Birthworkers,  Feminism,  Postnatal

The Patriarchal Language of Postnatal Care

I implore you, as a birthworker, to stop calling postnatal support “pampering”, “spoiling” and other similar words. This word implies indulging and absolute luxury.

It conjures images of spa days and lazing, of the elite being waited on hand and foot.

It implies a classist vision of postnatal care where only those with lots of money and/or status can access it.

Postnatal care is already deeply undervalued in a patriarchal society that still views women and birthing people’s bodies as second class.

This is a patriarchal society whose “care” revolves around technocratic biomedicine that leaves us behind and forgets about us postnatally.

Protecting space for postnatal people is not a luxury. Caring for their bodies as they heal is not pampering. Making sure they are fed, and held and heard is not spoiling. It’s not indulgent. It is simply, human.

This work is doing what families and communities would have once done as second nature but there is no space in our lives to give this.

We have a nuclear family and an expectation and indeed, a created need to be economically productive almost constantly. As a result, not everyone is able to have the first forty days or the fourth trimester held for them.

So whilst right now, some people pay for our services, this work is NOT actually a luxurious service and should not be equated with pampering.

Good postnatal care, nurturing and nourishment should be simple and the right of every postnatal person.

This is not aimed at anyone specific or intended as a judgement, rather it is a call to action, for us all to consider using language more carefully.

How can we work toward a society where we collectively honour this time and provide this care when birth workers themselves use language that upholds the patriarchal status-quo of this being opulent and unattainable??

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