Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lying-In

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven....a time to heal...." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

I've written quite extensively about post-partum on the other blog.  You can link to all the posts here.  (Included there is a post from Gana on the prevention of Post-partum Depression.  Written for a class at Fuller.  He got an A.)

When I started my last post, I'm A Woman, I didn't know exactly what I would write.  There were so many things swirling in my soul after reading the blog post that set me off.  The post took a philosophical turn--Why we feel compelled to regain a pre-baby body.  Philosophy aside, there are also physiological reasons not to rush the weight loss and exercise.

(Image from Shape of a Mother, a blog celebrating the bodies of real-life women. 
Warning: Not safe for work.)

In Shonda Parker's book, Naturally Healthy Woman, she writes regarding menopause, "More and more we are finding that the habits we adopt in our early years of womanhood allow us either to be able to embrace this change in a healthful fashion, or require us to persevere through a fiery trial.  For instance, the increased risk of osteoporosis has been thought to be caused by a lack of estrogen; however, new evidence is coming to light that shows it is the amount a girl child's bones are properly calcified prior to the onset of menses that protects her from osteoporosis later in life.  Another factor that increases the risk of difficult menopausal years is not properly taking care of oneself during the childbearing years.  Women who choose not to let pregnancy slow them down at all, but who bounce back into their normal activities within days of giving birth, appear more likely to suffer the ill effects of menopausal symptoms." (emphasis mine)

There are so many troubles that plague women-of-a-certain-age, that I am convinced are caused in part or in whole because we just don't treat our bodies nicely and we disrespect Mother Nature.  (As Dr. Bradley always said, "It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature!")  For example: we mess with the childbirth process, cutting women (episiotomy) in their most sensitive sexual muscle (pubococcygeous muscle) which controls their urethra, vagina and rectum.  And so later in life we need adult diapers and medication to control basic functions.  This is not the way God intended things.

We get the idea, somehow, that being a woman is not different than being a man.  On your period?  No problem.  Pop some pills, use whatever trendy new design of tampon is on the market and go dancing, play tennis, hit the mall.  In all the ads for female products the goal is that women should never slow down and rest. (and have you ever noticed that in tampon and pad commercials the women are often wearing white leggings or a white skirt?) All this feeds our nagging desire to people-please and that subconscious voice says, "Keep up this pace.  Keep up this pace.  Keep up this pace."  And we do.

Why?

In Leviticus 15 we find the levitical laws regarding a woman on her period.  She was to separate herself during the whole time of her discharge.  This seems unthinkable in our day and age where one day is pretty much the same as another.  We don't even observe a sabbath, generally.  And yet, I can't help but think how kind the Lord was in writing Leviticus 15.  Can you imagine being able to withdraw from duties, to rest, for one week out of every month?  Perhaps we would have less breakdowns, anger, depression, and health problems if we gave our bodies and souls regular rest.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it." 
Isaiah 30:15

The same goes for the delicate season of post-partum.  The Lord provided a time of rest for this season, too.  "After waiting thirty-three days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth. During this time of purification, she must not touch anything that is set apart as holy. And she must not enter the sanctuary until her time of purification is over.  If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she will be ceremonially unclean for two weeks, just as she is unclean during her menstrual period. After waiting sixty-six days, she will be purified from the bleeding of childbirth." Leviticus 12:4-5

It's good to be good to yourself after bringing a new life into this world.

My midwife consistently preaches a time of rest after birth.  She says that many of the female problems that occur later in life (uterine, vaginal and bladder prolapses, digestive problems, hormonal problems, endometriosis, etc.) are a result of being up and around too quickly and doing too much after birth.

I can hear it now......it sounds like my own voice after my first few pregnancies. 

But I feel fine!  Can't I start my walking/pilates/yoga/weight lifting/zumba/cycling/shopping/gardening, etc?

What's with the six week thing anyway?!  I need to be active. 

I miss my clothes.  I'm ready to look like myself again.

My post-partum bleeding has stopped.  So, I'm going to get exercising again.

Involution  is a medical term referring to the return of the uterus and cervix to their normal size and position after birth. Your uterus has been at least 40 times larger than its non-pregnant size. It takes time--at least six weeks--for it to completely involute.  Even if your stomach has visibly shrunk it does not mean that your uterus is done returning to it's normal size or moving securely back to its normal position.  You rush it and you could cause harm to your own body.  Maybe not now.  But, perhaps years from now.  Is getting back into your skinny jeans worth the menopausal crazies later?

Take some time to reorganize your internal organs.  Also referred to as, "Wait a second, my stomach doesn't belong up in my lungs."

