This is the once in a life time, never to be had again, first month after your baby arrives. Many cultures have terms for this month – confinement, staying in or the first 40 days.
I love the term Golden Month although I know sometimes it can seem more like a sleepless, tiring month full of learning.
The basic idea of the Golden Month is for mum and baby to stay close to home. To put no pressure on themselves to do anything or to see anyone.
Very few of us in Western cultures realise the importance and preciousness of those early weeks after giving birth. Eastern cultures and Traditional Chinese Medicine have lots of practices, advice, rituals and philosophies about the post-natal period.
In the first 4 to 6 weeks after birthing your baby there are a few things that will make a profound difference to your recovery and adjustment to motherhood on all levels… mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Nourishing: Your body needs replenishing, warming and nourishing foods. Bone broths are fabulous, even during summer. Protein rich foods and lots of cooked vegies are easy to digest and will build breastmilk and blood. Chicken soup really is good for the body and the soul.
Nurturing: I can’t recommend post-natal massage highly enough. A massage a week for 6 weeks will support your emotional and physical recovery. It’s best if the massage therapist comes to you.
Nesting: Prior to your birth you probably had that irresistible urge to clean and scrub. We do that, so our home is prepared for our new baby. We create a nest where we can have privacy and time to bond. Take that time. Stay in your nest.
Its natural and beneficial to withdraw from the world and protect yourself and your new baby from the busy-ness and harshness of life. Many women and their partners create a safe, nurturing and beautiful space to be in labour. They will light candles, have beautiful calming music, dim lighting, aromatherapy etc. It’s just as beneficial to maintain that kind of sacred space once your baby is born. Calmness is contagious and if mum is relaxed and peaceful, baby will follow suit.
For those first few weeks after birth a mum’s energy field and her heart are wide open. Its far more beneficial to spend that time in a soothing environment in your own home and in nature than to try to be superwoman and take a very fresh bub to the supermarket or a football game. It’s also better to minimise visitors and cocoon your baby in your energy field as much as possible. Cancel all social events for at least 6 weeks and learn to say no.
If you can, delegate the laundry, the kitchen and the housework to someone else.
For your Golden Month, you should have 3 priorities:
Your body and spirit have gone through a huge change. This takes time to recover from. Go slow and be gentle with yourself. Your perineum may need looking after and those stomach and pelvic muscles can take time to adjust to no longer supporting a baby. Recuperation is highly underrated in our culture.
Spend 4 weeks snuggled in bed or on the couch. Fall in love with that baby every day. Loads of eye contact, milky kisses and whispering sweet nothings in on the agenda!
Breastfeeding is a skill which takes around 6 weeks to master for most of us. If you want to and are able to breastfeed, I highly recommend setting yourself a 6 week goal. During this 6 weeks, you should be well supported and getting professional help with your feeding. This shouldn’t be about 6 weeks of struggle – it’s 6 weeks of education and learning.
Your job is to care for your baby. The job of your support network is to care for you.