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Postpartum Math: Therapist’s Reel Addresses New Mom Struggles

There’s girl math, mom math and now postpartum math. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t add up.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published October 19, 2023

At this point, you’ve probably heard of girl math. It’s the latest craze sweeping social media where women rationalize and rethink their spending habits in creative and humorous ways. For instance, say you have $60 worth of clothes to return and then buy something for $70, it really only costs $10. Since debuting a few weeks ago, there have been several fun twists on the concept from boy math to mom math and more, the latest relatable “math” to join the lineup—postpartum math.

In a now-viral video, Kate McReynolds of @the.mom.therapist lays out the “basic principles” of postpartum math. And spoiler alert, it doesn’t make any sense. To start the video off, McReynolds dives into healthcare, pointing out that during a 40-week pregnancy, you’ll likely have 10-15 doctor’s appointments, while postpartum, you’ll only get one or two. If that isn’t enough to get you asking, “why?” McReynolds also notes that during one of those postpartum appointments, you may be told “sexy time” is all good starting at six weeks despite the internal healing process taking 12 weeks at minimum.

Outside of healthcare shortcomings, McReynolds also outlines the struggles of moms returning to work. “Forty weeks of pregnancy plus the amount of time it takes to go through labor or surgery plus the indefinite amount of time it takes to adjust to a major life transition after having a baby equals 6 to 12 weeks off from work,” McReynolds says. “And don’t forget to subtract three months of income because the probability of getting paid during maternity leave is very, very low.”

Not only are moms expected to get back to work just a few weeks after a truly life-altering transition, but they’re also expected to return better than ever. “Productivity and performance levels should increase while hours of sleep decrease,” McReynolds jokes.

McReynolds rounds out her impressive arithmetic with commentary on how moms are praised for weight gain during pregnancy but judged for postpartum weight gain. She also dives into the lack of resources for breastfeeding mothers and how, despite being labeled as “free,” breastfeeding is really anything but free. From the time spent feeding and pumping to the money spent on breastfeeding supplies, consultants and more, breastfeeding can feel like an uphill battle.

If this is enough postpartum math to make your head spin, you aren’t alone. McReynolds herself ends the video with a simple “Can someone get me a calculator!” Care and support for postpartum moms has long been neglected but you can join the fight for better postpartum care. Join postpartum care advocacy groups and look out for your postpartum friends. Sometimes a simple act of kindness or small favor can make all the difference to a mom just struggling to keep her head above water.

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