If Animals Can Do It, Why Can't I?
Tulsa Postpartum Doulas
Authored by: Devon Mullins
I have a small "farm" in Northeast Oklahoma where we raise rabbits, chickens, pigs, and sometimes a garden. Since I have started raising rabbits, I have noticed something very interesting. First time mama rabbits have about a 50-50 chance of losing their entire first litter when they are put in cages separately. Some mamas simply don't build their nest in time, some mamas build a nest but don't feed their babies, some mamas will step on the babies accidentally crushing them. But I have been reading a lot about a different method of rabbitry; colony style.
You see in a rabbit colony, all of the does are kept together in more of a kennel or a yard where they are free to build their own nests where they want, and often times will share nests. I have noticed that with this method, owners of the rabbits comment about the older does caring for the younger by either feeding the babies themselves, or building the nests for the younger does.
This got me thinking about the way we take of our new mothers in our society. It seems to me that the current mentality in our society is to keep us all locked away in our little "cages" and let us deal with this new life experience alone. Midwifery Today states "While postpartum women are naturally appreciative of any help, [the] common modus operandi in the US indeed falls far short of offering the full healing, bonding and growth that can be experienced in the first several weeks postpartum."
Being a new mother is one of the most emotional times in a woman's life. It is a time filled with joy, wonder, excitement, fears, exhaustion, and pain, all wrapped in a ball of love and uncertainty. In our society, women are expected to field all of these feelings, hormones, etc. while learning their new baby, learning how to breastfeed that baby, taking care of their bodies, and many times entertaining guests who want to see the new addition.
When it comes to recovery, well, 6 weeks is enough right? "Oh, you haven't gotten any sleep? HAHA! Get used to it, honey". Breastfeeding? "Well, if you don't get it right away maybe you should just give a bottle. After all, maybe you just don't produce enough milk!"
Where is the support? Where are the older "does" teaching the young? Helping and guiding that new mama through this journey. Telling them that they are doing good and it's okay to trust their instincts.
I saw a facebook post from the Tulsa Zoo. One of the chimps had a baby! A zoo attendee, Steve Jones, posted about a dozen pictures of the new mama and baby just minutes after the birth. Almost every picture showed the other chimps standing right with the new mama. She wasn't isolated. I bet those other chimps are there to help that mama too.
I am here to tell you sweet mama, who is fielding every emotion a person is capable of feeling simultaneously, you are not a failure if you don't know how to breastfeed right away. You should not be expected to simply deal with this huge life changing event and keep a smile on your face while entertaining well-meaning guests. Six weeks sometimes isn't enough time for your body to adjust to it's new normal. The truth is that we shouldn't expect to know everything the moment that beautiful baby is delivered. Even many animals have someone there to help them along the way.
I am here to tell you that you deserve to be supported. You deserve to be encouraged. You deserve someone to guide you through this time and tell you that you are NOT a failure. Tulsa Family Doulas can be that for you. We are here to support you, encourage you, guide you, and let you know that you are rocking the mama role! Connect with us today about our postpartum doulas and have the support you deserve.