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A few years back, I wrote about a study that found nearly one-quarter of employed mothers returned to work within two weeks of giving birth.
Rather than personal preference, of course, this had to do more with the fact that families depended on mothers' paychecks. That's because there is no guaranteed paid maternity leave for new moms in the U.S. So moms are basically forced to do whatever it takes to make ends meet -- even if that means returning to work while their bodies are still trying to heal.
Here's the thing, though: Doctors don't tell new moms to rest and take it easy for roughly 6 weeks after delivery for no reason at all. And this mom's powerful image shows exactly why women need plenty of time to recover after childbirth.
Laura Fry -- a mom and birth advocate who runs the Facebook page, Labor of Love - Lancaster, PA -- recently put things into perspective. Using a paper plate and a tape measure, Fry demonstrated the size of the wound that's left by your placenta after giving birth. For thousands of Facebook users, her post was the "aha!" moment about the toll of childbirth they never knew they needed.
"22cm or 8.6 inches. That is the exact diameter of a paper plate, AKA the fine china in our house. It is also the average diameter of a placenta," Fry wrote on her now-viral Facebook post. "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 this period of time, Fry explained, new moms are susceptible to infection and hemorrhaging. Moms that have all-natural, complication-free deliveries still need to make sure not to overdo it during these first several weeks postpartum.
**Fry later added that she is not a medical professional, and that her post was only meant as common-sense advice for new moms to take it easy.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) just released updated guidelines for postpartum care. The new guidelines recommend women visit their doctor sooner and more often after birth than previously advised.
As a mom of three, I'm well aware that new moms' bodies need time to heal after childbirth. But thinking about an internal wound in my uterus left by an organ the size of a paper plate that's no longer there? It really puts things into perspective.
So yeah. This is exactly why maternity leave is so damn important.
Image shared with permission from Labor of love - Lancaster, PA
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.