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Preparing Your Home For Your Lying-In, Part 2

August 14, 2012
by

(Read Part 1 here.)

I heard Bridget Lynch, a midwife from Canada, speak at a DONA conference in 2004. This was after my first three children (which I did not observe a lying-in time) but before the birth of my fourth child (after which I did observe a lying-in time). She spoke about the loss of lying-in time in the U.S. and Canada. She asked the question, “Where did our post-partum culture go?”

In her talk she listed four facets of post-partum rituals:

1. Seclusion of mother and infant
2. Intense care and support of mother
3. Restricted activities of mother
4. Suspension of mother’s social roles

Her model for a post-partum lying in time (which she calls “The Peaceful Zone”) is as follows:

5 days: mother in bed with baby
10 days: not going outside with baby
14 days: no cooking, cleaning or older childcare
40 days: life on the new mother’s terms

I think these are really good guidelines. I don’t personally like too restrictive a lying-in time (such as in Mongolia all the restrictions such as no cold drinks or no showers!), but I certainly like the idea of life on my terms for a while! Give a post-partum woman the freedom to relax and do only what she wants to do without any obligation to keep to societal norms.

My midwife has also told me many times how resting post-partum helps to prevent female troubles later in life. She strongly feels that many female problems experienced later in life and the need for hysterectomies can be linked to how we treat ourselves in our childbearing years and post-partum.

This is all well and good, but how can this lovely resting time be possible when life in our culture does not give women space for it?!  There isn’t the infrastructure built into our culture to support this.  For those of us who are aware of the need for and the power of rest, we need to help those mommies of little ones.  Encourage them to slow down and enjoy.  Lend a hand.  Educate and support.

Here are some ideas:

Create a post-partum culture:

When a friend or acquaintance of yours is having a baby, think ahead of ways you can bless them.

1. Bring her family a meal. Bring one for now and one for the freezer.

2. Bring her pampering gifts such as a gift certificate for a massage or manicure, lotions, movies, special books or journals, chocolate.

3. Pick up some groceries for the family or stop by the farmer’s market for her getting her lots of fresh organic stuff, because walking around farmer’s market is not something she’ll be able to do for a while.

4. Volunteer to look after the older children. Take them to story time at the library, to the park or a movie. Let mommy, daddy and baby have some quiet time to sleep or just have a complete thought in peace-and-quiet! This will also make the older children feel very special.

5. Honor the whole family. In bringing gifts to mother and baby, don’t forget daddy and the other children!

6. If your friend is an active Sunday School teacher or community volunteer, volunteer to cover her duties for a season. She’ll be much more likely to give herself time to rest if she knows that things are not being neglected.

7. Do some of her chores, especially the heavy ones–like pulling the weeds in the garden, washing the car, or vacuuming the house.

8. Send her a card several weeks after birth just to let her know that she is special and is doing a good job.

9. Start a ministry in your church or neighborhood that reaches out to and supports post-partum parents. This can include coordinating people to do things like bring meals and do chores. It also could mean scheduling a monthly support group where new parents can talk to one another, ask questions and just know that they are not alone in the interesting and sometimes challenging adjustments.

10. Listen to the new mom (and/or dad) talk. They may just need a listening hear, a shoulder to cry on or a prayer. Don’t be afraid to say, “Can I pray for you?” and just show them the love of God.

He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His
arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with
young. Isaiah 40:11

11. If she’s missed church, get her the CD or DVD of the message so she can still feel connected to the church and get some ministry that her heart will need!

I think that if we women band together and raise awareness, demonstrating by our loving actions the heart of the Father for us, we can create a new post-partum culture and fill the gap that is in Western Culture.

Educating women at a baby fair.

HOW TO: Meals For The New Family

I have been on the receiving end of meals many times. It has always been a HUGE blessing! And I’ve learned a thing or two that I’ve tried to implement when I prepare meals for others.

1. Ask the family if they have any allergies or dislikes.

2. If you’re not the first one to bring a meal, ask them what they have been having. I remember after Captain’s birth we ate enchiladas about 3 times in the same week. Good thing I like them! After Saraa’s birth we had roast chicken no less than FIVE times in the same week. Two or three of those meals also had the SAME SIDE DISHES of beans, rice, and sweet potatoes! Of course we were grateful for the meals, but we were so happy when someone brought over lasagna and salad! So, just ask so you don’t give the family too many repeats.

3. The purpose of bringing a post-partum meal isn’t to save the family money, but to lighten the task load.  So, try not to bring things that require them to prepare it.  Sometimes people bring something like some ravioli and a jar of pasta sauce. Yummy to be sure, but it requires someone to put it together. The most the post-partum mommy should do is pop something in the oven to warm it.

