As you know, I get pretty close to and invested in the families who I care for. Boundary issues? Whatever. I am a mama bear. No need to skirt around that. And sometimes it is tough to hear about how often society misses the mark in supporting a birthing family. So let me help.
Gentle reminder #1: Families near their guess dates need lots of space to breath and anticipate the hard work to come. Couples are focused on preparing their hearts and homes, being absent from work, etc. They may be somewhat anxious about whether the labor and birth will turn out OK. Getting 20 texts daily starting at 40 weeks makes people anxious. Anxiety increases stress hormones in our body that can prevent labor onset or at least slow it way down. I surely would not want the bad karma of thinking that I harassed someone to 43 weeks. You?
Gentle reminder #2: It saddens me when a mom shares in the first week postpartum, that someone in their family or friendship circle is upset that they were not notified when labor started, or that the baby was born. Sigh. Birthing families have to negotiate so much territory after their births. It bears repeating that women can have overwhelming hormonal shifts to contend with after birth, as well as physical healing, sleep deprivation, and often milk making and sore nipples. If you have hard feelings about not being invited to the party, take a brisk walk outside, journal, have a private cry, and quickly get over yourself. Quickly. Brush yourself off and get ready to be helpful and loving when the family calls on you to come. It is not their job to take care of you right now. They need your grace, patience, healthy boundaries, and maturity.
Gentle reminder #3: Many families exhaust themselves accommodating eager and well-meaning loved ones in the first few days, when they should be resting, drinking plenty of water, healing, and tending to the mounds of laundry. Exhaustion delays healing, may increase the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety, and can decrease breastfeeding success. It most definitely brings new mothers to tears and really stresses out partners, who are trying to mediate between protecting the sanctity and sanity of their home life and addressing the social pressures of folks wanting to pour in the door.
Take home message: Please, please honor the last weeks, labor, birth, and the postpartum period as times when families need to determine the degree to which they want their tribe close. Give them space. Be ready with love.
Full disclosure: Apologies to my sister-in-law who had to deal with my unwoke self when my first nephew was born in 1998. I was clueless.