Hi Mama (and friends of Mama’s, partners of Mama’s and all Papa’s out there)
Slowly emerging from the postpartum birthing cave I am thinking of you. 7 weeks ago I birthed by daughter into this world and just like a bear who’s been hibernating I too and feel the calling to stand up, stretch my arms out high, let out a morning yawn and start to jostle myself into getting ‘up and at ’em’ once again. This postpartum experience was very different to my first baby. This time around I wanted to fully create a sacred bubble of healing, restoration, replenishment and bonding for myself and my family. You see, what I learnt the first time around was that the body, mind and soul (both yours and your baby’s) needs time to readjust, to stay soft, raw and vulnerable and to gently, in divine and perfect timing, take form into your new life together as two seperate beings. Birth is an initiation of the highest degree and quite literally an invitation to a new life. This sacred time after the babies arrival is so luscious in it’s overflowing unconditional love and yet the body can feel, at the same time, excruciating pain and sensations stretching beyond thresholds you once felt. It is a time of expansion of the heart and soul. It is a primal time of survival; eat, drink, sleep, poo, repeat! You can read more about my experience here.
Traditionally the first 40 days after the birth of a child is an essential period of rest and recovery for the new mother which is celebrated in various shades in almost every culture except in the west. I became so curious as to why they hold this time in such reverence. My curiosity led my on and exciting journey. I heavily researched postpartum traditions during pregnancy becoming fascinated with the way in which different cultures honour the healing aspect of the Mother which needs to take place after the birth. “How beautiful it is to experience this time of ‘newness’ being fully taken care of in every possible way” I thought to myself as I read over different traditions, experiences and practices from all around the globe. During pregnancy I became fully aware of how much I desired to really create this experience, in my own modern way for myself.
It is a lost art and practice in our western worlds as most mothers are pushed to prematurely “bounce back” after birthing their babies. Most of the western women I spoke to about it did not take this time for themselves to truly rest and recover as they needed to after birthing navigating this highly emotional time feeling somewhat lost, lonely and overwhelmed. I cried with many of my friends as they recalled their experiences openly and honestly and we spoke about how far the repercussions extended; to their body’s, their relationships and beyond. I definitely was under the illusion I had to ‘bounce back’ after my first pregnancy and didn’t give myself permission to stay vulnerable, soft and raw like I so desperately desired. This time around I wanted to give myself permission to feel the radiant feminine healing intuitive energy cursing through my flesh and blood, to cry, to laugh and be present with whatever came up for me and my family. I wanted to give my body the tenderness and compassion it needed after literally bringing life into this world. To honor the work my own flesh and blood had done!
I drew upon inspirations I found in Chinese rituals, Ayurvedic practices and my own herbal and nutritional knowledge as a naturopath and of course my own guided intuition. I spoke to Mothers who had carved out this scared “4th trimester” bubble for themselves and asked them what they did and how it felt in their hearts, in their bodies. I gathered an enormous amount of support and encouragement from my Balinese friends who shared with me the insights from their cultural traditions. It was so beautiful to get to share the stories and experiences from so many and it helped in shaping my intentions for my own experience and wishes for my baby and family.
So below I share some of the things I did in hope that it will inspire you or your loved ones to take exceptional care of the Mother in this sacred time so that she comes out of the cave feeling strong, empowered, fully restored and ready to take on whatever Motherhood has in store for her.
“There is no way to be a perfect Mother, but a million ways to be a good one”.
With so much Love,
The ancient art of literally wrapping the body stomach to support and comfort the muscles, skin and internal organs to repair and find their places once again after the baby has left the building. There are so many expensive belts and girdles on the market. I opted for a long piece of organic material that was gifted to my by dear friends so it felt extra special. (Check her’s out here) My husband and midwife wrapped my tummy everyday for about 2 weeks and then every other day. I loved the snug feeling of all of your insides being supported.
I kept as warm as possible within myself and my body. Warm helps to accelerate the healing potential of the body and aide in the restoration of cells and energy. I had no raw or cold foods during this time (with the exception of cold pressed juice I had daily at room temperature) I had a daily baths soaking in epsom salts, loose dried herbs (lavender, chamomile and calendula are my favorite) essential oils with a little bit of coconut oil added too. I covered my feet in hemp seed oil everyday and put socks on to restore the chi/energy/life force in my body. Had lots of heat packs and hot water bottles and kept my throat covered with soft comforting scarves.
This book is a game changer! The First Forty Days by Heng Ou. I made so many of these recipes, cried over the honest wisdom shared, and loved looking at all the pictures. I based a lot of what I did for my postpartum experience from this book. It truly was an essential for me that I read and re-read and will endeavor to give to every pregnant Mama I know!
