A few days ago Jill at Unnecesarean linked to an article in the Brisbane Times, Maternity Leave--Or Reprieve?. It discusses our recent cultural obsession with getting out of the postpartum period as quickly as possible. The last few paragraphs struck me as particularly relevant to the discussion a few days ago about postpartum bodies. From the article:
You can't judge women for returning to work when the recession has made all workers nervous (and dispensable). The stay-at-home versus working-mother debate has grown so rancid and divisive it is now stale. What you can judge, however, is a cultural compulsion to leave behind as quickly as possible what in many societies has been considered a sacred space between a mother and child. In our race to prove our brains still function while our bodies respond to infant cries, we trample on something deeper than we acknowledge.It's not exactly the concept of confinement we need to return to, but it isn't far away. Previously, at least it was understood that we should respect the time around childbirth. Now we are supposed to admire all these tragic celebrity souls who pound away on StairMasters while their wounds are yet to heal, bind breasts so they don't produce milk, suck in their abdomens as they pose awkwardly in bikinis and talk about the horror of the maternal state.It would be a shame to lose reverence for those gentle, maddening months after a child is born, when you are in a sleep-drained reverie, stitched to a baby's rhythms and sweet suckling; when you watch them unfurl, watch their eyes focus on the world, their lips curl into smiles, their startled limbs jerk and then grow strong. When you delight in the life you have created, it becomes a lot less important to get your own life back the very next day.