baby

'No one ever asked me.' The social norm after childbirth that everyone needs to stop doing.

It hadn’t even been 24 hours since I had a c-section when my small ward room had suddenly filled up with well meaning family members and friends.

They were super excited to see my newborn. They cooed over him and cried. What’s wrong with this scene, you may be asking?

The room was suffocating, the stench of flowers filled the room (not the worst stench) but my scar was fresh and barely healed, I suddenly had a newborn and an overwhelming responsibility.

It was all sinking in. I was now a mother. There was a lot about childbirth that I was unprepared for. There’s the icky stuff, the bleeding and all the TMI stuff that I will spare you from, but one thing that I hadn’t prepared for was how I would feel.

Baby blues is a very real thing and few women are immune. It should be not be confused with post natal depression. They are not the same thing. But in a nutshell, when your body has been through the rollercoaster that is pregnancy there are huge fluctuations in your hormone levels. This can create a drop in your mood and you can find yourself crying for hours…for no reason. This mood ceases though, unlike post natal depression.

Nonetheless I was locked in the bathroom crying for no reason. I did this for an hour before people started showing up at my ward.

My mother in law asked me if I was tired. I nodded. Not wanting to admit that I had just been crying for absolutely no reason.

Planning on giving birth? Monique Bowley and Bec Judd discuss everything you’ll need for the first three days with a newborn, on Hello Bump.

I was trying to mask my baby blues (because having a baby is meant to be the happiest day of your life and anything less than that is met with criticism). Trying to navigate breastfeeding and a newborn…all under the watchful eyes of others. No, I’m not talking about the midwives or the lactation consultants. I’m talking about people I know.

They all wanted to see my newborn. Ready to put their hands on my defenceless newborn who wasn’t even 24 hours old.

People come to visit women who have given birth because it’s the norm. It’s expected. No one questions that and new mothers are expected to ‘suck it up’ and smile for the camera while it gets posted on social media.

No one had asked me whether I was ready for visitors. Whether or not they could touch the baby. It was already assumed they could.

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I even had visitors who didn’t leave when I needed to breastfeed and I had visitors that overstayed their welcome.

It’s treated as a god given right, that everyone can see your newborn.

I had people show up without even a text to let me know they were coming. I had people tell me they were coming at 3pm and didn’t show up until 6pm (thanks peeps, it’s not like I could have used that time to nap..because I’m not sleep deprived or anything).

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is exciting when a mother has a newborn baby, but this social norm/tradition of having to visit the mother within 24 hours of her giving birth has to stop.

I acknowledge that some women are OK with it, but the point is, it is a question that should be asked. People need to check with the mother if she is ok with visitors and if you are going to visit a new mother in the hospital, please, for the sake of the mother, show up at the time you said you were going to AND keep your visit short,  leave after 10 minutes or so.

Another thing to remember is that you can always arrange a time to see the new baby outside of the hospital stay.  The hospital is not the only place you can visit a new mother. Although, to sweeten the deal please bring food when you stop by a new mum’s house. It will be much appreciated.

The baby will still be there in the coming weeks. I can assure you.

Although you may think you are doing a wonderful thing and some women may be totally cool with it, it doesn’t hurt to check with the mother. The social norm and expectation of hospital visitations in 24 hours after birth needs to stop. ASAP.

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