Lying-In was traditionally a period of time for a postpartum mama to heal and bond with her newborn — a practice that’s sadly become an antiquated notion, giving way to modern goals like “bouncing back” and “pre-pregnancy weight.” Traditional rites, ancient midwives and less hurried cultures all have healing, nurturing rituals, and these practices were created for a good reason. And at Earth Mama, we’re all about listening to that wisdom — so we’ve decided to bring it back.
Let’s get real: prepping for the baby, and bringing her home, means more than just an adorable onesie and matching curtains in the nursery. But what about…the mother? Which, we’re assuming, is you. (By the way, we want you to remember: you’re a goddess! Go, you! You’re amazing. You really are.)
Anyway, you need to heal your body and soul while getting to know every crease, dimple, and the sweet scent of her brand new baby. That’s why Earth Mama encourages a modern lying-in: one where we acknowledge the realities and expectations of a modern mama, while dealing with the realities of a healing postpartum body. Oh, and a brand new baby.
Plus, in a way, it’s a feminist act. Much like breastfeeding in public, lying in makes the statement that in America, a new mother’s work — the practical and emotional period of adjustment after bringing a new human into the world — is just as important as any other job. The bonding that occurs in those early minutes, hours, and days are more than magical wonder: it’s crucial to the baby’s development.
Our best advice for a modern Lying-In:
First of all, Plan.
Prepare your laying-in like you’ve prepared for baby, and be sure to have someone who will support you, attend to you and bring you what you need. Set yourself up with available resources and a support system — nourishment, hydration, a hand to hold that first time you have to go pee — so you can be laser-focused on the babe. It can be anyone: husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, your mom, your grandma, a postpartum doula. This will involve asking for help, which can be hard. But you won’t regret it.
Stay in bed.
Have everything within reach, and don’t bother with pants, or even a shirt. (Hence our hashtag #NoPantsPartum.) Because if you have pants on, you’re more likely to get up and answer the door. But here’s the thing: not wearing pants reminds you that you’re already doing your one job – gazing at/bonding with/getting to know your baby. Plus, you’re saving your energy, so you can make that milk.
Let yourself heal.
There’s a reason you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus. Think about the physical feat your body just accomplished! During the first hours, days, and weeks after you give birth, your uterus has an enormous job ahead of it: to contract the open (!!!) blood vessels that fed the placenta, so it can seal the wound on your uterine wall. Pulling laundry from the washer to the dryer or shoving a vacuum around can interrupt that healing process.
Hormones are no joke.
Postpartum recovery is no small adjustment. Directly after birth a woman’s hormones go from 60-0 in no time flat. Hormonally, the first week postpartum has been likened to a drug withdrawal. Part of the placenta’s job is to produce a huge cocktail of hormones (which still isn’t totally understood), and as soon as it is expelled, those hormones — especially progesterone — drop. This explains why you might feel weepy or moody for the first several weeks, and why it’s normal to feel sad despite otherwise lovely circumstances.
Resting, bonding, and healing are all part of adjusting to that dramatic shift in your hormones. Stay in bed. Eat foods that are nourishing and replenishing. And be willing to ask for the help you need.
Of course it’s fun to make sure the crib matches the glider, if that’s what you want, but the mama part of your Fourth Trimester requires focused preparation too. Choosing to create a Lying-In period and allowing yourself to heal is not a bad thing — we’ve just been subjected to go-go-go mentality (especially in America) for too long. Your job is getting what you need for glorious, peaceful bonding.
In other words, you’re being a mama.