Katy Tur on the Challenges of Postpartum and Importance of Parental Leave

motherhood, postpartum, postpartum recovery, paid parental leave, parental leave, katy tur, msnbc
When Katy Tur returned to work as an MSNBC anchor yesterday after five months of leave, she made sure to discuss her postpartum and parental leave experiences.

1. C-section Recovery

Like many moms, Katy had an unplanned C-section. For many mothers, like myself, this means not being mentally prepared for the major surgery you are about to undergo. Then, comes recovery. As Katy put it, after having a C-section it is nearly "impossible to sit up without help" and the incision can become infected. Katy said hers did, which her husband noticed because she was "too afraid to look down there." I felt the same exact way. I think it took me weeks to even touch my incision let alone look at it. I was scared at what it would look like because if it hurt that bad, I couldn't imagine how gory it might appear. Eventually, I was pleasantly surprised at how well my incisions healed but each time, it took months to get there.

2. Breastfeeding Challenges

Katy discussed how her son was born over six pounds but weighed under six pounds shortly thereafter. Newborn weight loss is normal, especially for breastfed babies, but it is a stressor for new mothers. As Katy put it, "breast milk is not the instant grab and go ready made meal you think it is before you suddenly try to produce it." It takes time, patience and hard work to breastfeed your baby.

3. Severe Exhaustion + Postpartum Mental Health

The postpartum period in the hospital is not a relaxing time for many moms. It is a period of extreme exhaustion. You just had a baby and now you have to care for the brand new baby who seems to want to drink a lot of milk or cry or fall asleep. Katy explained she was "so tired she lived a kind of waking dream." She actually thought her "mother-in-law hiding under the bed" and "tall man [was] standing over [her] speaking German." When she told the nurses thinking they'd understand or laugh, they "sent a whole psychiatric team to evaluate." This could be daunting for a new mom, but also important to make sure she is not suffering from postpartum mental health issues.

4. Leaving the Hospital

I remember leaving the hospital and arriving home after bringing my firstborn home. I felt a fear and anxiety I never had before--I never cared for a newborn before! A part of me wanted my mom to stay over and help us but a bigger part of me knew my husband and I could handle it and figure it out together. Katy explained feeling similarly "terrified" to be alone with her baby,  feeling like she did not know what to do. Thankfully, a nurse reassured her that her husband could be a big help. It's important that moms know it is okay to lean on spouses, partners, family and/or friends, who oftentimes are eager to help.

5. Parental Leave

Katy's experience was not extraordinary, as she said. What set her apart was that she was able to take five months of parental leave. Unfortunately, 25% of mothers return to work after two weeks. 70% fathers return to work after 10 days or less. I can't imagine the emotions of returning to work so soon. This is not okay, as bonding with your baby should be priority in the first few months. As Katy said, there continues to be a pressing need for paid parental leave. "Parents need time with their babies and babies need time with their parents... Family leave supports babies, which supports us all. "

I applaud Katy for discussing these very real and normal experiences. She spoke up about experiences other moms might be ashamed to experience. In doing so, she is helping to normalize and validate postpartum experiences like hers. 

Click here to watch Katy's segment. 

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