Zoya's weekly newspaper column~ was published May May 8th, 2015
Royal Birth and Mothers Day
The past week, the world was abuzz with the birth of the newest addition to the british royal family- Princess Charlotte was born. In lieu of the royal baby's birth, social media was abuzz with talk of the glam squad which helped her leave the hospital looking like she had a day at the spa. And then there is the rest of us moms who are rather in awe of the whole scene.
Baby George finally had a sister. My 9 year old daughter, Nora, was thrilled-a moment she has been waiting months for-she is fascinated by the royal family. My kids and I watched the replay of Princess Kate stepping out of the british hospital to show the world her bundle of joy.
"Why isn't she tired? Thats kind of weird." my son Stuey remarked with furrowed eyebrows as Kate walked out on the hospital stairs and presented her baby to the world. It seemed very weird to me, seeing Princess Kate all dolled up so shortly after birth. But then again, Kate is a princess. And such a grand appearance with new family would be part of her role.
Mommy bloggers everywhere went crazy. From criticism and jealousy about Kate looking so good to compassion for Kate having to put on a "show" so quickly after giving birth. Many women spoke of how she was probably glad to have that appearance over with and retreat to the comfort of her own home and many attendants to help her. In my curiosity I informally asked local moms and they felt mainly compassion for Kate.
When I told my husband, Patrick, this week I was writing about Princess Kate's speedy postpartum public appearance, his reply was along the lines of, "Why does her giving birth matter? They don't even pay taxes." With so many waiting with bated breath in Kate-mania world, for some odd reason it does matter. At the end of the day, Kate is a woman, a mom with very real social pressures (yes, different from the rest of us, but there nonetheless).
As women, we all face these pressures to look healed, be recovered quickly in the days, months and weeks after giving birth. Whether it be from family, social media, friends, partners…there is pressure. And a lack of appreciation for the time and space truly needed to recover from birth.
3 weeks after giving birth to my first child, I sensed this pressure. Day in, day out, I was enjoying sitting in my recliner chair, nursing my baby girl and resting. A family member was visiting with us and she and Patrick would take daily walks together. They always asked me to go and I politely declined. Patrick later told me that our guest mentioned she was concerned that I'd "never lose the baby weight I had gained." That was really the farthest thing from my mind at that time.
The reality of the hours and days after childbirth, is women don't have the support team like princess Kate will have when she retreats to her country cottage to heal. For the bulk of women in Western Culture, we're on our own. In general, the Western culture doesn't value rest, and intensive community support during those first 2 months. Those critical postpartum days are a sacred, cherished healing time, where the mother needs to be well supported. A time for going "in".
In many cultures around the world, there is a 30 or 40 day period where a new mom is pampered in this postpartum time-she rests, is taken care of by friends and family. Her pelvis is wrapped with a long cloth to help promote healing and reduce pain. She is fed warm soups and foods to help her replenish her Chi or life energy after childbirth. This helps restore stability to her pelvis, give her the rest she needs with adjusting to life with a baby, and not deplete her very limited energy reserves. This is a sacred stage of a stage of motherhood and it is cherished, not pushed through. These acts help truly help a mom into the transition into motherhood.
Every step of Princess Kates' journey is watched with anticipation by mainstream media. Who attended the birth? Did she use an epidural or go natural? How long after giving birth did she go home?
Princess Kate will literally be treated like a princess in her postpartum days, weeks and months. She has nurses, midwives, nannies, etc attending to her every need. With the new moms in the world, I wish for them to all have a dab of royal treatment from friends, family, community. They have earned it-the time after birth is one of healing, recovering, bonding and receiving.
This Mothers Day, lets reach out with extra support to these amazing women who are in the days, weeks and months following childbirth. Whether it be a plate of dinner, some warm soup, a note of support, cookies, a hug…every token of support will be remembered. Act by act, this will make the postpartum time easier for moms in our island community.