways & the failed feminists who still believe men & women should be equal within a male designed structure.

To be continued…

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