Growing and birthing a baby takes a lot of energy. In many cultures, the time after the birth is treated with reverence. It is believed, that many chronic ailments can be cured during the postpartum time, as long as the mother is cared for properly. It is considered a potent time for healing and renewal. However, if the new mother isn’t given the right support, it is a time that she is susceptible to physical and emotional burn-out. In modern society, many women feel fatigued and postpartum depression effects around 1 in 6 people.
There are many practices and rituals that help the new mother to heal. In China, the 4-6 weeks after birth is known as the golden month, also known as ‘sitting the month’. There is a belief that proper postpartum care effects a woman for the rest of her life.
The main focus during this time is helping the mother to rest and recover and learn to feed and bond with her baby.
Many people have heard that it’s important to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’. This can be difficult in modern society especially if it’s not the mothers first baby. During pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have a think about how you can get the help you need so you can take time to rest during your postpartum. Are there grandparents that can help with older babies? Can you hire a cleaner to help with the household chores? Have you considered a postpartum doula to help with cooking you nourishing foods?
Nourishing foods are important for rebuilding strength. During postpartum, soups and stews are great for helping the mother to heal. As mentioned before, get help with this. Either cook during the last month of pregnancy and store these meals frozen or enlist some help in the early days so others can cook for the mother so she can rest.
Traditionally, during the golden month, the mother would stay indoors.
Every body is different with their needs. Have a think about who you could call on for emotional support. Do you want visitors? Who do you know that really understands your needs and can support you in the way you would like to be cared for?
Warmth is important to help restore health and vitality. Traditionally, the new mother would not shower or wash her hair in case she caught a chill. Today, we have the ability to heat our water and heat our homes. Hot showers and baths are great for warming the body and improving circulation. You can also use heat packs and have hot drinks to help keep your body at a good temperature.
While many women may not want to stay ‘confined’ in their home for a month, at least take time to rest, eat well and accept help. By mothering the mother, she can better bond and take care of her newborn. The benefits last well beyond the postpartum time.