In Uganda there is a special word that means "mother of a newborn"--nakawere. According to the book Mothering the New Mother, "this word and the special treatment that goes with it apply to a woman following every birth, not only the first one. The massages, the foods, the care, 'they have to take care of you in a special way for about a month.'"
There is a special word in Korea as well. Referring to the "mother of a newborn child," san mo describes "a woman every time she has had a baby. Extended family and neighbors who act as family care for older children and for the new mother. 'This lasts about twenty-one days...they take special care of you.'"
These concepts--and the lack of a similar one in American culture--reminds me of a quote from Sheila Kitzinger that I use when talking about postpartum: "In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture." Another quote I use is an Asian proverb paraphrased in the book Fathers at Birth: "The way a woman cares for herself postpartum determines how long she will live."
Dana Raphael, the author of Breastfeeding: The Tender Gift, who is best known for coining the word "doula" as it is presently used, also coined another valuable term: matrescense. "Nothing changes life as dramatically as having a child. And there was no word to describe that. So we invented the word--matrescence--becoming a mother."
Happy Mother's Day to mothers around the world!
(Note: I live in Missouri where a wind storm in the southern part of the state on Friday has left a number of households without power [and some with significant damage]. I haven't had power since Friday morning and will probably be without until Monday. So, that is why I missed my usual Friday blog posting and also missed contributing to the International Birth Wisdom Week cyber-expo planned by Independent Childbirth. I hope to still post on the subject later this week, but for now wanted to share some Mother's Day thoughts that also have an "international birth wisdom" connection!)
Join Our Bodies Ourselves at the Women’s March!
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