Herbs and Supplements
My Naturopath friends (God bless them) put care packages together for me consisting of specific herbs and supplements to help restore my uterus, decrease inflammation, increase the healing potential of my cells, build my immunity, help with milk flow and keep my nervous system balanced. I noticed such a huge difference having this support inside my body and definitely recommend seeing a Naturopath before you birth so you have all you need for postpartum recovery after the birth, it makes the world of difference.
I used homeopathic remedies all through my pregnancy and in my labour. I took them immediately after birth and continued in the first few weeks of postpartum. They helped me so much!! There are some incredible ‘birthing kits’ you can buy now which covers everything, highly recommend them!
Oils, creams and potions
I kept my skin lathered in all kinds of delicious potions. Arnica cream was put all over my womb and lower back to help the pain and aches post birth. I smothered my hips and shoulders in Magnesium oil (miracle stuff). I used hemp oil on my feet everyday. I used essential oils on my womb, back of my neck, sacral area and soles of my feet as an anointing ritual after my baths (make sure the smell is super mild for baby). I used a thai herbal rub on my lower back which was super painful after birth and pregnancy. Coconut oil on my nipples for those first couple of days until they toughen up. I made ‘birthing’ sprays which had bush flower essences, crystals, essential oils inside them and sprayed around my aura and my baby to help create safety, security and cleansing in the energetic field.
I highly recommend this! It is an absolute game changer. I did this after both my births and honestly it made the world of difference to my energy, my mood, my milk flow, my sleep, pretty much everything. The placenta is a magical part of the birthing experience that tends to be ignored or discarded in the west after birth. Traditionally though different cultures eat it, bury it, have ceremonies with it and sometimes it is even shared amongst the whole tribe as a source of nutrients. Curious? Read the book Placenta the forgotten chakra by Ibu Robin Lim (who founded Bumi Sehat the birthing centre in Ubud where I live) and look into the) work of Natalie from Placenta Vitality (who lovingly encapsulated my second birth) and Kirrah from Traditional Wisdom (who did my first birth). These ladies are a wealth of knowledge, support and love on all things placenta!
Secure the bubble
I birthed Evie in Australia a birthing centre inside a hospital with a private midwife (earth angel) and was home 4 hours after she was born. My midwife did all my appointments and check ups at home which was incredible as I did not feel like going anywhere. We kept visitors to an all time low (only family and some close friends) as I did not want to have to entertain and make conversation with heaps of people if I didn’t feel up to it. Plus energetically it helped our little family really bond together in those first weeks, its such a sacred time you never get back. We lied in bed a lot, sang songs, took silly selfies, read books and ate all the food we’d been cooking for weeks. It was like a big slumber party and we loved it. Then when our closest ones would come visit they would bring us food, help with the housework and mostly play with my 2 year old daughter (who loved all the attention now she is a ‘big sister’). My advice – Tell people you are keeping the bubble closed and you’ll let them know when you’re ready for visitors. Tell those closest to you that you need help with whatever it is and let everyone know your desires for this time. Everyone really respected this bubble we created and helped us nestle in as a family as much as possible, we felt so supported and loved.
Broth it up!
I am a big believer of the healing powers of a good bowl of broth! I have served broth to over 1000 people at my fasting retreat in Bali and I see the benefits of food as medicine with each bowl I dish up. I cooked bone broth for weeks leading up to the birth and had my freezer jam packed with endless jars. I had a mug of broth everyday for 1 month afterwards and this helped all my aches and pains, got my digestion firing again, helped with my milk flow and energy. It is an exceptionally healing brew for the body and the heart and I highly encourage you to have some during this time. The best recipes are in ‘my bible’ (see above)
Celebrate yourself as a Mother
This was my second birth and was very different from becoming a Mother the first time. My Mum said to me “as the family grows so does your heart” so I spent time deeply feeling the expansion on a emotional and energetic level that I had just gone through. I also highly recommend some ceremony or ritual that celebrates and acknowledges you as a Mother. You an read about my blessing way here
I was as present as I could be during this time to everything that was going on in my internal and external environments. I wanted to feel EVERYTHING; the pain, the heart expansion, the unconditional love, the overwhelm, all of it! The main thing I learnt from my first postpartum experience is that it goes so fast, too fast! These tiny little newborns so fresh, so pure, so new, so entirely dependant on you for survival. It is precious moment in life that you never get back and after holding them inside your womb for during gestation it is just miraculous that you get to hold them in your arms, on the other side of the veil that is birth. I soaked in every delicious moment and really was present and mindful (as I could be at the time) to each day. The book I love on this topic Buddhism for Mothers approaches this so beautifully and is definitely recommended on my reading list!