After the First 42 Days
In Ayurvedic medicine, there is a saying that goes “the first 42 days are equal to the next 42 years.” And it’s a good one. Protecting the first several weeks – applying a sacred sort-of attitude and hands-off approach (by mother) in this space – is a worthy goal. Your body is adjusting physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to a significant transition. (By significant, we do mean huge.) Interestingly though, there is no magic finish line in which to actually cross at 42 days post-birth… other than perhaps the outdated and overly simplistic mini exam given many new mothers who impart said exam with the clearance for sexual intimacy.
There is a certain amount of pressure we collectively put on hitting that six week postpartum mark.
Whether you miss a level of emotional or physical intimacy with you partner or not (both are normal along the spectrum of postpartum integration and healing), the idea of birthing women being given little other information about their bodies and/or the “life they have ahead” is enough to make the entire birth community raise her hands in uproar. Mothers matter. Birthing humans matter. Your postpartum – beyond the first 42 days – matters.
After the first six weeks.
A wise person once said information times application equals transformation. So, today – we want to focus on applicable ways to dive into the next 1-3 years postpartum.
(Yes, we said 1-3 years.)
Here are a few facts around why we look at the postpartum space as 1-3 years:
- Your hormone levels have changed. And not only have they changed, they have reshaped who you are as a person. Are you lactating? Are you up all night with your babe? It can take months to years for your hormone levels to return to a new baseline or new “normal” range.
- Your baby’s fetal cells are now an integral part of your body. Research proves that decades after giving birth, mothers continue to have fetal cells from their babies floating about. What does this do to our bodies? A lot of good things during pregnancy, and sometimes some challenging things postpartum – including but not limited to autoimmune disease… especially when mother’s aren’t given the time to integrate these new little buddies!
- You may still be healing from nutritional depletion. We know about this one first hand, as many of the families that seek our Ayurvedic services do so because of pre-existing wellness conditions that rose up out of an unsupported or unexpected first birth and/or postpartum space. And lastly,
- Your child is developing quite a bit during this time. Unmet maternal needs mean unmet child needs. This year, 2020 Mom amplified the fact that maternal isolation during the first 1-3 years post-birth (especially year one) can make a lasting negative impact on familial mental health. Our doulas exist to make this a “thing of the past,” by the way.
Doing “differently” in early motherhood.
While our inclination is to throw everything into our “bag of tricks” (it’s a mom thing), we know that just a few really valuable shifts can shape how you thrive the first few years postpartum after birthing babe.
Here are three ideas:
- Build your circle. Rest, relationships, and socio-emotional health all have one thing in common: support. Ask yourself this: Who were/are my support people? If you didn’t make a list and call on people during the first six weeks postpartum, it is never, ever too late. If you don’t have local support people yet, reach out to our doulas for a list of community events or search for mommy groups on social media! We have found some of our favorite people through group get meetups. Tip: add a note to your calendar to reach out to certain friends on certain days of the week. “Just a text to say I miss you!” can be an excellent conversation starter.
- Create structures and/or routines for your experience of motherhood. Ask yourself this: What makes me feel most whole? Reigniting wholeness in motherhood can be as simple as adding in a staple practice that honors your complete well-being – like showering alone every day. You can even uplevel this experience and add some self massage (Abhayanga) with oils to your daily getaway! The word for oil (Sneha) in Sanskrit also means “love.” To be saturated or graciously anointed with oil is believed to have a similar effect as being filled with love. In Ayurvedic care, we place an emphasis on oiling bodies for the protective benefits of experiencing self love.
- Work with someone on your hormonal health and healing. Bodywork, as mentioned above, is foundational in Ayurvedic medicine. But you don’t have to be practicing your bodywork alone. Herbalists, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, massage therapists, Ayurvedic practitioners, naturopaths, chiropractors (and the list goes on!) are all experts in helping you serve your body. Remember, you are the expert in your body. If there is a certain modality calling, consider leaning in.
Does one of these resonate most for you?
Is there a support you applied to your postpartum space that worked really well?
This post isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to thrive the first 1-3 years – but our After the First 42 Days Mini Guide is – she’s in the works for the New Year, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about it’s release!
Your Cherry Blossom Doulas
Hi! I’m Alyssa Leon. I lead Cherry Blossom Doula Services, LLC – an inclusive birth + postpartum doula team in Arizona; and mentor doulas in Arizona and beyond.