By Keli Boyd
Hold the space.
From labor and birth to post partum, mothers need someone to “hold the space”. Protecting the sacred space for mothers creates a sense of safety and peace. This environment is optimal for the hard work done not only labor, but also after birth. Parents need time to bond with a tiny new person dependent entirely on them for survival. Mothers have physical recoveries as well as mental; heavily affected by the very hormones that brought the tiny bundle of joy Earth-side.
Traditionally, across cultures, women are doted on for approximately the first six weeks following birth. The women do not sweep the floor. They do not clean the dishes. They do not cook dinner. They do not pick up their husband’s clothes from the floor, nor wash their children’s. The women do receive massages- sometimes daily. They are fed. Their home and older children are not meant for them to concern themselves with at this time. They have only two jobs- recover and love their new baby. In addition to the obvious physical recovery, mother’s brains are being rewired and are awash in hormone changes from pregnancy to new motherhood. Even women with multiple children undergo this mental change with each birth.
How can husbands and partners protect and provide for new moms in our modernized, industrialized society?
- Reset Expectations -recognize that postpartum recovery is so much more than modern society allows.
- Stay – Stay home as much as possible. That new grill can wait. Six hour workouts can wait. Video game marathons can wait. Avoid leaving during severe weather. Mom needs your physical presence and mental energy.
- Do Everything – Literally. Run the home for six weeks. But also….
- Build Your Village – Guide friends and family into the support roles you need. They want to help so show them the areas where they can help. Ask someone to set up a meal train. Ask someone else to accompany mom to appointments. Find someone to sweep and vacuum.
- Enforce Visiting Hours – Some guests want to be entertained or don’t recognize when it is time to leave. Hold the space. Recognize when it is time to see guests out the door.
- Learn Baby Care – Change diapers, burp baby, dress baby, talk to baby. Hold the baby and sing while mom takes a shower. Learn nursery rhymes and lullabies.
- Dote on Mom – Keep her water and snacks filled. Physically assist her in moving from the bed to the toilet. Prepare her peri bottle. Take care and love on her.
- Bottles? Pump parts? – Wash them. Learn how to properly store pumped milk or prepare formula.
- Mental Health – Learn the red flags for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety as well as postpartum psychosis. Connect with care providers for proper support whenever necessary. Familiarize yourself with the typical hormonal struggles of postpartum.
- Self Care – Most often preached to moms, husbands and partners need to care for themselves as well. Take care of your hygiene and sleep needs. Eat nutritious food. Find mental and physical outlets for resetting. You care for others best whenever your own tank is full.
Hold the space.– Keli Boyd
What an honor it is to care for new moms! Every desire to protect and provide is fulfilled in this role. Supporting new moms through the initial six weeks postpartum is about more than being a savior deserving of praise. It is about setting the standard of care for those we love the most intimately.
Here is a quick check list to wrap things up: