Thursday, May 21, 2009

Queen For 100 Days

Dave and I completed our final birthing class last night. We learned how to swaddle and discussed postpartum issues. This is a picture of Dave and his master swaddle (his next project is to master the one-handed-simultaneous-twin swaddle, good luck sweetheart!).

I know postpartum depression is a common issue for new mothers, in fact 20% of all new mothers in the US experience some form of this depression. What I didn't know was the United States has one of the highest rates of postpartum depression compared to other countries.

We were told one possible reason could be how our culture handles a new mother post-delivery. A lot of focus and attention is given to the new baby and less to the new mother (completely understandable . . . babies are incredibly cute).

Some new mommies might feel marginalized or forgotten if a lack of recognition is paid to their role in the birth of cute baby. Here's just a simple list of what mom had to go through to bring new life into the world:
  • sacrificed her body for 9 months to grow baby and another 3 months to fully recover from birthing baby (that's a full year folks!)
  • altered her diet and habits to make sure baby would be healthy (did she exercise enough, eat enough iron and protein, give up caffeine, etc.)
  • went through the pain of child birth (regardless of the reward, I've been told it's still painful)
  • if breastfeeding, is still the sole lifeline to keeping baby alive post-delivery (human milk factory doesn't sound very glamorous)
I can see why telling a new mommy 'Congratulations! Now where's that cute baby!' could inadvertently make her depressed. Apparently, in other countries the new mother is given a lot more attention. For example:
  • In Japan the new mother does not cook or clean for the first 100 days after delivery (relatives rally to complete these tasks).
  • In India, a new mother's feet never touches the ground for a period of time post-delivery.
  • In Europe, most countries have laws mandating one full year of maternity leave.
  • Here in the US, our laws only allow for three months of maternity leave (already depressed just thinking about that one and I don't even work).
The overarching theme being other cultures embrace the idea of worshipping new mothers for completing one of life's biggest accomplishments. Thus, possibly reducing the rate of postpartum depression in a new mother.

So, the next time you see a friend and her new baby (or babies) make sure to lavish her with attention and any sort of pampering care you feel she needs.

Oh! and let's not forget the new daddies, they've been depressed since conception if you think about it. All attention is focused on the pregnant woman and then they get hit with the same 'Congratulations! Where's the cute baby?'


Zoo Keeper said...

Great thoughts!! Didn't think of it tha way but it makes sense.

Amanda said...

Thinking of you! I just finished reading "Your Best Birth" and it is very positive and inspiring. I'm sending it to you promptly. :)