The Importance of Recovery After Pregnancy: A Necessity, NOT a Luxury, for Modern Moms in the United States
By Valerie Lynn, Guest Blogger
While living and working in Asia for over 16 years, with the past 12 years largely spent in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the Southeast Asian region of the world, I conducted in-depth research on various after-birth traditions and recovery methods. The lower income countries located in the East Asian region are categorized by the World Bank as Second or Third World, (with the exception of Japan, which is considered First World). Categorization is determined by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, which is the total dollar value of a country’s final income in a year, divided by its population. This is a direct indicator of the average income of a country’s citizens, i.e. the average income of working families.
Due to the lower economic standards of living, it can be said that life might be more difficult in these developing countries than in developed countries like the United States. It is therefore expected that ALL members of a family must be productive and contribute to the well-being of the family. In my experience, no one is allowed to be lackadaisical and a strong work ethic is instilled at a young age purely for survival. In traditional countries like Malaysia, China, South Korea and India, there are well-developed and specific after-birth care practices that have been passed down for generations, centering on a mother’s diet, activities, and self care during the first six weeks after childbirth. The main objective of post-pregnancy recovery guidelines are to ensure a mother’s recuperation is strong, healthy, balanced and, most importantly, takes place in the shortest period of time.
Approximately 3 billion people (including their respective governments) living in traditional cultures recognize that it is essential for women to have a designated “lying-in, resting, or recuperation period” in order to have a full recovery. On average most traditional after-birth recuperation periods range from 30 days to six weeks.
This compulsory resting period allows women an adequate amount of “complete down-time” in order to regain their energy and strength as their body transitions back to a non-pregnant state in the shortest time possible. The result is a sound, strong and “more balanced” recovery. Once the six week recuperation period is complete, a woman is expected, once again, to be a productive, contributing member of the family. I believe that traditions mandating a resting period are directly linked with lower rates of postpartum depression. For example, in Malaysia there are well-developed and specific postnatal recovery guidelines and traditions resulting in a low national rate of postpartum depression of 3.9%, and within a specific group of Malays, just 3%.
In western countries the notion of a “resting period” after childbirth is deemed a luxury and seen as self-indulgent of a mother. I find this generalized opinion to be uninformed, outdated, and baseless when there is an abundance of statistics indicating some of the highest rates of postpartum illnesses in high income, or developed, countries such as the United States. For example, unofficial rates of postpartum depression in the U.S. range between 15-25%. This percentage equates to 1.25* million new cases each year given the medical-label of postpartum depression or a pregnancy related emotional illness. I find this number to be incompatible with what most internationally recognized financial and economic institutions consider to be the world’s number one economy where human rights are of paramount importance.
A paradigm shift is needed in western cultures, especially for the policymakers who draft important maternal healthcare legislation, including maternity leave and health insurance benefits. If more women and families are knowledgeable about and demand access to a full range of postpartum options than we can begin to change how we treat this often ignored but very important time after pregnancy.
*Figure includes clinical births, which comprises fetal losses, miscarriages, and stillbirths.
Valerie Lynn is America’s first Post-pregnancy Wellness Coach and founder of the Post-pregnancy Wellness Company. She is introducing an entirely new paradigm regarding after birth care in the United States based on Eastern influences. Her book, The Mommy Plan, Restoring Your Post-pregnancy Body Naturally Using Women’s Traditional Wisdom, is gaining global recognition in the childbirth industry as she has explained core tenets of traditional after birth guidelines surrounding a mother’s diet, activities and personal care during the first 6-8 weeks after childbirth. Valerie is a Traditional Post-pregnancy Practitioner and offers training in traditional after birth herbal body treatments, massage and abdominal wrapping, and is the Sole US distributor of a unique traditional Postnatal Care Set.
Post-pregnancy Wellness Company