American culture is utterly lacking in postpartum care. We are a country that values and demands that a woman bounce back after giving birth, no matter what her circumstances, no matter how impossible for so many that is. So a woman announces she can afford to take the advice other mothers have given her and this is the reaction?
Sure, getting help costs money, but it's not actually as out of reach as we might think.
Living in Los Angeles, I'm graced with many different cultures. All of them have said how horrible this country is on new moms. I'm talking moms from Hungary, Russia, France, Vietnam and Mexico. America did not always uphold this viewpoint, one that centers around martyrdom. But we sure love it now.
Women used to have a lying-in period, back in Colonial America. Women who had just given birth were expected to stay in bed for three or four or more weeks. During that time, the new mother would rest, regain her strength and bond with the baby. Attendants(relatives and other unpaid friends and caregivers) kept up the household.
In the 19th century, Richard and Dorothy Wertz write in "Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America," that all changed. The last free land was settled, it was everyone for themselves and the era of "social childbirth" with help from women to women, ended.
A friend recently told me about how Chinese women adhere to a 30-day confinement period after having a baby. During this time, someone cooks (mostly milk-inducing soups and herbal tonics). And they rest. My friend had hired a Chinese woman, who did this for her. She helped with the baby at night and cooked for her a bit when she woke up, before tending to the baby.
I had never heard of that before. I love that idea.
Perhaps Chrissy will become more guarded with what she shares on social media after this judgmental firestorm. But I hope she knows we're not all thinking that.
Nourishing your body back to health. Nourishing your soul and mental stability. I am convinced there must be a correlation between mental illness in this country and the way we treat new mothers.
I gave birth to my third child at Cedars Sinai in Hollywood, where there was a beautiful view of the Hollywood Hills, where we lived at the time. I remember talking to one of my nurses, who was Russian. She sat on my bed, talking to me after I had given birth. She admitted they used to call Cedars the In&Out of deliveries, referencing the popular fast-food chain out here in the West. Believe it or not, things were worse for women in the '70s, she said. Women would go home the same day (or the next day, at best) after having a baby. Sent home all by themselves.
Sure, getting help costs money, but it's not actually as out of reach as we might think. When I ask expecting moms if they have lined up any help, they smile and say "no." Yet their baby registries are huge. I say, forgo the stuff and spend money on a pair of arms that can help you. Even if it's just for a few hours a week, science proves—again and again—we women (we humans!) need our village for wellness.
Perhaps Chrissy will become more guarded with what she shares on social media after this judgmental firestorm. But I hope she knows we're not all thinking that. I'm all for her saying she's getting help. It really is the best thing a mom can do for herself. Better then any top end stroller or fancy high chair.
And that's something we moms really need to hear.
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Chrissy Teigen is under more scrutiny after People published an interview where she claims to have chosen the sex of her baby. "Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, 'Let's put in the girl."