International Women’s Day exists to celebrate the challenges we’ve overcome and the amazing accomplishments we’ve achieved. It’s also a moment to examine where we are now and shine a light on what still needs fixing.
At Lilu, we truly believe moms deserve more. To us, that means building technology to empower new moms. It means focusing our attention on the dark space of breast pumping that’s been neglected by technological innovation for so long. It means a super bowl ad shouldn’t be rejected for painting an accurate picture of the postpartum experience that millions of women experience every day. It means if we can send people into space, we can find ways to make the early days of motherhood easier for women.
Before we can make real change, we need to first listen and understand the struggles moms experience, find out what their needs are and where we can help, and then we need to follow through and do those things for the new moms in our lives.
So we asked some moms about their experiences and what we can do to help other moms in the future.
What's one part of new motherhood you wish you were better prepared you for?
“Postpartum! All the little things nobody really tells you. Like the after birth shakes. Your milk coming in. The breastfeeding contractions.” - Skye H.
“How much takeout I would need the first couple weeks. I wish I made and frozen more meals which I did with [baby] number two!” - Ashley G.
“No one tells you how lonely you will be once your partner goes back to work and the excitement wears off!” - Courtney M.
“Understanding how many people's lives are going to be affected by this new baby. I knew that I wouldn't sleep, I knew that I was going to be caring for my baby and not having my life the way it used to be. But I really didn't fathom how I was going to have to affect so many other people with my new schedule in terms of child care, going to appointments, or getting any work done. I feel like it takes adjusting at least 4 other people's schedules just to get my day done with my son now.” - Gigi M.
“No matter what, it’s hard to be prepared for something you don’t have control over.” - Tequila G.
What does “moms deserve more” mean to you?
“This means everything to me. It means women deserve to have their voices heard during labor and delivery. It means women deserve a better plan to manage postpartum bodies, pains and depression. Most moms are not “ good to go” at the 6-week check-up. It also means way better maternity leave policies.” - Courtney M.
“More support everywhere. Elevators at subways, people that hold the door open for strollers, jobs that encourage fathers to leave before 6:00.” - Ashley G.
“It means that we need to be heard, seen, and acknowledged for all we do and sacrifice. Not just sleep but the time away from our children, the sacrifice of having to return to work earlier than needed, the ability to grow life and to make things happen after baby is here.” - Tequila G.
“We deserve more social and economical backing so that we aren't stressing about going back to work before we are actually healed or afraid we won’t be able to nurse or pump for our children properly from having to go back so quickly. Also more understanding of how natural, and at times difficult, it is to nurse or pump for our children. Not to shame us when we do, or push us to a bathroom stall at work as if it is a dirty deed. We need to support our mother's so they can raise healthy future generations and so they can thrive in health, life, and career.” - Gigi M.
“Moms deserve just as much care and looking after as the baby does. Why is there only one postpartum checkup at 6 weeks? Why do we watch car seat and feeding videos before leaving the hospital but not videos over postpartum and what to expect?” - Skye H.
What can others do to support a mom in the first few days, weeks, and months after giving birth?
“Ask before showing up and send or bring food for the family. Check in often, hold space for her when she’s struggling, do not tell her “ just wait until ___” because the early days are hard enough.” - Courtney M.
“Do not put the mom in a position to simply entertain you in the beginning. If you want to come meet the baby, act as a resource, not just a guest. Bring her food, bring her sugar. Wash her dishes if she wants you to. Help her!!!” - Ashley G.
“Help with cleaning, cooking, if a mother has other kids take them off her hands, employers need to give more paid time off, and emotional support.” - Tequila G.
“You are a mess in so many ways. You're in pain, your body has changed overnight, you aren't sleeping, you have all these new hormones, you have new a baby that you are trying to learn how to take care of as well as take care of your new self. Everything else gets pushed aside. The biggest thing that someone can do is to come and help clean your dishes, clean your house, have food for you, help with the baby so that you can take a shower and possibly a nap. Also just listen. Do not give advice unless asked.” - Gigi M.
“So much. It seems as if the baby is the priority over moms. They should be equal. As a first-time mom especially I had no support. My husband had not a clue what the hormones were doing to me. The nurses at the hospital had no idea how to help our breastfeeding journey. My ob told me it's normal to feel sad, etc. But didn't give me info on [postpartum depression] and when I should reach out for help.” - Skye H.
Lastly, what advice would you give a woman who's about to enter motherhood for the first time?
“Drop ALL your expectations of motherhood, seriously. The way you mother your children will be unique to YOU! Stop comparing and listen to your instincts. Ask for help, take a break, go on a date with your partner. You will be a better mom if you take care of yourself!” - Courtney M.
“The classic THIS TOO SHALL PASS!!! It all does. Nothing is permanent.” - Ashley G.
“Do YOUR research! It doesn’t matter what mom, grandmom, sister, aunt, cousin, doctor, etc. says, do your own research for your knowledge!” - Tequila G.
“The first month sucks, but if you can make it through that you can achieve anything! Just know that it goes by very fast but in that moment it feels like 100 years. So many people don't realize that not only are you trying to care for a brand new baby, but your own body is damaged at that time. You are either changing diapers for yourself from a vaginal birth or you are caring for your wounds from a cesarean. Also when you are so overwhelmed from the crying and lack of sleep, try to stop and stare at that little angel's face and appreciate this moment because in a blink of an eye they are going to be growing. Just appreciate things as they come and fight the battles as they come. You can prepare but you won't know how anything goes until you're in the thick of it.” - Gigi M.
“Your motherhood journey is unique. It will never be the same as somebody else’s! Do your own research because you can't trust others to give their advice.” - Skye H.
Mom issues are women’s issues.
Let’s support one another. Let’s normalize the postpartum experience to educate women, help them feel even a little more prepared, and let them know they're not alone. Let’s join together as women, as partners, as friends, coworkers, scientists, and innovators, and change the future of motherhood for the better.