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
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.