“Blessed be all the mothers of mothers.
Blessed be all the daughters of daughters.
Blessed be all the daughters of mothers.
Blessed be all the mothers of daughters.
Now and forever, wherever we are.” –Diann L. Neu
In Uganda there is a special word that means “mother of a newborn”–nakawere. According to the book Mothering the New Mother, “this word and the special treatment that goes with it apply to a woman following every birth, not only the first one. The massages, the foods, the care, ‘they have to take care of you in a special way for about a month.'”
There is a special word in Korea as well. Referring to the “mother of a newborn child,” san mo describes “a woman every time she has had a baby. Extended family and neighbors who act as family care for older children and for the new mother. ‘This lasts about twenty-one days…they take special care of you.'”
These concepts–and the lack of a similar one in American culture–remind me of a quote from Sheila Kitzinger that I use when talking about postpartum: “In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture.” Another quote I use is an Asian proverb paraphrased in the book Fathers at Birth: “The way a woman cares for herself postpartum determines how long she will live.”
Dana Raphael, the author of Breastfeeding: The Tender Gift, who is best known for coining the word “doula” as it is presently used, also coined another valuable term: matrescense. “Nothing changes life as dramatically as having a child. And there was no word to describe that. So we invented the word–matrescence–becoming a mother.”
Happy Mother’s Day to mothers around the world!
Want to find out what mothers really want? Check out the newest Listening to Mothers survey results: Listening to Mothers III: Report of the Third National U.S. Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences
Other Mother’s Day reads:
This is a modified repost of a previous post for Citizens for Midwifery. It is being crossposted today at CfM, Talk Birth, and Pagan Families.