Giving birth can be massively overwhelming. Postpartum lying in allows you to bond with your baby and rest your body after giving birth.
I gave birth to my second baby eight weeks ago and I was massively influenced by other mothers on Instagram in a variety of positive ways.
Through social media, I learned about the idea of a postpartum “meal train” which I had never come across before. I also learned about the art of “lying in” which was a completely new concept to me.
If you are not already following Orlaith Donlon on Instagram, I highly recommend you do. Her feed is full to the brim of dreamy new-born bliss. After a difficult pregnancy (she had severe hyperemesis) she has been soaking up the fourth trimester in really beautiful ways.
She is a trained midwife and a wealth of knowledge about all things pregnancy and baby. I was delighted to see her shedding light on the ancient tradition of “lying in” when your new baby comes along. So, what is “lying in”? In one sense it does exactly what it says on the tin. In a nutshell, lying in involves a huge amount of lying down and being home with your baby.
It is centred around the idea that with enough rest a mother can heal better from the birth. This healing is both physical and emotional. In this sense “lying in” shines a spotlight on the healing powers of simply resting. Unfortunately, so many women do not plan for this period of rest when the baby arrives.
“Lying in” can mean different things for different women and families. When there are other children in the house it may determine some of the logistics of your lying in. For example, it might just happen on the couch or even at a home that is not your own.
There is a huge amount of pressure on women to “bounce back” after they have had a baby. Social media can paint a very unrealistic picture of what postpartum looks and feel like. You might notice women eating out and wearing their regular clothes just days after giving birth.
This can result in a level of expectation for new mums that is just simply not the case. The realities of the postpartum stage can differ from woman to woman, but it is an undeniably vulnerable time for all mothers. Having the opportunity to heal from the birth and bond with your baby is crucial.
Through “lying in” we are essentially ensuring that the mother is taken care of. In turn, she can take care of the baby in a much easier way. With lots of skin to skin time, the oxytocin will be flowing for both mother and baby. It helps with breastfeeding in a huge number of ways also.
When mama is feeding the baby, someone should be feeding mama. During this period of “lying in” the new mother should not be worrying about house-work or meal prep. For this reason, it is a good idea to plan for this stage. Speak to your partner and make it a given. You could do some batch cooking and enlist the help of others ahead of time to make this time possible.
During this tradition, women are encouraged to soak up their baby while resting their bodies. They should be waited on, offered their favourite food and drinks and rewarded and cared for after the miracle of bringing a baby into this world.
In modern times “lying in” might seem out of your reach or a luxury that you cannot acquire but it could really and truly make all the difference as you embark on a new parenting journey. To see “lying in” in the flesh, take a look at Orlaith’s stunning account (and equally stunning baby Rua).