It’s time to learn how to make postpartum a sacred experience even in our fast-paced modern world.
We’re back in today’s Postpartum University podcast episode with another unpopular opinion.
And that’s the idea that actually no, making postpartum sacred isn’t a “woo-woo” thing.
Get ready to bust through common misconceptions about embracing the sacred in postpartum.
This is part 1 of a 2-part series.
In this episode, we’re talking about:
Why making postpartum sacred isn’t about pursuing esoteric or unattainable ideals. Why it has nothing to do with the birth experience. And why this transformation deserves care and reverence.
How making postpartum sacred is not impossible simply because of the demands of modern life. How even in our technology-driven world, we can still find sacredness in this profound transformative time.
The history of the transformative journey into motherhood and how the postpartum period has been revered, recognized, and celebrated by cultural heritage practices around the world.
We’ll wrap things up by diving into an understanding of how patriarchal practices in our society have shifted social norms and what we can do to hold the threads of wisdom, tradition, and reverence.
Read the transcript of this episode:
Depression, anxiety, and autoimmune symptoms after birth is not how it’s supposed to be. There is a much better way, and I’m here to show you how to do just that. Hey, my friend, I’m Maranda Bower, a mother to four kids and a biology student turned scientist obsessed with changing the world through postpartum care. Join us as we talk to mothers and the providers who serve them and getting evidence-based information that actually supports the mind, body, and soul in the years after birth.
In a world brimming with hustle and bustle of modern life, the profound journey of postpartum often goes unnoticed. But it wasn’t always this way. Long ago, across diverse cultures, postpartum was revered.
It was celebrated and embraced as one of the most sacred phases of a woman’s life. It was a time of transformation, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.
Welcome to the Postpartum University podcast. I’m Maranda Bower, and today we are talking about making postpartum sacred. In this episode, we’re going to embark on a journey of rediscovery, a journey that takes us back in time to when postpartum was marked by rituals, wisdom, and deep connection to the sacred. These are times when communities understood the significance of supporting a new mother as she transitioned into her role and where traditions held the key to a holistic approach to healing.
But our journey is not going to stop there in our quest for this scientific understanding and medical advancements. We’re also going to look at this bigger picture of how we’ve overlooked a crucial element in this journey for this scientific understanding.
We’re going to look at the sacredness of postpartum experiences and discover the reliance on science alone has led us to lose sight of that spiritual, emotional, and deep human aspects of this transformative period. period. So in this exploration of making postpartum sacred, we’re going to challenge the status quo.
And I know you expect nothing less from this podcast. We’re going to question the conventional wisdom that often leaves mothers feeling overwhelmed and unsupported during this crucial time.
And as we dive into the concept, you’ll find that it’s not just about the why or what, but also the how, the practical steps, the rituals, and the practices that can help us restore the sacredness of postpartum. But here’s the twist. This is a two -part series. And in part one, we’re just beginning to scratch the surface. We’ll dive into the historical perspective and understanding how our ancestors across different cultures lived a very different postpartum experience.
And we’re going to uncover the wisdom that has been passed down through the generations, wisdom that have been overshadowed in modern times. However, the how of making postpartum sacred is a vast and intricate tapestry.
It’s woven with stories and traditions and practices that span cultures and generations. And to fully appreciate and embrace this tapestry, you’re going to need to join us in part two.
There, we’re going to journey even deeper, reveling in this hidden rituals and practices that truly can be transformational in the postpartum experience.
So here’s episode one.
In our modern world, the concept of sacred can sometimes seem elusive or even misunderstood. It’s a term that evokes various images and emotions and deeply personal experiences to each of us.
But as we embark on this journey to making postpartum sacred, it’s really crucial to lay the foundation that by exploring what the sacred truly means in the context of this transformative experience.
So at its essence, the sacred is about recognizing the extraordinary within the ordinary. It’s about finding profound meaning in the seemingly mundane aspects of life.
It’s the deep connection between the physical and the spiritual, the emotional and the transcendental. It’s a reminder that our human experience is not limited to the material and the tangible.
It encompasses the intangible, the spiritual, the deeply emotional. And oftentimes this cannot be named. It’s a feeling,
it’s an experience that doesn’t have words. So why does this matter in the realm of postpartum? Well, postpartum isn’t just a physical recovery.
It’s this profound emotional and spiritual journey as well. It’s a time when a woman undergoes a remarkable transformation both in her body and her identity.
