Many cultures around the world recognize a sacred period after the birth of a baby, often referred to as the 4th trimester. During this time, often around 40 days, new moms do not leave the house, or sometimes even the bed. The mom is fed nourishing meals to prepare herself physically and mentally to take care of a newborn. These steps allow mom to heal physically from the birth experience and invest in deep rest that will de a reservoir to draw from in the coming months.
No pressure is put on the family, and expectations are no greater than healing, bonding, and pleasure. You may be thinking that honoring this 4th trimester babymoon sounds pretty wonderful, but how can you prepare prior to birth? One suggestion we have is to purchase the book, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Honoring the New Mother by Heng Ou. It is filled with nourishing recipes that are good for the stomach and soul as well as history and advice drawn from many cultures for the first 40 days.
Here are some of our suggestions that might help you adjust a little easier during those first forty days:
Plan to stay in bed. Hang out in your bed, skin to skin with your baby for at least the first week, longer if possible. Spending time in bed with your baby ensures you focus on getting to know each other and allows naps to happen naturally throughout the day. Set up your bedroom to have everything you’ll need in arms reach and even decorate it to feel sweet and special.
Prepare meals ahead of birth. This might mean stocking up on ingredients for special family recipes that make you feel your best, preparing freezer meals, or taking up friend’s offers to bring over a meal.
Accept help from family and friends. If a family members offers to take your toddler to soccer practice, or if a neighbor asks to take your trash cans to the street each week, say yes.
Plan ahead to delegate household chores. Make a list of things that need to be done and who will do them. This may mean lowering your expectations regarding what gets accomplished. As the birthing and breastfeeding mama, focus only on feeding yourself and the baby, getting the proper amount of rest, and enjoying quality bonding. Let someone else bring food to you and do the laundry and dishes.
A healthy and meaningful first 40 days will be different for everyone, but we encourage you to plan for your fourth trimester. It is important to recruit the support to make those first 40 days exactly what you need to heal and fully experience your expanding family.