4. If possible bring the meal in a container that you don’t need back. I’ve had stacks of other people’s Tupperware, pizza pans, pots, stoneware, etc. And trying to keep track of what belongs to who is tough! I’ve come to church with a big box of stuff that needed to be returned. It’s so nice when someone comes with containers and says, “Don’t worry about returning them!” *sigh of relief*

5. Remember that you are not just making enough food for the mommy, but for her whole family. Make more than enough. If possible bring one meal for now and one for her freezer for later. Trust me, she’ll be very grateful!

6. Unless you know the family very well, do not presume to prepare the food in her kitchen. (I never minded when my mom or best friends have done this.) I’ve had a few very well meaning folks that I didn’t know so well come with bags of ingredients and then prepare the dinner in my kitchen. The food was great, but it was a little stressful for me. I felt like I had to be up and make conversation. And I had to keep going into the kitchen answering questions like where thing were.  And then I was left with quite the mess to clean up afterwards!

7. It’s lovely to visit, bless the baby, see if there is anything that needs doing (such as a chore or two). But, don’t overstay your welcome. If the mommy doesn’t have anything that needs doing, don’t stay chatting for several hours. (Yes, this has happened to me.) Keep your visit short and sweet.

8. Call the family early in the day or the day before. Let them know you’ll be bringing the meal and confirm what time they want to eat. There have been times when I’ve not known if someone was bringing a meal or what time. This left us waiting around wondering if I should cook or keep waiting.

9. Don’t forget to include the lovely little meal extras that turn eating into dining!  You might include some little appetizers, dessert or a bottle of wine.

10. If you are coordinating the meal effort for your church, school, or community, share these guidelines with the others. If there is good communication in the team, it will make it so wonderfully relaxing for the post-partum family!

IDEAS FROM READERS

(I originally posted this list of guidelines on my family blog several years ago.  Readers piped in with wonderful additional ideas, which we will share with you here!)

Sarah Kate said, “Should you send dishes that you DO want back, pop an address label on everything that is yours.  Or make it real easy on you AND the family– send delivery. I make sure I include the tip, and then call the family to tell them when it is arriving, and that you’ve already tipped, so they don’t even have to worry about tipping!  INCLUDE dessert! Even if it is just candy bars! :-)”

Joy said, “I would also suggest adding to the list not to bring meals each nite. Maybe every other night. Especially if it’s a pan of lasagna, most families, especially small ones can’t eat an entire pan in one night. I always coordinate MWF meals. Spread out the fun.”

Sarah said, “Our church is amazing at bringing meals. My very favorite meal after our first daughter was born was brought by a bachelor friend of ours. He provided us with a date in a bag! Complete with a meal and side dishes fit for a gourmet restaurant, a fancy dessert, a bottle of wine, flowers, and a romantic comedy on DVD! It was so fun and made me feel a little more like a wife in a time when that part of me was easy to forget.”

Mama K said, “I always appreciated it when someone would call ahead and see if we needed anything like diapers, diaper cream, burp cloths, maternity pads, whatever.  If you’re gonna have your mom or whoever stay with you to help out and still want people to bring food, make it a point to let them know. When my MIL was with us people assumed that she would cook every night. She wasn’t here to cook, but to help take care of the kids. It’s a nice break for her as well! After our first it was nice for them to stay around and eat with us or better yet, hold the baby while we ate!”

Sally said, “There is a website called CareCalendar.org that you can use to organize meals for a family, with built-in days that the family can request (like MWF meals, for example), provide information such as allergies or likes/dislikes, and what meals the family is already receiving that week! A great tool for blessing families with meals or even help, like cleaning or childcare help. A friend set this up for me with the recent birth of our third child and it was much smoother to not have to coordinate meals myself!”
Do you have any tips to add? Please share them in the comments!!!

(Linked to Tiny Tip Tuesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2012 9:27 am

    Another awesome list of ideas!!!!!!!! Thank you!
    This sounds like it could turn into a wonderful family ministry opportunity, especially if you have older daughters who could help bless a new mommy.
    My midwife tells me to stay in bed for 2 weeks after a birth…no cooking, cleaning, or chores. My husband (by his own choice) watches the kids and keeps the house running. The church family usually brings meals. All tremendous blessings as you’ve written. I must say that the only problem we’ve ever had was that often the wonderful ladies who’ve dropped off a meal have been so excited to see/ hold the baby, they forget to wash their hands first. Maybe it’s just me, but I always dread the thought of a newborn getting sick when a precaution could have easily avoided it.

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  1. Preparing Your Home For Your Lying-In, Part 1 « The Provision Room

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