And it’s a time when we’re vulnerable and there’s growth and this rediscovery and within this journey lies an opportunity to infuse that sacred,
acknowledging the spiritual and emotional dimensions of this really life-altering experience. So by making postpartum sacred,
we honor the full spectrum of this transformation. We create a space for emotional healing, spiritual growth and deep connection.
It’s an approach that goes beyond the medical and physical aspects. It encompasses the holistic well-being of the mother and her family.
One common misconception is that by embracing the sacred postpartum, it’s some sort of woo -woo kind of thing or it’s an impractical concept,
something reserved for those who subscribe to this alternative or mystical or new age belief system. The truth is, making postpartum sacred isn’t about pursuing those esoteric or unattainable ideas.
It’s really about recognizing this deeply human, emotional and spiritual dimension of postpartum. It’s about acknowledging that this period of transformation is both natural and significant and deserving of care and reverence.
Another misconception is making postpartum sacred is that it’s an impossible endeavor. It’s too many demands in this modern life.
It’s too fast -paced, we’re technology -driven and this leaves little room for that reflection and ceremony and ritual. However, this misconception can be challenged by understanding that the sacredness is found in those everyday moments.
It doesn’t always require these grand rituals or elaborate practices. It can manifest in small, intentional actions. The way we prioritize and honor the postpartum experience is a reflection within this.
While the misconceptions about postpartum sacredness may exist, it’s really essential to recognize that this concept is accessible. It’s meaningful and it’s within reach of anyone willing to embrace it.
It’s about reclaiming a holistic approach to postpartum care, one that nourishes not only the body, but also the spirit and the soul.
I want to say that the sacred postpartum is not something that is new. History shows us a place where the roots of our modern belief and practices are really entwined within this sacred postpartum.
So throughout history, across many diverse cultures around the world, postpartum was that revered profound sacred period. It was a time when communities came together to embrace the arrival of new life,
but also a new mother. So it wasn’t just about this physical recovery of mom, it was a holistic, conscious support system that recognized this emotional,
spiritual, and social facets of this transformation. And there were eras when rituals and traditions were very much woven into the fabric of postpartum.
They weren’t mere ceremonies, they weren’t just moments of, “Well, this happened and therefore we have to do this.” They were moments of connection and reflection and healing.
Communities really understood this intrinsic link between nurturing the mother and nurturing the newborn. It was a time marked by profound respect for the strength and resilience of women.
So in these ancient cultures, the sacredness of postpartum wasn’t a concept that needed to be explicitly labeled or consciously cultivated. It simply was.
It was a natural and intrinsic act. And it was part of the seasons and rhythms of life itself. So postpartum care and reverence for this transformative journey of motherhood were really,
again, woven into the fabric of these societies. It wasn’t a matter of questioning whether this period was sacred. It just was this unquestioned truth,
a shared understanding that this arrival of a new life demanded profound care and ritual and celebration is a deep rooted recognition. It was a testament to this interconnectedness of the community,
this innate wisdom that resides within us all. When I wrote the book, Reclaiming Postpartum Wellness, I dived really deep into the history and culture and the anthropological views of postpartum,
many of which I share in the book. But just to give you a few examples, in Latin America, a mother’s abdomen is usually wrapped in a claw to help her keep her belly warm and support her uterus and this returning to its proper place.
And it was believed that if a uterus is not in its place, nothing in her life would be in balance. In the Alaska Native culture, which is in my space, I live in Alaska, this is something that if you’re working in the birth world, you have to know because the Alaska Native culture is such a profound community here.
And they believe that the birth itself is a ceremony. The aunties and the sisters and mothers provide this ongoing care and ensure that a mother and baby are gifted the ceremonial rights of passage from womb to world.
And there are ceremonial foods that are given to her in many stages of her pregnancy and her labor and the birth of her baby. And they’re given to her by the elders of the community,
which is really about welcoming her into this motherhood.
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However, as we journey through this history, we also encounter a profound shift, a transition away from this way of deeply rooted honoring of the sacredness of postpartum.
And we see the ascent of science and the gradual loss of the sacred connection. And so this transformation is really multifaceted for one,
but it influenced so many factors and really reshaped our understanding of postpartum. And the reliance of science, which undoubtedly contributed to advancements and maternal and infant care,
really profound and powerful, but it also led us to a shift away from the sacred. Science often sought quantifiable answers and tangible outcomes.
