Creating a Space for Postpartum Healing
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You’ve just given birth. You have stepped away from the marathon of creating and bringing forth new life, and it’s time to recover. Have you ever thought about recovery as a sacred space? Ancient wisdom teachings have honored generations of women and birthing folks through simple (and sometimes quite luxurious) care practices for the postpartum space. We believe it’s time to embody that wisdom (again) now. Now, as more women, mothers and families encounter higher rates of mental un-wellness and the lasting physiological needs that come from not fully occupying their bodies and lives with the kind of patience, kindness and gentleness necessary that they/we might thrive.
Something you’ll often hear us say to our postpartum families is this:
Your first 42 days are equal to your next 42 years.
This ages-old statement in Ayurvedic medicine is not only why “the time is now” to tend to your body and life; but it is also the foundational knowledge that we can pass on to our precious kids. Do you want to see this next generation do better than the last? No pressure, but it’s up to you and me!
On this note, let’s begin envisioning a better way forward.
Are you ready?
A shift in your vision
What we focus on, we move towards.
The nursery isn’t complete and you’ve been so frustrated that the paint colors aren’t matching. The crib was way more difficult to put together than the instructions, YouTube and your best friend implied. And you aren’t sure on a theme… still. And baby is due next month!
Pause and take a breath with me right now.
One more now.
Seriously, I don’t want you to waste one more minute on this undue anxiety and stress!
Now, begin to envision what your best postpartum looks like…
How much time do you plan on spending in your nursery?
If you are listening to midwife and Traditional postpartum advice, you won’t be spending much time there in the first few weeks. In fact, you may not even spend much time there for the first few months! Your postpartum body and your new baby need the benefits of a confinement period (we’ll chat about this in a moment); and, most babies are safer in your room for the first few months.
On this note, did you know that room-sharing with your infant can decrease the risk of SIDS?
The AAP’s room-sharing without bed-sharing recommendation is based on case-control studies in England, New Zealand, and Scotland, which have demonstrated that room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS compared with solitary sleeping.” 1
So, while it might feel good to get that nursery done – and you will eventually, perhaps, use it for everything from playtime to naps, know that your sights can be on other areas of the house to set in order. In particular… your own bedroom!
All about confinement
For todays busy parents, the idea of confinement can sound like a scary one. Why? Because for many, we must put aside “productivity culture”. But don’t worry, as you set down the hustle and the grind – you’re picking up something even better. And this, dear one, is sweet, sweet presence. The benefits of which will increase your mental wellness, longevity and joy in this one precious life!
In every culture outside of America, mothers take anywhere from 7-70 days to heal their bodies post-birth. In Ayurvedic medicine, the number of days is 42. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, an offshoot of Ayurvedic medicine, it is 40.
So around here, we focus on your first 42 days or six weeks postpartum.
This begins with taking midwife advice of five days in the bed, five days by the bed, and then five days around your home before taking much time outside of it. And then, occupying your bedroom frequently for feeding your baby, quiet time, nervous system “resets” and naps. Which means, you’ll want to create a beautiful, wonderful oh-so-sacred space for your postpartum healing there. In your bedroom.
That nursery you’re working on? Consider it a bonus.
A sanctuary for postpartum healing
Imagine what it might be like to be birthed for the first time. You’ve been in the protective bubble of a womb for quite some time, right? There, the ambiance is lovely… soft peach lighting, humidity and warmth abound. A steady rhythm of a heart beating keeps you connected to the moment, this moment. And then, it’s gone. You trade this simple, sweet reality for the harshness of bright lights and television sets and dogs barking. But, do you have to?
When working with my clients, I’ll often ask them questions about the space that they and baby spend the most of their time in. Is it soft and welcoming? Does it feel like you’ve recreated a womb space for you and babe/babies? Or, do you think some shifts might be necessary to really support this season?
Here are some really easy things that you can do right now to recreate the womb environment in your bedroom:
- make sure that dim/peach lighting are possible
- assess your décor; does it feel warm and inviting? what might make it more so? do you need to purchase a lighter weight blanket if you plan on co-sleeping safely? do you have any low maintenance plants you can bring into your bedroom? what about hanging affirmation cards?
- if you have a television in your bedroom, consider not using it immediately postpartum; if you must, then keeping it at a low level will be supportive to everyone’s nervous system – but especially mom and babe
- for noise that does benefit the whole family, consider a sound machine, white noise and/or the use of baroque period music (proven to reduce incidence of postpartum anxiety and depression), and finally,
- consider if your room needs a humidifier – as a team of postpartum doulas serving Arizona families, we know desert life can keep nasal passages and lips pretty dry! humidifiers are a must-have around here
Have you already birthed? What would you add to this list?
If you didn’t think about postpartum recovery as a sacred space before this article, we hope your thoughts have shifted. Ancient wisdom teachings can honor this generation of women and birthing people. We are so glad to offer our support in accessing this wisdom both virtually and in Arizona homes.
Your questions and inquiries in postpartum doula care and support are welcome and invited. Please click here to get in touch with us or check out our offerings!
This post was written by our Director of Postpartum Care and Ayurvedic Postpartum Specialist, Jennifer Magnano (above left). You can find more conversations like these on our postpartum Instagram page: @cherryblossompostpartum. We can’t wait to see you there!
1 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment
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.