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The Year after Childbirth

I’m reading The Year After Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger.  I love this book. 

Here are a few gems from the first chapter about the first weeks postpartum:

“The ordinary divisions of time–into morning, afternoon, evening, and night, and before and after meals–have lost meaning.  In their place there seems to be a long, uncoiling, endless ribbon–feeding, changing, cleaning up, soothing and rocking and patting, starting the laundry, tidying up a bit, feeding again, bouncing the baby up and down, managing to wash yourself and pull on some clothes if you’re lucky, feeding again, carrying the baby around, drying the baby things, grabbing something to eat, picking the baby up, feeding, dashing to the shops, and then feeding again because the baby is still fretful.  There is never any point at which you can say that you have finished.”

“Some new mothers say that they did not know what tiredness was until they experienced the exhaustion that comes from straining every nerve, concentrating with set purpose on doing everything right with a new baby, while at the same time feeling powerful emotions…For the tiredness is not just a question of needing more sleep, or of trying to fit everything into a twenty-four hour day that seems suddenly to have shrunk.  The emotional intensity of becoming a mother and caring for a new baby is in itself demanding.” 

“Maternal emotions are urgent, raw.”

“For several months after birth it is normal to be in a heightened emotional state.”

“Yes, there are times when you lose all self-confidence and feel that you are a terrible mother and a failure as a woman.  But there are other times when you feel a luxurious contentment, like a cat who has been at the cream.”

Sheila Kitzinger is a social anthropologist and writes many wonderful words about women, babies, and birth.

While I love the words, Norah loves the pictures.  After flipping through the pages on our drive to the coast, she drew some detailed pictures of perineal tears and episiotomies.  Oh well.  Maybe she has a future in medical illustrations?