Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Postpartum care isn't the most widely talked about subject, but it tends to be a very intuitive time in a woman's life. There is so much to be learned of herself and her new baby during this time, yet not too many resources on the best ways to nurture herself as a new mom the first weeks after birth. Those forty days are to be considered a "confinement" period, for optimal rest and healing of the mother's chi (energy), so that she may come back out of this postpartum time, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Our western societal norms prove that after childbirth, women are feeling pressured to be and do everything! Be a new mom and accomplish all the normal household tasks, along with going back to work for some. Intuitively though, a new mom doesn't feel like doing any of those things. So, what is the balance? The book The First Forty Days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou may have some ancient answers to our modern dilemmas.
Her book dives into 5 fundamental insights for a healthy new mother to abide by. These aren't really to be looked at as "rules", but rather elements to be integrated into her lifestyle, with support of her community in a most gentle way the first forty days after giving birth.
So here they are..
*Retreat- "Draw in the circumference of your world in closer."
Putting up a force field against the hustle and bustle chaos out in the world will do wonders for protecting your sacred nest. When the mind is quiet, your world with baby will be too, so take care in finding your peaceful space. Keep unwanted visitors away for these first forty days and stay home from unnecessary trips anywhere.
*Warmth- "Conserve, protect and replenish your life force."
Keeping in heat is essential to the healing process. Warm teas and soups, an extra cozy bedding area to nest in will help illness from settling in. When the uterus becomes cold it has a harder time contracting to its normal size the first few days. Staying warm and keeping your reserves for you and baby will guarantee energy is not being depleted. It will also help with keeping stressful hormones away, so you may relish in your blissful postpartum days.
*Support- "Receive help from your "village" so you can give fully to your baby."
Lose any fears of asking for help. It really does take a village to raise a child and it will serve a new mama to receive, receive, receive as much as possible during this time. Have people drop off food at your doorstep or hire a doula to cook and clean for you. This book holds many recipes for nourishing a new mama and hired help can use it as a guidebook for your preferences.
*Rest- "Create conditions within and without for good sleep and repair."
Having a baby is tremendous work, thats why it's called labor. After this great accomplishment, rest is needed. Its as if labor is taking one long exhale and now you need one loooong inhale. Mama needs a safe and cozy space to lie around to nurse, sleep and be completely comfortable with minimal interruptions.
*Ritual- "Honor the significance and sacredness of this time. "
Remembering to do little things that bring our awareness to what is happening right now. The first forty days are a transition time for new mamas, to claim motherhood in a new way. Tender moments with your little one of nursing with your hot cup of tea or requesting your beloved bring fresh flowers every week will honor these moments. Allowing time for a hot bath every once and awhile with the help of a trusted doula or friend to watch your little one or writing in a journal how you're feeling during this new experience can all be beautiful rituals as well.
Remembering that a new mother's postpartum period is a series of fleeting moments, helps us embrace this time to support her more than ever. When a mama sees the importance of the new mother/ newborn experience, she can use it as a catalyst to rebirth herself, a new and radiant version of herself. It only takes a little extra care and awareness of her true needs during this time and she will feel those effects for the rest of her life.