“You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” Regardless of how you feel about President Barak Obama as a president, that quotation should hit home as a woman.
Family and maternal wellness are definitely political
I learned firsthand, the hard way, that rhetoric about the importance of family doesn’t translate into local legislation or cultural values. I kinda knew it was true, but it didn’t really, really hit until I got pregnant.
In my state, I noticed that “family” only meant birthing babies. Safe births, equitable medical treatment for all families, and affordable access to healthcare weren’t a part of most family-centric legislation. Efforts to help struggling moms were belittled as handouts and welfare. Access to safe education and affordable child care weren’t leading principles in my state, either.
I began to realize that my state truly didn’t care about the longterm wellbeing of children, much less the wellbeing of the girls and women who birth them. That hit hard. Women in my state need more measures towards maternal wellness, and I can’t wait for politics to catch up.
Legislation doesn’t start with politics. It starts with social values.
The lack of emphasis on maternal wellness reflects a social challenge. As I learned to navigate perinatal depression and anxiety, I noticed that many people placed emphasis on the wellbeing of the unborn or the baby regardless of its impact on the mother. (This became remarkably clear during my second visit to the ER.) For many in my state–and daresay much of the US–we don’t seem to understand that maternal wellness directly correlates to the health and wellbeing of the unborn and born alike!
There are multiple studies, from multiple countries that support the wiiiiiild notion that healthy, happy, well-resourced mothers are better equipped to raise healthy, happy, well-balanced and resourced children. I’m baffled research is needed for that, but thankfully it’s available.
Instead of emphasizing maternal wellbeing, I observed that:
- Women are expected to dissolve in motherhood. Overlooking personal hygiene, personal development and mental health are the norm.
- If we do anything to care for ourselves, it should also be for the pleasure of our husbands. (Ya know, gotta look good so he doesn’t leave or whatever.)
- Motherhood is expected to be our only source of fulfillment.
- If one mother persevered without support, other mothers are expected to do the same.
- Our only interests and activities should be those that benefit our child and husband.
If I strayed from those expectations, I was hit with accusations of selfishness.
I was supposed to ignore the fact that most mothers that I taught in yoga classes were chronically exhausted and unhappy with the way they looked.
I should overlook the empty nesters that cry on their yoga mats during savasana because they have no sense of purpose once their kids leave the house.
That’s the norm!
Flip the script. Maternal wellness is an essential part of family and communal wellbeing.
It made me realize that mothers need to be encouraged to love ourselves. There isn’t enough in our political system or social values to reflect the inherent value of girls and women. So I got some affirmations for you.
- I am inherently valuable and worthy of love.
- My body should be the safest place in the world for me.
- I am mine before I am anyone else’s, and that’s okay.
- I love as an act of compassion for myself and others.
I created THRIVE to affirm that maternal wellness is essential. Your wellbeing is not an afterthought.
Maternal Wellness Challenge
There are 168 hours in a week. Can you dedicate 4 *uninterrupted* hours to yourself? How about 2? (It’s only 1/84th of your time, sis!) If that seems impossible, don’t give up. Start small and work your way up.
Move physical activity releases endorphins and relieves stress. Practice yoga asana with me, dance in your bathroom, or learn to do that cool hula-hooping stuff!
Reignite your senses take a decadent bath. (what makes it decadent is not rushing.) Indulge your senses with aromas, tastes and visuals that you enjoy. Light candles, play soothing music, enjoy some fruit, add some herbal bath salts and shut.the.door.
Spend time in nature time in nature is regenerative on a cellular level. Can you recline in the grass and watch clouds go by? Take a walk outside? Play in the garden? Go for it!
Take a holy nap you don’t have to “earn” rest. Rest because it feels good (and is good for your brain, heart and digestive health).