I have just finished participating in the Sacred Postpartum Summit, an online series of talks put together by Layla B, a Moroccan Postpartum Doula and Trainer. The speakers included midwives, doulas, pilates instructors, therapists, and others who work with postpartum families in different parts of the world, from Mexico to the Middle East, to Malaysia. It was interesting and inspiring, yet I came away feeling that something was missing.
They all shared about the importance of allowing a mother to rest, focus on learning new skills of taking care of her baby, slow down and be cared for. They talked about the psychosocial need to be recognized and celebrated as a mother who has gone through a great ordeal to carry and birth a baby. In Morocco, traditionally new mothers are treated like brides - pampered, fed, dressed beautifully, adored, showered with attention, excitement and love. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were just what was done everywhere? If that were what was expected by every new mother and member of her community?
I understand that spreading the word about, and techniques of, traditional postpartum practices aids in shifting the culture in developed countries from one in which new mothers are isolated and overwhelmed trying to do everything on their own, to one in which communities support new mothers who willingly accept help. However, I wanted more information about making this shift bigger, faster, sooner.
I like to think of myself as a change-maker, so this theme has resurfaced periodically over the last 10 years: how can I show expectant parents the importance of asking/letting others help them after their baby is born?
Connected questions follow: How can I change the world by providing support to families in such a vulnerable time when they don’t see the value or necessity of that support? What can I do to help non-childbearing community members see that postpartum families are their concern too? The health of our community depends on all of us.
Often, I feel stuck in a box, not able to see outside it, only coming up with the same answers others are finding too: give talks about the postpartum period, spread the word about support, give voice to the shame that many mothers feel in asking for help, shed light on a time of life that is kept hidden. Change is happening very slowly, but I keep wondering if there is something else, some key ingredient that would speed it along.
After learning about the elements of Traditional Moroccan Postpartum Care from Layla B, I wrote this poem:
To the New Mother
I want to see you
To really see you, exactly as you are
With blood, breast milk, tears, and sweat flowing.
I want to touch you, massage and bathe you
To love you exactly as you are
To adore the beauty that you are,
To celebrate the power within you
and sustain new life.
I want to feed you nourishing food
To heal and strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.
The only question now
Is if you can accept this care, this admiration
With an open and willing heart.
So, I’d love to hear from you! Where do you think energy can be directed to help create change at a cultural/societal level so that we shift from a society of independence and overwhelm to one of connection and peace?