4 Ways To Honour Someone Who Has Just Given Birth
I believe that the postpartum period is a sacred time, and that every birthing person deserves to be honoured, celebrated, rested, and well fed.
Our culture, however, doesn’t agree with me or provide much support at all.
So let’s talk about how we can help facilitate this kind of experience for the postpartum people in our lives, the people we care about who have just had a baby.
What does it mean to honour the postpartum person? How can we honour the journey they’ve taken - as well as what they’re experiencing now, on the flip side? What does that look like? What can we do to help a new parent feel truly honoured?
Here are 4 simple ideas:
Give them space.
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best thing you can do is to NOT show up. People forget that the postpartum period is not always an appropriate time for visitors, for a few reasons. A newborn has spent 9 months in a warm and dark place, and needs time to adjust slowly, in the safety of their parents’ arms - not the safety of 10 different people’s arms, which can be overstimulating for them. A new family unit needs time to get to know each other. This sacred time shouldn’t be disturbed, if you ask me. Not only that, but the birthing parent is often in the throes of physical recovery, hormonal fluctuations, and emotional ups and downs. So you can honour them by allowing them to rest, to bond with their baby, and wait until they’re ready before you show up.
This person has just gone through something huge. Even if you’ve given birth yourself, don’t assume you know all of what they’re feeling, or that they want to talk about it in the first place. If they do feel safe with you and begin sharing with you - whether it’s about the birth story, their feeding struggles, their feelings of happiness/love/exhaustion/uncertainty - no matter what they’re sharing about, the best thing you can do is to just listen. Forget the advice. Just be there and listen. Make eye contact. Hold space for them.
Nourishing home cooked meals are paramount in the postpartum period, but no new parent has the time to cook! So bring food. If you’re giving them space (i.e. not visiting), leave the food on their doorstep and send a text to let them know it’s there. Another great idea is to organize a Meal Train.
When you do visit, don’t be the visitor that just sits and cuddles the baby (or worse, asks for a cup of coffee). Take a few moments to do something useful, such as washing the dishes in the sink, or taking out the trash. These little things make a big difference when life feels chaotic! If it feels right, just jump in and do those tasks without asking. If you want to check with them first, be really specific, otherwise they might shy away from your offer to help. Instead of an open ended “What can I do to help?”, try asking very specifically: “Mind if I tackle these dishes?” - or as you’re preparing to leave: “May I take this trash on my way out?” Make it easy for them to say yes.
What do you think of these ideas? Hit up the comment section below and let me know!
What other ways can we honour the postpartum people in our lives?