Words by Christy
Our culture in the UK is very much geared towards celebrating the new baby and has a tendency to forget about the brand-new mother. From our friends across the pond in the USA, we are slowly but surely adopting with increasing popularity, the baby shower in pregnancy, in which presents are brought for the baby and nursery etc, sometimes games are played such as guess the tummy circumference, guess the gender and or weight. It’s very much centred on the excitement of the impending new addition, and on the whole (bar the odd basket of smellies or a gifted massage) tends to ignore the mother’s needs.
Once the baby has arrived we don’t seem to do much better. Visitors flock thick and fast soon after the birth, the aim of congratulating the parents, bringing cuddles and more presents for the new baby and very often expecting to be waited on by the new parents. They might ask how the birth went but they don’t want the details in all their glory. Some may bring or send flowers, which of course is lovely, but a home cooked meal or a paid cleaner for a couple of hours would be more helpful.
Fast forward to after the initial buzz of a new baby, and the baby has a Christening or a Naming Day. More presents, more fuss and honouring of our brand-new person.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating the baby, but my question is, WHEN are we celebrating the new mother (first, second or twelfth time mum around). There is no real recognition of the incredible journey she has been on, is still on, all her body has gone through and all she has achieved. She is not celebrated. She is congratulated on her newborn and expected to get back to normal – in life and in her body. The reality is her normal has changed. Beyond recognition. Rather than acknowledge this, embrace the changes and move forward with confidence and pride, she is reminded constantly of what she isn’t achieving fast enough.
What would happen to us Mums, if we WERE celebrated, acknowledged and completely supported in our journey through pregnancy and into the fourth trimester – those precious first few months of motherhood, when our bodies have been through it and our world has been turned on its head, and we’re leaking. What if, we were nurtured? Other cultures keep their new mums in bed for weeks, no chores allowed, not even cooking never mind cleaning! They sleep, rest, bond with their new baby, breastfeed. They don’t get dressed, sod the weekly shop! Many cultures also give the new mother a post birth restorative massage and birthing ceremony in recognition of her physical and spiritual journey. Because birthing your baby is so incredibly emotional, positively and sadly negative sometimes too – it all needs space to be heard and let go of. Perhaps if we were treated with this care and reverence, we might see a difference in how Mums manage motherhood and their adjustment to their new life.
I’d love to see Baby showers referred to as Mummy showers – where the mother’s pregnancy is honoured. Her friends come to massage her feet, paint her nails and henna her pregnant belly - make her feel like the Goddess she is.
I’d love to see the well-wishers after the birth spend an hour of their time to cuddle the baby while Mum has a bath, bring wholesome food for the fridge, and to go with the expectation to look after the new parents for their short visit – and not be offended if it’s not a good time.
I’d love to see a simple ceremony for the mother to acknowledge her awesome body, her awesome journey, and be nourished spiritually and physically post birth.
But most of all, I’d love to see society back off new mums, all mums. Tell them they’re amazing and that we recognise life just got crazy busy, seriously intense and proper hard work. To take that Babymoon to rest and recover because we get it. And there’s no pressure to be anything or anyone other than you, the new you.
If you’re interested in a post birth restorative massage and/or ceremony, take a look at Closing The Bones abdominal massage at www.closingthebonesmassage.com or contact email@example.com as a trained practitioner for more info.