A simple viral photo has people rethinking childbirth recovery periods

Paper Plate Placenta

At a time when it seems we’re caught up in a sort of Mum Olympics, the speediest recovery from childbirth – the flattest belly, the biggest thigh gap – rewarded with admiring praise, a viral image has stopped many in their tracks.

22cm or 8.6 inches. That is the exact diameter of a paper plate, AKA the fine china in our house. It is also the average…

Posted by Labor of Love – Lancaster, PA on Thursday, 15 March 2018

“22cm”

Labor of Love Doulas shared the image on their Facebook page, and a really important dialogue exploded almost immediately.

“22cm,” the post began. “That is the exact diameter of a paper plate, AKA the fine china in our house. It is also the average diameter of a placenta,” the accompanying caption read.

The placenta – which feeds nutrients to a baby in utero, as well as filtering waste out – is delivered during labour’s third stage, after a baby has been born. It can take anything from 5 minutes to half an hour for the placenta to be expelled from a mum’s body, and hormones spark this final stage of labour and the postpartum contractions that follow.

It’s these contractions that help to compress the blood vessels in the uterus, where the placenta once sat, and close the wound where it was attached.

Read more about the placenta:

Time heals all wounds

Labor of Love are keen to stress that slowing the postpartum period down a little, rather than pushing post-baby bodies to recover speedily, can pay dividends for mother and baby.

“After a baby is born, mothers are told to take it easy for at least 4-6 weeks. There are good reasons for that! One of those reasons is that after the baby is born, mothers are left with a wound on the inside of their uterus where the placenta was attached. That wound will take at least 4-6 weeks to completely heal.”

“During that time they are still susceptible to infection and hemorrhaging. Even if they have a complication-free vaginal delivery and feel okay, they will still need to take care of themselves and not overdo it for those first several weeks postpartum.”

Don’t over-do it!

Of course, those are worst-case scenarios and most new mums recover from their births without complications. That said, the “take it easy” sentiment shouldn’t be ignored. Mums really do need time to recover postpartum, and ideally should do it at their own pace, without too many external pressures. Be they work, other children, domestic to-do lists or unachievable body image messaging.

“To those mothers, rest! To their husbands, partners, parents, in-laws, friends – let them rest! Help out as much as you can and don’t let them overdo it!”

Labor of Love stresses that they aren’t doctors, they’re simply a very experienced birth service keen to shift the focus from “bouncing back” to caring for mums.

“As the saying goes, ‘one week in bed, one week around the bed, and 2 weeks around the house.'”

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