Giving birth is, to put it lightly, a trippy experience. Not only are you physically bringing a new life into the world, but the process of it causes all sorts of pain, stretching, (stitching!), tearing and exhaustion.
While having a baby can be an amazing life moment, it’s also an intense one. Sometimes a new mama needs some time to adapt to the roller coaster of events & emotions that she just experienced.
Some moms need time.
They need a day or two to truly rest, to begin to recover, to be alone to process the sheer magnitude of what just took place.
One mom wrote a poignant Facebook post about desperately needing a day or two after giving birth before receiving visitors, & it has gone viral because countless moms know EXACTLY what she means.
Katie Bowman is a mom of three, but she still vividly remembers what the birth of her first child was like. A picture had been taken of her in the hospital room roughly 24 hours after she gave birth, and as she points out,
A picture really is worth 1,000 words.
It’s a scene many of us are familiar with: a hospital room, a relative cradling a newborn, baby gift bags strewn through the room, and a freshly postpartum mom trying to feel human again.
You can SEE the exhaustion on Katie’s face, & both her expression and body language illustrate her plea for new moms: maybe give them a day or two before visiting.
Everyone wants to see the new baby, & can’t be blamed for their giddy excitement.
But, as Katie points out, maybe a new mom just needs:
1 or 2 days (for a new mum) to come to terms with the fact she had a tiny human emerge from her body.
I’ve had several babies, but I will never forget how mind-blowing that first childbirth experience was. It’s almost surreal; “did that actually HAPPEN??”
1 or 2 days for her to finally have a shower and wash the sweat and blood from her body.
Childbirth is miraculous, but it’s also a very gritty, sweaty, bloody miracle. It can take a mom at least a day or so to even be able to be emotionally motivated enough to clean herself up, much less physically able to.
1 or 2 days for her to push through the pain of her sore nipples as she learns to breastfeed.
OUCH. Not to mention the frequent nudity and pumping this entails…
1 or 2 days for her to try to have some sleep because she is absolutely exhausted.
Giving birth is exhausting. And chances are, mom has labored for hours, And the hospital might be the only place she’ll get decent sleep, since once you go home with your newborn… sleep becomes a distant memory.
It’s mind-bending enough to spend those first precious few hours learning to feed your baby (nursing or bottle), change your baby, -hell, for some, to hold your baby without fear of breaking such a wee thing!- without the pressure of entertaining guests in your hospital room.
To be clear: Katie’s not looking to be a sore sport, people (thought she no doubt WAS physically sore when this picture was taken). Nor is she trying to seem ungrateful for well-wishers.
But what she does want to remind people of, however, is that just like newborns, new moms need to be handled with care, too.
you have just gone through one of the most painful, exhausting, and mind blowing experiences in your life.
And while everyone is lining up to get a crack at cuddling your newborn baby, chances are you’re feeling… raw.
Emotionally raw. Psychically raw.
Raw… down THERE. Because you’ve likely been cut or torn, or stitched, and your body feels like it’s gone ten rounds with a heavyweight prizefighter.
You struggle to get comfortable in that hard hospital bed, because no position feels ok. You can barely sit, stand, lie down, or walk.
But the visitors. They’re your family, your friends. They are loved ones that are bursting with sheer joy & well-wishes for you. They’re so damn happy for you, which is the kindest, most awesome feeling…
…if they’d just hold off for maybe a day. Maybe give you a chance to get used to trying to nurse without your nipples hanging out there like dinner plates, figuring out this latching thing.
If they could maybe wait until you’ve mastered the whole double pads-with-mesh-undies ritual so the back of your maternity pajamas doesn’t look like a crime scene.
And the problem is, as Katie points out, if you ask people to wait a day or so before coming to visit, well, then YOU’RE the problem.
People can’t wait to get their hands on that new little one. And we get -believe me, we’re happy that you’re happy about our newborn. But too often, if a new mom asks for visitors to wait a bit until visiting the hospital, the message isn’t well received:
They simply must satisfy their need to hold this new baby.
If you don’t allow them to come visit you in the hospital, you’re a selfish, delicate, drama queen.
(And let’s not even begin to discuss the ignorant visitors that cheerfully chortle, “Now you only look 4 months pregnant!” to a woman who has given birth 24 hours prior….)
Katie’s not implying that all new moms don’t want visitors, or that all visitors should automatically have to wait 24 hours before visiting a new mom & baby.
What she IS saying, however, is that not all new moms are alike. I personally enjoyed the company. In spurts, that is. But when well-intentioned friends would pop into my hospital room just as I was trying to nap, or trying to nurse, it was…. awkward.
It’s awkward because you feel bad saying “now’s not a good time”, but need to say “now’s not a good time”.
Like Katie emphasizes:
This is about people who have tried to ask visitors to wait a day or 2, but been made to feel like they told them they can’t be in the baby’s life.
It can feel uncomfortable to ask people to give you a bit more space & time to recover while you’re in the hospital, but it can feel way, way worse NOT TO.
And lest you think Katie’s just being dramatic… keep in mind that in merely three days of her post appearing on Facebook, it has already received 75K shares, 31K likes.
Most importantly, her story received 10K comments of support from moms who shared how they felt the same exact way about the visitor chaos that occurred following their childbirth experiences.
Parenthood is a long, winding road, and we need to start out on it on our best footing.
Mama needs to be as strong (emotionally, physically, mentally) as she can be as she prepares to care for her newborn.
The best kind of support a family member or friend can give a new mom is the gift of the question: “Is now a good time to visit you and the baby?”
And the best gift a new mom can give to herself is an honest answer to that question.
Katie’s picture truly does speak 1,000 words. New moms are already tasked with putting their newborn’s needs first, but shouldn’t have to do so with everyone else’s wants & needs in their own hospital room, too.