Katie Bowman is the mom behind the successful blog, Living My Family Life. She has three kids — a pair of twins and their older sister. On Facebook, she calls her blog "an oversharing mess of motherhood." And recently, she went totally viral when she posted a picture of herself in the hospital mere hours after giving birth.
Her goal with the post was to make people think about just how traumatic giving birth is for a new parent, and to consider that before they barge into the hospital room ready to visit with the new baby. Katie's post garnered over 41,000 reactions, 88,000 shares, and 12,000 comments because so many people could relate.
"A picture really is worth 1000 words, she writes. "This is me, roughly 24 hours after giving birth to my eldest. I have no idea who took the picture, but you can probably already tell how I feel just by looking at it. One or two days. Is that too much to ask for? One or two days for a new mum to come to terms with the fact that she had a tiny human emerge from her body.
"One or two days for her to finally have a shower and wash the sweat and blood from her body. One or two days for her to push through the pain of her sore nipples as she learns to breastfeed. One or two days for her to try to have some sleep because she is absolutely exhausted."
It's a terrible fact that when a new baby is born, all energy goes toward the baby. It's easy to instantly forget that the person who brought this baby into the world has a body that just went through some major trauma, whether they delivered naturally or by c-section. People sort of expect that brand new moms all of a sudden can walk and feed their baby and be utterly happy, no problem.
We forget that their bodies need time to recover, that they've probably been awake for more than 24 hours, that their insides were just rearranged. All Katie asks is that you give a person who just gave birth one or two days to sleep, to take a shower, to rest, and to recover.
She writes, "Before being introduced to your new life as a mother, you have just gone through one of the most painful, exhausting, and mind-blowing experiences in your life. Labor. Has everyone forgotten how tolling it can be on both your emotional and physical well being? The last thing you then want is for everyone to be bombarding your room to play pass the parcel before you have even had a chance to recover."
She reminds people that "learning to breastfeed is no private affair." It's hard, and it can be emotional. Not to mention, the rest of your body is also in pain. "You struggle to get comfortable in that hard hospital bed, because no position feels OK," she writes. Everyone wants a picture with the baby, so mom gets pushed to the wayside.
"Everyone wants the bragging rights to say they saw the new baby within 24 hours," she writes. "They simply must satisfy their need to hold this new baby. If you don’t allow them to come visit you in the hospital, you’re a selfish, delicate, drama queen."
Katie acknowledges that some new moms are probably excited to have visitors that soon after giving birth, but "that's not what this is about," she writes. "This is about people who have tried to ask visitors to wait a day or two but been made to feel like they told them they can't be in the baby's life."
She implores people to remember how she looks in that first picture, how tired and defeated, the next time someone they know has a baby. "I know you are excited," she wrote, "but remember it is not your right to visit a new baby, it is a privilege." I honestly didn't know people were so heartless when it came to visiting new moms in the hospital, but this seems to be a rampant problem because so many people were grateful for Katie's post.
"Everything you said was so true," one commenter wrote. "My husband's aunt and grandma still don't talk to us because I asked if they could wait a couple days to see our son because I was overwhelmed and that was almost seven years ago."
"My first birth was a nightmare," another wrote. "People I didn't invite were passing my baby around soon as I gave birth. My mother was breathing down my neck to hand her my child before I had even got the chance to hold her. I didn't even get the chance to do skin-to-skin contact."
Yet another woman wrote, "100% yes! I remember feeling like my hospital room had become a public place for anyone to come and go. As an introvert I struggled feeling I had nowhere to go to get away from everyone and no control over who came or how long they stayed for."
This is horrifying! For Pete's sake, give new parents the privacy and time to recover they so desperately need when they give birth. It's exciting to meet a new baby. I get it. But maybe for one second think about what that person just went through not long ago to bring that baby into the world. And give them a day. Or two. Or three.