I feel that the reason so many new mothers suffer— and perhaps have prolonged suffering, either in the form of “postpartum depression, postpartum rage, postpartum psychosis,” etc. – is because their rites of passage from maiden to motherhood have not been properly addressed.
Many women I know, myself included, never got the “new mother” treatment. We didn’t get supportive partners who understood why our bodies were tired, needed certain nutrients, or experienced deeper, more profound senses of thinking and seeing the world.
We didn’t get the mothers, sisters, grandmothers, village of friends coming to stay with us in our homes so that we can rest, so that we can have the meals that are made by the hands of others while our primal bodies transition over into their new territory.
We didn’t get loved ones surrounding us with their hands, their help, their love – honoring both mother and baby as a way to say: “I see your needs. I know you have transformed. You don’t have to do it alone. I understand the mess and confusion of this initiation. I am here to help.”
Neglecting New Mothers Needs
Instead, many of us were met with a whole lot of “What do you mean you’re tired – you’re home all day? What did you get done today? Why would you be feeling that way? Have you tried medication? Can you get ready? My parents are coming by. Why didn’t you shower earlier – you were home all day?, etc.”
Many of us are treated like nothing has changed. As if a primordial force didn’t just move through us, expanding our vessels into birthing fields, to retrieve the cosmological and biological creature that is our child – who in itself is merging from spirit and into form. All to and through our bodies. No big deal.
Many of us are treated like we are supposed to “bounce back” as opposed to allowing our bodies inevitably transform. To continue our housework as opposed to receiving support. To stay on our toes as opposed to healthily resting. We’re meant to entertain our in-laws and other guests as opposed to being taken care of, ourselves.
On top of it, we are almost instantly drilled for how we will or will not make decisions about our children’s safety, bodies, health, education, and the like. We are shamed, blamed, guilted for deciding to draw the line in the sand and not carry over the same generational trauma and indoctrination that our lineage before us had done.
When a Baby is Born, So Too is a Mother
I truly feel that when a baby is born, so is a mother. So is a father. So is a whole generation of uprising ancestral trauma, acknowledgment and healing. When a baby is born, so too is another layer of ourselves. Another layer of Earth. And with that takes great reverence and celebration in a way that honors, values and respects the new mother’s primal, physical and spiritual needs.
When a baby is born we need to be meeting the mothers in our families and villages with delicacy and honest care. She should be surrounded by comfort, love, hands on help, nourishing meals, psychological understanding, safety, space for reprieve and replenishment, and even ceremony.
She needs darkness, candles, bath soaks. She needs songs sang to her, her hair stroked, her very birth recognized, too. She needs hot meals, long naps, the safety to relax in knowing that somebody else will tend to the baby for a moment. She needs prayers and invocations of the highest and best guardians. She needs to be held as her body processes any residual traumas in her birth. She needs thorough support on physical/mental/spiritual levels.
When a mother is born, we need to grant her the space to graduate from her old maiden life and into her new life-bearing creatrix mode. It will completely derail our impossible and false expectations of her all together. It will grant her the paved path that supports her motherhood journey so that both her and her baby are treated with love, trust, support, primal embodiment.
It will create pathways of resonance and compassion that in turn will cut out all the silly labels that originated from the village’s disassociation, misunderstanding, avoidance and lack of care in the first place – and in turn meet her needs on a nourishing, loving, soul level.
What mothers don’t need is further shame, blame, guilt or expectations inflicted upon us. When we stop treating new mothers this way, we will also dismantle the layer of the toxic patriarchal paradigm in our own lives that says: Pull up the boot straps, get back to work, don’t listen to your body’s needs, regain your work composure, be physically productive again – or else, fail.
In that way, when a baby is born, so is the vast opportunity for an entire new paradigm to be birthed, too. Let’s start heeding these calls.
Taylor Rose is a mother first, a lover, an alchemist of words. She is a Shamanic Energy Medicine Woman, body-breath-spirit worker as a Yoga Instructor, and a Holistic Doula working in the realms of birth, death, and the unseen.