So, you've just had your baby, and apart from giving 24/7 care to your newborn, the next on your agenda is postpartum care. How do you care for yourself, so you don't fall apart taking care of your little one? And to any basic new mum, postpartum care simply means you avoid any activity that might aggravate your post-birth battle scars (sorry husbands). It's also a period for sleeping and resting as much as you can.
But, in reality, many different countries actually have unique postpartum practices. In Singapore alone, being a melting pot of different Asian cultures, postpartum care practices are quite diverse. If you've known anyone in your circle who has given birth before, you may have already heard of confinement hotels and nannies.
If the sound of hotels and nannies caught your attention, wait until you learn what the rest of the world does. In this article, we will cover the different postpartum care practices of other countries. Sit tight, and keep your passport close by, because you'll want to use it after learning what we found out.
Gotta Love Yourself Some Postpartum Euro-Care
Belgian chocolate and the cold weather are not the only things you will love about European countries. With the number of maternity benefits European moms get, you'll wish you were European yourself.
Let's start off with how long their paid maternity leaves are. Versus Singapore's 12-16 weeks, Europe's paid maternity leaves average 26 to 62 weeks.
Against Singapore's 2-week paternity leave, European dads can get up to 10 weeks of paid leave. That fact will surely get your husband on board. Not just on board with the plan but literally on board a plane to any European country of your choice.
Another commonality with European countries is their trust in midwives to deliver low-risk births. They only call for an OB-Gynaecologist when complications arise. But, generally, it's the midwives who oversee the delivery. Why is that good? Not only are midwives trained and experienced but their services are also generally cheaper.
In the Netherlands, after giving birth, a kraamverzorgster, a trained maternity nurse visits your home for 10 days straight. And what do they do, you may ask?
When they arrive in your home in the morning, they hold your baby for you, cook your breakfast, help you shower, watch your other kids (if any) while you take a nap, accompany you for a way, and so on and so forth. Their role is mainly to assist and to help you get better used to parenting. They're a helper and a go-to person for all of your maternity-related questions.
And the best part is you get the services of your kraamverzorgster for free if you have health insurance. So, regardless of how much you are making in your job, as long as you have health insurance, your government is going to send a trained maternity nurse your way.
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Germans are similar in giving postpartum care to mums fresh from the delivery room. A nurse helps you with everything you need within 10 days past your delivery. Then, they come 2 or 3 times a week in the weeks following that. But, of course, on top of that, Germans do what they do best - they enforce you to stay in bed and rest - literally.
German law states that you are not allowed to work in the 8 weeks that you are required to rest. And, your knowledgeable midwife or nurse can answer all of your maternity-related questions. They will equip you with the needed skills to care for your baby without the need of consulting Google 24/7. If that doesn't make you want to grab your passport, what will?
Then you have Finland, which is becoming world-famous for how they spoil mothers. The world now recognises Finland as one of the safest places to give birth in. Apart from the staggeringly lower costs of having a baby (paying around $42/night for your stay at the hospital while the rest of the costs are reimbursed), Finnish parents also get to enjoy lengthy parental leaves.
At 22 weeks in your pregnancy, through your social security system, you will receive a box filled with 63 essentials for you and your baby. You have your mittens, booties, bodysuits, leggings, and even toothbrushes and books. What mother is not going to be spoiled after that?
The Asian Postpartum Invasion
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The best at knowing the importance of rest after giving birth are the Asians. After years and years of witnessing and studying childbirth, Asians know very well how rest for the mum is crucial in the journey towards child-rearing.
The Chinese practice what is known as zuo yue zi, or “sitting the month." Mums who are fresh from the delivery room go straight to a confinement hotel or centre.
During the entire month of their stay, the only person with them is their confinement nannies. Their job is to pamper these mums and give them complete rest for 30 days. Chinese mums get to drink healthy tea, eat high-protein meals, and just enjoy the service of these nannies at their beck and call.
The same happens in South Korea. For three weeks, Korean mums can stay in postpartum care centres where their accommodation includes all their meals, spa treatments, and round-the-clock infant care.
Yes, you read that right - spa treatments. Why are Korean women pampered so much after birth? It's because Asians have studied how much stress childbirth causes. They also saw how complete recovery is absolutely imperative in order for mums to regain their strength to take care of their babies.
When Latinas Know Best
Europeans offer the best maternity benefits, Asians offer the longest recovery period. For Latinas, well, the world does not stereotype them as the wolf-mommas-who-know-best-and-is-the-leader-of-the-family for anything. Post-delivery, Latina mums need to undergo cuarentena which translates to "quarantine" and "forty." So that stands to mean, for 40 days, Latina mums are essentially in lockdown.
The basis for this practice is rooted in the belief that a woman's body is "open" after it delivers a baby. And 40 days apparently is the ideal amount of time for the woman's body to properly close. Within that time, the woman's body is vulnerable to sickness.
So, to avoid any health concerns, mum has to stay in a room. In this room, they can avoid wind or any other source of germs. They are to avoid cold showers, drink plenty of hot fluids, take a break from sex, and bind their abdomen with a faja.
The key concept for a la cuarentena is teamwork. The women in the new mum's family - mother, mother-in-law, sister/s, and cousins all gather to help her be comfortable and prepared for motherhood.
And by support, we're not just referring to household chores and baby-caring duties. We mean mental health support as well. Latina women know how deep postpartum depression can get. And so at la cuarentena, they plan ahead to ensure mums don't suffer from this ailment. Now that's holistic care.
Are you grasping your passport now? So are we. It's nice to see how different cultures see the importance of caring for mothers and not just the baby after birth. And these mums deserve the benefits that they get from their health insurance. For carrying a baby for 9 whole months and for literally tearing your body apart to give birth to them, postpartum care, benefits, and leaves are for sure well-deserved.
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