Structural Integrity.  Your muscles--abdominal, pubococcygeous (kegel), back, even neck--have been pushed to their physical limits.  You've been carrying around a baby, water, a placenta, and these muscles need to have time to rebuild structural integrity before they are taxed again.  Sometimes muscles even pull apart and separate to accommodate the baby.  You have to give these time to come back together before you expect to be able to lift, walk, and move exactly the same as before.

Joints.  The hormonal effects of pregnancy cause joints to soften and expand (that's one way Nature lets that 10 pound baby come out of your 5' 1" frame!).  The effects of this can take weeks to completely recover.  You must be careful in the postpartum period that you respect your joints and their limitations.  You may not fully realize it now, but years from now when your bones ache every time it rains, will it have been worth it that you were in the gym two weeks after your baby was born?

You see, we are just so short-sighted as women.  We see these starlets are on the red carpet who are in their designer gowns 3 weeks post-partum and we take it as some sort of cue.  Women are supposed to look like that.  Women have flat stomachs and peachy tushies.  And who stops to count the long-term cost to our bodies--our temples?  To top it all off, it's sold as "health."  We call it healthy when a woman drops 50 pounds in 4 weeks.  Since when would that be considered healthy?

What I'm not saying: I'm not saying sit around, get pudgy, and buy a pair of mom jeans.  Stop caring about your appearance and become your own worse nightmare.

What I am saying: Give yourself time.  And ask the Lord to replace any false image of beauty and fitness--a counterfeit--with a picture of what beautiful womanhood is.  I'm convinced that our definition of healthy needs refining.  Lastly, what I'm saying is, adopt a long-term view of your health and wellness as a woman.  Don't focus on the calendar or the scale.  Eat right.  Nurse.  Feed your soul.  And let your body adapt.  After the post-partum period (which I believe lasts at least as long as the traditional 40 days, which I'll explain further) ease back into your fitness routine.



A 1932 publication refers to lying-in as ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months. It also does not suggest "Getting Up" (getting out of bed post-birth) for at least nine days and ideally for 20 days. This prolonged time of staying in bed after birth may also be called "lying-in". (H/T: Wikipedia)
In many other cultures, the practice of Lying-In is very common.  Of course, I had never heard of it until I moved to Mongolia with my six week old baby.  What?  Women are expected to do nothing for 40 days?!  Seemed so cruel and arbitrary.  And some feminist voice in side of me felt it belittling to expect a woman to just stay home and rest.  Pregnancy wasn't an illness, so why the undue concern?!  True, pregnancy isn't an illness.  But, birth is a major life passage and deserves respect and honor.

In Mongolia the Lying-In time includes, among other things, drinking warm drinks and avoiding cold ones; keeping your head covered--especially your ears so you don't "get wind"; a woman is not to get cold, at all.  Warm clothes, layers.  During the 40 days, anyone who comes to see mother and/or baby must bring a gift--it's required for the woman's health.  (No, I'm not making that up.)

Come to find out, many cultures have a 40-day rule for post-partum women.  Koreans have a (kind of) stinky soup to drink. Chinese women can't go out either. Latin American women bind their bellies. Ugandan women shave their heads. In almost all cultures the post-partum woman is treated gently, with respect and honor. She's allowed to rest, nurse her baby and little else. She is usually cared for by other
women in her family or community.


 

After doing it wrong after my first three births, I now feel foolish.  Who am I to throw away thousands of years of ancient wisdom that spans the globe, simply because of some ridiculous desire to be a super-woman?


Ladies in your childbearing years, treat your bodies nicely.  Don't beat them into submission, love them tenderly back to robust health.  Mommies, teach your young daughters to respect their bodies and their cycles.  Women past your childbearing years, help those of us in the thick of things.  Help us carry the load and don't let us overdo it.

17 comments:

Claire said...

I hope you start a revolution, Daja. :)

I had a signing yesterday with a young Chinese couple. Their baby is three weeks old, and they will not be leaving the home until after 30 days is up. When the dad came to the door, he was holding the baby. When mom came to the table, she was in her jammies.

Both myself and the loan officer noted how good she looked; pink cheeks, smile, etc. She was walking gingerly (as is to be expected), but seemed really relaxed, and did not look exhausted.

When I had my own kids, I was working (from home, albeit) in two weeks. Two.weeks. I was EXHAUSTED, and didn't get to enjoy the first few months of their lives like I should have.

mary said...

EXCELLENT ARTICLE, DAJA!!!! Thanks for taking the time to share it...! I'm way past childbearing days, but soooooo agree with you, from my age's perspective! :)

Mary (Cub's mom)

Mrs. and Mama K said...

"when your bones ache every time it rains, will it have been worth it that you were in the gym two weeks after your baby was born" ha! my bones ached in my teens! lol!

