The Centers for Disease Control recently released a report that the birth rate in the United States is the lowest in the last 30 years. It is below the replacement rate to sustain the population. Many people from writers in the New York times to conservative talk show hosts have reasons for this. The actual reasons go much deeper than what you may hear in the mainstream media.
Only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer. For all the talk about the sanctity of life, there is very little social support for mothers. 1 in 4 mothers go back to work 10 days after giving birth. There are ongoing class action suits against companies because of their discrimination, bias and harassment of pregnant mothers in the work place.
Going back to work right after giving birth has enormous health consequences for the mother and baby. Let’s look at just this issue. Afterbirth practices in traditional cultures were very different than in the modern world. Social support was stronger with extended families. Customs for afterbirth were healthier from a natural viewpoint.
In Asian cultures, and many others, mothers were encouraged to stay in bed for the first week or more in order to let the pelvis which opened up in natural childbirth to close. After this, very light standing and physical activity was encouraged for the next weeks and light activity after that. If the pelvis doesn’t close completely, the organs in the lower body collapse over time creating problems with reproductive, digestive, colon and bladder functions.
Because of weakened conditions in modern women, many women have to have surgery to give childbirth. From an energetic view, cutting into the lower abdomen weakens the health of the whole body. Steps must be taken to restore a woman’s health when this procedure is done. In Asian studies, the lower abdomen is considered a very strong energy center. If compromised, the health of the whole person declines. Giving birth is a very big event. The body needs to heal.
In addition, the bonding between the mother and child takes time, definitely more than 2 weeks. There are potential psychological consequences of this bond not being fully developed.
Hardships are imposed on mothers who want to stay home with their newborn. Low income motherhood throws a woman into poverty. High earning women are knocked off the promotion track. In addition to this, men’s wages have been stagnant for decades. Although the unemployment rate is going down, wages are not going up making it harder for mothers to rely on their husbands’ income during early motherhood.
When having children, women because of financial and other needs, are working full time while keeping a household and parenting. This can be exhausting. Complications such as birth defects can occur in someone who is depleted from diet and activities. Infertility can result from artificial means employed to force conception.
Women who cannot afford to have a child are putting off having children until they are older. In America, between a combination of poor diet, excessive dieting and exhaustion from work, many women find themselves depleted during middle age. They become further exhausted after the child is born due to their work schedule and imbalanced after birth practices. Giving birth traditionally was a younger woman’s activity because their vitality is at an optimum level and the mother has enough energy to raise a child. It is clear that we have to change our thinking on this topic to value and support motherhood at any age. This has be changed politically as well as personally.
From a political view point, economic equality has to be created. We need to work to change this with elected officials and get smarter beyond rigid camps of politics to create economic justice. We are all in this together. We rise and fall together. Pressures have to come to bear for treating women who are pregnant with respect and care by all companies and organizations.
From the personal perspective, it is important for women who decide to be mothers to understand how to prepare for childbirth and how to recover correctly after childbirth. Particularly, women have to be careful about restricting their diets by either dieting or going on extreme diets such as raw foods, vegan, and paleo types of eating.
Adequate nourishment and the right kind of activity is important before and after birth. Things to consider in a woman’s daily diet are adequate amounts of calories. Include healthy whole grains and some natural refined carbohydrates and cooked vegetables. Have natural animal proteins daily including: naturally raised meat, poultry, fish, and whole dairy products. Use natural fats such as butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Eat organic fruits, natural sugars, small amounts of juices, natural seasonings such as sea salt and garlic and mild herbal beverages. It is important to limit junk foods and excessive consumption of highly processed foods with chemicals and additives. Avoid dieting and instead eat more home cooked or naturally prepared foods.
Avoid high amounts of aerobic exercise which weakens the metabolism and do moderate but regular exercise. Do stress reducing activities such as breathing and meditation. Think carefully about what kind of work to pursue in order to work smarter.
I feel it is important to try to have children earlier in life as much as possible and create a network of social support to help you. My first two children were born at a time when there was a very strong natural foods macrobiotic community in the Boston area. There was a network of other women and mothers who cooked for our family and helped in other ways after the birth of our children.