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Resting after Childbirth
by Melanie Brown Waxman

For the first few weeks after birth, it is vital for the mother and baby to rest and adjust to their new life. In cultures throughout the world, resting is considered an important part of recuperation. In India, the mother and baby rest in bed for eleven days and are then given a bath.

A special party is given at that time to celebrate the arrival of new life. In Indonesia and Malaysia, on weekly basis, the new mother has a massage, using oils and special herbs, which help her body to return to its natural condition. The women's stomach is also wrapped with a sarong to support and strengthen the muscles. In Europe, the resting period is up to six weeks. In many Catholic countries the baby remains in the home until he is christened.

The actual length of time of lying-in varies slightly but it is generally considered that at a number of weeks are necessary for the mother and baby to remain at home. After birth, the baby needs to be kept quiet so he can get used it to his new environment.

During this period he should receive little stimulation and stay inside and close to the mother. This is very important because the baby's internal condition is not yet stable and his bones need time to realign after labor. Too many visitors and loud noise can make him more demanding and fussy. This is considered a special time for the mother and baby to bond and get to know each other.

In many traditional cultures, it is recommended that the mother should remain in bed for up to two weeks. Complete bed rest enables her to recover more quickly from the effects of pregnancy and labor. Family, relatives and friends are asked to help out with the cooking, cleaning and to take care of the other children. The mother is encouraged to rest completely with little reading, television or talking on the phone. These activities are considered too stimulating and detract from the natural healing process. Visitors are also kept to a minimum.

After the baby is born, mothers often feel a strong surge of vitality, which can give them a false sense of euphoria. At this time, a woman's energy is needed to heal her body after the exhaustive process of labor and delivery and is best directed internally. Many mothers make the mistake of feeling so good that they rush to get up and go out shopping or to visit friends. However if you don't get sufficient rest in the first few weeks, you can feel very tired and depleted in the months to follow. If the mother is tired then the baby will become more demanding and cranky.

In order achieve the rest you need when the baby is born, it is a good idea to have everything organized before you go into labor. Set up a schedule with your friends and family so that they can come and help with the household duties and cooking. If one person cannot stay the whole time, have different people come on certain days and make a list of things for them to do.

Immediately after you have had the baby, rest in bed as much as you can. Lying horizontally will allow the uterus to return to its normal condition and prevent excessive after birth bleeding. Bed rest will also help you to produce rich, nourishing milk for your baby. Breast-feeding actually aids in the contraction of the uterus, which is stimulated by the sucking action of the baby. Some women experience strong post birth contractions especially after one child. During these contractions you can lie on your stomach which is soothing and brings relief.

Drinking a warm tea known as Kukicha is also beneficial in easing the pain of post birth contractions. Kukicha is a tea that comes from the twigs of the tea plant and is very mild in flavor. This tea can be found in natural food stores. A small amount of rice syrup may be added for a mild, sweet taste. Kukicha can ' also be fed to the baby with an eyedropper if he experiences colic. It is a good idea to keep a thermos of tea by your bed in case you get thirsty during the night.

Make sure that you eat a variety of nourishing, healthy foods immediately after delivery and in the following weeks. The extra care you give yourself will ensure the well being of both you and your baby. A balanced diet will speed up your recovery time and help to give you more strength, stamina and vitality. Avoid eating excessive amounts of animal food. Saturated animal fat causes the uterine tissues to become hard and more rigid which can create unnecessary pain. Excessive use of cold foods, fruits and sugar will slow down the healing process and can cause prolonged bleeding.

Keep your daily activities to a minimum and walk around as little as possible. Lying down sends your energy deep inside the body, whereas walking or moving brings your energy to the surface. For at least six weeks think of rest as the priority, along with caring for the new baby. Avoid lifting heavy objects and going up and down stairs too much.

When you start to go outside, take short walks rather than long ones. Although many new mothers feel impatient during this time and want to do more, lying-in is a time for you to nourish and pamper yourself and your baby. Then with your re-newed strength and vitality you can relish the joys of motherhood.


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