What is post-birth support and why is it important?
"Giving birth is a wonderful gift but it hurts both the body and the heart. The job of the nannies (grandmothers/elders) is to help bring the mother back into 'consciousness' so that she can be a source of nourishment to her child" - Wai Mason, New Zealand Māori from Tauranga Moana, kuia (respected elder and spiritual/community leader.)
In Māori tradition, being a new mother is sacred and she is referred to as te whare tangata - 'the house of humanity' and 'the canoe that conveys one generation to the next,' and so, a woman who has just given birth is treated with the utmost care. In many other traditional and indigenous cultures around the world, the mother is cared for for at least 40 days post-birth.
According to Jenny Allison, author of Golden Month, - Caring for the World's Mothers after Childbirth, research shows that estimated rates of postpartum depression in western countries are at over 20% and "good postpartum support can have a protective effect against developing postpartum depression, and that the converse is also true, that neglect of the mother's needs after giving birth is a contributing factor to depression."
Not only is honouring Māmās influential on their mental health, it also supports the establishment of breastfeeding, lowers stress hormones in the body, encourages bonding with baby, stabilises adrenals, strengthens the nervous and immune systems and promotes healing, particularly after traumatic or arduous pregnancies and deliveries. The short and long term benefits of caring for the mother are so strong and far reaching that Jenny says, "It is so obvious that the question can even be asked, why would you not do this after childbirth?"
Pregnancy and birth is a time for families, friends and communities to gather around the new Māmā and provide her with the essentials for a holistic recovery:
When a baby is born, so is a Māmā and the services and products that I provide are about Mothering the Mother.
Golden Month: Caring for the world's mothers after childbirth by Jenny Allison
The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.
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