Mothering the Mother

August 18, 2016

Mothering the Mother

Confined to home. No visitors allowed. Special foods only. Lots more restrictions based on your cultural practice. 

Sounds pretty harsh if that's all you hear about Confinement or 40 days post birth. I mean who would sign up for that? After all you just had a baby and you need to be out and about celebrating life isn't it? That's what I thought.  

I had a pretty full on birth but of course I was over the moon with bubby. Sweet, serene, pure bundle that I had just birthed. The planner in me had covered everything before baby arrived - cot, nappies, clothes, nipple cream, every size of maternity pads bla bla. And I say this out of my own experience - you never really truly understand birth unless you actually go through it. Anyway, fast forward coming home with a newborn. I was now a Mother and D was now a Father. Just like that we were "new" people with new roles and responsibilities and a little human to keep safe and alive. 

Living away from my familiar surroundings didn't really get real until I had L. But I was guided by the strong values, traditions and customs (and skype, facetime, phone calls to mom until she got here) that were practiced by most women in my family. 40 days. It's the time where the new woman, now a Mother, is celebrated.

- She is cared for and tended to 24 hours by the elders (mostly women especially on the Maternal side).

- Mother and baby are seldom separated as it's a time for the bond to establish and strengthen which is imperative for the years to come (skin to skin and so on)

- It's a serene time in a Mother's life post birth. Mother is not allowed to cook, all meals are brought to her. Every ingredient is chosen for specific purposes to help heal the body with the loss of blood, to soothe, to enhance sleep, reduce water retention, to promote milk supply, to avoid gas in baby if breastfeeding etc.

- Visitors are limited to avoid disease, excessive strain on the post birth body and for the newborn baby who is adjusting to world outside the womb.

- It's truly a time for Mother to ready her for the journey ahead. The day comprises of warm/hot massages for mama, 4 to 6 small plates of food, lots of sleep, help with establishing breastfeeding and bonding time with baby.

- Baby is given warm gentle massages and is always close to mama.

Of course there are many more rules and restrictions but I didn't follow everything - I had to wash my hair for one, I did sit in the garden to be with Mother Earth - but all in all you get the idea. It's love, care, respect and more for new mother. It also taught me so much about my Mother and possibly mothers around the world. And I have never been more in love with my body - every stretch mark, ever scar, every wound, every ounce of fat - a reminder of the spectacular gift of Motherhood I had received. I'm eternally thankful.

When a baby is born we change to take on new roles to become Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and so on. As they say it takes a village to care and raise a village. (Ok so I tweaked it a bit)

Some other practices from around the world:

- China: 30 days resting and "sitting the month"

- Korea: 100 days after Birth

- Japan: 3 weeks of Ansei i.e. "Peace and quiet with pampering"

- Malaysia: 30 or 44 days includes belly binding, hot stone therapy on tummy to cleanse the womb

- Africa: 10 to 40 days

- Caribbean: 8 to 10 days

- Middle East: About 30 days based on region

What was your regimen after birth? Drop us a line or two...I'd love to hear from you!  



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