Viral Plate Photo Captures Exactly Why Women Need 4-6 Weeks to Recover From Giving Birth

paper plate labor analogy photo
Labor of Love/Facebook

Childbirth -- it's not the easiest experience of a woman's life. It's painful, it's bloody, it's agonizing, there's a lot of pain, and did we mention it hurts? But sometimes people forget that once women get through the birth part, there are also then weeks and weeks of recovery that need to take place. And to make crystal clear just how intense that recovery is, you're going to want to look at this image of a dinner plate that someone posted to Facebook recently.

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Nightmares, meet a standard 8.6-inch Dixie-brand paper plate. This happens to be, as the Facebook page Labor of Love points out, the diameter of the average placenta. You know, the placenta that used to be attached to our insides that then has to come outside after our baby is born, leaving a huge wound in its place.


Labor of Love/Facebook

That, as they say, is going to leave a mark.

Here's how Labor of Love puts it: 

"After a baby is born, mothers are told to take it easy for at least 4-6 weeks. There are good reasons for that! One of those reasons is that after the baby is born, mothers are left with a wound on the inside of their uterus where the placenta was attached. That wound will take at least 4-6 weeks to completely heal. During that time they are still susceptible to infection and hemorrhaging."

A hemorrhaging wound? Sounds like maybe someone else should help out with the dishes and not ask us to have sex for a while, huh?

Despite how grueling labor and delivery are, many women feel pressured to get on their feet and help out around the house as soon as possible after giving birth. This is also, unfortunately, the unavoidable reality for most women, who may have other children to care for and who may not have extended family nearby to help out.

Even women who give birth without any complications should be getting a lot more rest than we currently allow them. Wrote Labor of Love: "Even if they have a complication-free vaginal delivery and feel okay, they will still need to take care of themselves and not overdo it for those first several weeks postpartum. To those mothers, rest! To their husbands, partners, parents, in-laws, friends - let them rest! Help out as much as you can and don't let them overdo it! As the saying goes 'one week in bed, one week around the bed, and 2 weeks around the house.'"

Unfortunately, this need for new moms to get up and get moving is amplified by the fact that: less than 20 percent of US employers offer paid paternity leave; for lesbian couples, the partner of the woman who gives birth may not be recognized as a parent and therefore may not get any paid leave at all; the US is the only country in the developed world that is not required to give new mothers paid leave; the average amount of paid maternity leave for qualified, full-time employees is four weeks; and if women work part-time or don't work for a company with great post-baby benefits like Apple or Starbucks, the average mom can expect to be back at work 10 days after she delivers.

But ... dinner plate–sized wound? Oh well.

If anything, Labor of Love's image is a good reminder of the trauma women's bodies go through in childbirth and should encourage us to ask for more help and accept it when it comes our way during those first few weeks after we deliver. As the page's author added: "Listen to your body and take care of yourself!"

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