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African American Postpartum Traditions


In honor of Juneteenth, today's post is dedicated to sharing some knowledge as it relates to African American culture and caring for a mother who had just given birth.

The postpartum period was a sacred time. Because the mother is considered to be “open,” there were customs in place to keep her and her newborn shielded and protected from the outside world. Think of it as her being behind a veil. Everything was bought to her, including her meals, drinks, etc. The reason is because she didn’t need to use too much of her energy. Instead, her main priority was rest and nourishing the baby.

The postpartum period was a communal time. What we see today with visitors flooding in to “see the baby” is not a cultural custom. Women would strategically organize the care of the new mother. They would coordinate meals and share responsibilities such as household chores and caring for the older children.

The postpartum period was spiritual. Black folks have always been a spiritual people. The time after a woman gave birth was no different. This was a time rich in postpartum rituals and ceremonies that helped the mother feel fully supported as she transitioned into her new role. Our ancestors understood it takes a village.

Although times and practices have changed, the need for mothers to receive care and nurturing after giving birth has not. If you know a mom who is expecting or has just given birth, check on her. Ask her how she is doing emotionally. Offer to take her a meal or run an errand. Offer to do dishes or care for the baby while she naps. If you are an expecting or new mom and need assistance planning for your postpartum period, book a free consultation!

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