A dear friend of mine, who is expecting her second baby, and I were having dinner and at some point we discussed what we or now she would be doing differently with the second baby to come.
I guess, everybody who is raising a child has this thought at some point.
Are there things I’d do differently?
Or did- in retrospect- everything just work out well for us?
My friend told me she wants and feels the need to do her Wochenbett. I was hit by surprise, but more on that later. First: What is this “Wochenbett“?
It is the German name for the postpartum time, the time which starts from birth, after the placenta is born, until the first 6 to 8 weeks after.
One might think that this word is quite old-fashioned and just a word, but on the contrary, no, it has a meaning and of course a great purpose during this time.
“Wochenbett” defines the time where your inner organs go back to where they were before the birth. It is the time where feeding, sleeping, your life with this little newborn gets a hopefully good foundation and you build the strength to deal with what is all to come.
In other cultures for example, babys are only presented to the world after 40 days.
And what do we do?
When I was at the beginning of my 20s and a young, new midwife I didn’t understand the fuss about this Wochenebett and if a lady asked me if they could go shopping, of course they could, go running, to a dinner party, I mean, still, who am I to judge. But now I know about the importance of staying in bed and staying at home. And i guesse today I’d advice people against it.
This time is for healing, bonding, sleeping and eating.These little babys do not need to be anywhere but in a safe, calming, relaxing environment. And for you to be able to stay relaxed and calm at all times it is important to have enough sleep and that you will only be in your own bed. Or on your couch if we are pushing it.
Doing home visits,i.e. “Wochenbettbesuche”, I found that babys where calmer if mammas stayed in bed longer, the breastfeeding was more likely more successful and the overall stress levels on the new families was way lower.
Now my friend, you remember, the one I had dinner with,was out and about. She continued her normal routine, went shopping, cleaned the apartment, cooked, everything. I admired her for what she was able to do, I do remember this very clearly, thinking what a cool mama she was and how stupid I felt for not being able to do much.She breastfed and got enough sleep but still, exactly this friend tells me how she wants to stay in bed and be at home longer and experience this timen to a greater extent.
Driving home from dinner I thought about our conversation and the time when my little baby was born. My Wochenbett.
My bed was my safe place, somehow my harbour in this loud and noisy city and how lost I felt moving into the sitting room after 2 weeks and how quick I was back in our bed with my baby and how I stayed there for 4 weeks and you know what, in retrospect, I should have stayed there even a little bit longer the time that was about to come might have been a little bit easier.
I am not the Wochenbett police but I am a big advocate for women resting after birth and experiencing this so special and unique time. Getting looked after and then being able to norture this little beeing and preparing for all that is about to come.
Stay in bed ladies, is all I can say.
Lots of love & Go leor de ghrá,