It focuses primarily on the physical aspects of labor and birth and minimal acute postpartum care. And this patriarchal medicine model of “care” we are really indebted into a set of false premises and promises and moral experiments.
and really the development of mass regulations that benefit the caregiver more than the one needing care. And so the true providers who held space for women,
the midwives, the medicine women, many of them were forced out of their positions. They were literally burned at the stake as witches. They were led far away from new education systems that proclaimed they knew the way and only way to better perinatal care.
So this intricate web of emotional, spiritual, and communal elements that once envelope, postpartum begin to erode sometimes and often unnoticed.
And this patriarchal influence practically regulated the sacred aspects of postpartum as society evolved, normal social norms shifted, it emphasized this individualism and the efficiency of society well above communal support and tradition.
And so this once shared responsibility of caring for mothers and celebrating their journey became really fragmented. And the loss of this sacredness through science in essence was a cultural change.
It was a shift from a holistic interconnected view of postpartum to one that really narrowly focused on the clinical and the medical and the rituals and traditions that have enriched the postpartum experience for centuries just really faded away.
And that still exists today. Perinatal care is the second leading least evidenced-based healthcare system in the world. So take that in for a second.
Perinatal care is the second leading least evidence-based care healthcare system in the world, meaning that what is currently being done for perinatal birth, perinatal care, postpartum care isn’t really based on science at all. There are many reasons that exist. Science is a business, it’s built around money, it’s built around men who control it, it’s built around political influences, but also thankfully there are some moral implications too. So in today’s world, we can’t just do any science experiment, especially if there’s a potential to cause harm to mother and baby. So a sad reality is that we just don’t have solid science and evidence. Now I do my absolute best to share this within the professional membership of postpartum university.
We have an entire database that our providers use with hundreds of scientific articles related to maternal mental health, autoimmune disease, nutrition, and every relatable topic possible.
And I consistently provide scientific trainings. I love science, really I do. I love science and I understand the value of it, but I also recognize the sacred,
the lost art of postpartum, the knowing of how important stillness and bonding and community care and ritual and ceremony are to this period.
We, including myself, cannot forget about the sacred part that is postpartum. So even in spite of history,
we must recognize that the sacred has never truly disappeared. It lingers, it echoes. There’s an ancient practice that still resides within us.
It is the voices of those who continue to champion its importance and in the healing hearts of individuals who are seeking to reclaim the depth of meaning in their postpartum journey.
Our exploration aims to bridge the gap between the past and the present and really rekindle the sacredness of postpartum within the context of modern life,
making that possible. So the recognition and embrace of the sacred within the postpartum journey holds the potential to reshape outcomes for new mothers and families in really profound and positive ways,
all of which we will get into within the next episode. What we know is that the sacred changes of postpartum outcomes happen for the better.
We literally improve the outcomes of postpartum care and the mother’s health overall and the family’s health overall by incorporating this. But here’s the pivotal point,
the power to make postpartum sacred once more rests in each one of us. It’s a call to action, it’s a reminder that we hold the threads of tradition, wisdom, and reverence. And as we navigate this journey, we invite you to consider how you too can contribute to this revival of the sacred in postpartum.
It’s not a task for one. We can’t do this alone. I cannot do this alone. But as a collective endeavor, a real awakening of the holistic interconnected approach to motherhood,
we can do this. In our next episode, we’re going to dive deeper into practical ways to infuse this sacred into your postpartum experience.
So we’re going to hear stories of of those who embarked on this transformative path. We’re gonna explore rituals that can really elevate this journey.
So join us for the next installment as we kind of unveil the hands -on practices that can truly make postpartum a sacred and empowering time.
This sacred is waiting to be embraced. And together, we are gonna unlock this potential and we’re gonna create nurturing and transformative postpartum experience.
If you love this episode, do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes. Your support means the absolute world to me and we will see you in the next episode.
I am so grateful you turned into the Postpartum University podcast. We hope you enjoyed this episode enough to leave us a quick review and, more importantly, I hope more than ever that you take what you’ve learned here, apply it to your own life, and consider joining us in the Postpartum University membership. It’s a private space where mothers and providers learn the real truth and the real tools needed to heal in the years to come and the real tools needed to heal in the years Postpartum. You can learn more at www.postpartumu. That’s the letter U.com. We’ll see you next week.
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