As soon as you become a mother, it’s all about that baby. Twenty-four-seven. One-hundred percent. Everything. Day in and day out. You suddenly, without realizing it even, put your baby first in everything. Have to pee but baby’s hungry? You’ll cross your legs while you nurse. Walking into the kitchen for a much-needed snack when your partner hands him over for mama time? Trail mix can wait. Need more sleep and baby stirs? Obviously.
These things are appropriate. This mama-bear instinct matters and it makes sense. Even when your bladder is about to burst or you don’t think you’ve ever been hungrier. Naturally, moms lay down their lives for their children, and our human babies are born especially helpless.
This is why mothers needs to be safeguarded during the postpartum phase. They are giving everything to their newest little ones, despite needing a recovery themselves. This is why I love the Five Insights for the First 40 Days from Heng Ou. These five things – retreat, warmth, support, rest, and ritual – are how mom herself gets what she needs.
She retreats. She ignores social obligations and cocoons with baby until she is ready to be out in the world and with her community again. She pursues warmth. She avoids chill and rejuvenates her body with teas, bone broth, and warm soups and stews. She accepts support. She receives help in her household and with her other children so she can focus on herself and baby alone. She rests whenever she can so that her body can heal and she can re-center. She embraces ritual whenever someone offers it to honor the significance of this transition and all the things she’s experienced.
These things are important for a mother. Remember them the next time you have a baby: don’t feel guilty when you retreat instead of welcoming visitors, or when you rest around the clock. You need this.
Remember these insights when you know someone having a baby: let her retreat and rest, but when you do visit, bring something warm, offer support, and ask about her birth experience or how she’s doing with new motherhood.