"It also does not suggest "Getting Up" (getting out of bed post-birth) for at least nine days and ideally for 20 days." does that include a shower and going potty? ;) i remember postpartum how much better i felt in the shower not worrying about bleeding all over and spilling everywhere.

"During the 40 days, anyone who comes to see mother and/or baby must bring a gift--it's required for the woman's health." I'm game! Heck! we just gave the world a gift of another life, another soul to love...it's the least they can do. ;)

Being part of the natural birth advocates I kinda felt pressured to prove how much better recovery was with the little man...that i was able to start doing things sooner...nice to know the Lord thinks otherwise!

Gombojav Tribe said...

LOL! Heather, you're hilarious!

Of course, I am not saying that ALL illnesses suffered by women are a result of not being good post-partum, of course. Arthritis since you were a teen, of course, is a special circumstance.

Of course, getting up to potty, take a stroll about the room, I FEEL, is OK. Taking a bath or shower is always refreshing after the intensity of labor. That's a far cry from doing housework, running errands, and hitting the gym!

About your last paragraph--I COMPLETELY can identify! That's how I felt after the first few births. I felt like I had something to prove. I'd been preaching that birth was not a sickness, that natural childbirth mothers bounce back faster, etc. Which is all true. However, when are we ever allowed to rest?! I think I'm FINALLY coming out of some people pleasing tendancies and feeling like, I can be myself. I can rest. It's OK!!!

(btw, when you bring me my gift I want a gift card for a pedicure. What do you want? LOL!)

Word Warrior said...

Daja,

You know how bad I am about getting around to visit other blogs...and yet the Lord (I think) led me here today, just 6 days before my due date. A very good reminder! Thank you! Oh, and not exactly on topic, but did you catch my post, "My Life for Yours: A Mother's Pondering About Her Body"? I think you'd like it ;-)

Good to "see" you again.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Kelly! I can't believe you're already at the end of your pregnancy! The time flew by!!!!! (At least for me! LOL)

btw, I'm expecting again, too. :-)

I'll check out your blog post. I don't get around to reading blogs too much these days, either. So, thanks for the heads-up on the post you linked!

Faith Babies said...

Daja very well said and written.
I never want my Mommies to feel they have to stay completely down, in fact I tell them that. I just recommend no house work, no cooking, etc for at least a week.
You may feel free to shower, and go to bathroom by all means, unless you have a bed pan. LOL I then recommend nothing strenuous for 6 weeks as it takes the uterus that long to get back in shape.
I know it is hard for some but you will never regret it later in life. As I laways say take it from experience someone who has been there done that. Love ya

LovemyPmos said...

I only lasted 30 days... I felt like I couldnt breathe and as soon as I heard there was a baby shower, I went. And then the next day I was in pain. I felt like my uterus was going to fall out. lol So i stayed in bed for a few more days. I took it easy after that. Slowly went out but didnt start exercising until now... and paidan's 14 months old. I need my pre-pregnancy body back, for my own sanity and for my skinny jeans. lol

THE Princess Bombshell* said...

God forbid we have hips!

http://www.mom4life.com/catalog.php?item=1569

Gombojav Tribe said...

OH MY WORD. That's rather horrifying, Sarah!

Alexandra Dominique Strauss said...

Wow... if I got to have a "break" every time I had my period.. I would LOVE it... I'd actually look forward to it!!!! Like the "always" commercial.. I'd have a "happy" period ;)

Karen Joy said...

Daja, I just want to let you know that I'm including a link to this post and your three "Post-Partum: A Time to Heal" in my birthing class notes. SUCH valuable information!!

Gombojav Tribe said...

Thanks for sharing the links! I just know your class is awesome!

nattles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nattles said...

I'm so encourage by this word, especially since expecting my third soon. On another note, Do you recommend placenta encapsulation? I am really enjoying this blog and wish I lived closer and could take your child birth class!

Gombojav Tribe said...

So glad you've found some encouragement here!

We are working on a book about Lying-In. Don't know exactly when it will be finished. But, when it is it will be announced on my other website: www.theprovisionroom.com

As for placenta encapsulation...to be honest I'm on the fence about it. If I were bleeding after birth I wouldn't hesitate to try the midwifery trick of eating a slice of the placenta. To me that would be preferable to a synthetic medication. However, I can't quite get myself to eat it outside of that emergency situation.

I have heard wonderful things about it treating post-partum depression. And again, I would find that preferable to prescription drugs. So, I cannot say I am against it at all.

I do feel that if we took better care of ourselves while pregnant, in labor and in lying-in we could prevent a lot of post-partum disorders with those measures alone.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help!

God bless you!

nattles said...

That is very helpful! I think you are so right about being more gentle on our bodies and that is can help all the common disorders associated with birth...I look forward to the book!
Thanks!

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