Postpartum: a time to rest

Tending to baby, for now, is more than enough.
— Heng Ou

We usually get a lot of information about pregnancy and birth. There are so many prenatal classes, courses and sessions you can attend to prepare for the birth of your baby. But who tells you about the postnatal period? How do you prepare yourself for life with a baby? How do you manage with little or no help during the first weeks postpartum? Who cares for the mother during that time of transition to allow her to rest and heal after giving birth? 

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother, written by Heng Ou in collaboration with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger, is a wonderful guide to help every mum prepare for the early days of motherhood. Filled with ancestral traditions from all over the world that share light on how to look after both mother and baby, and with nourishing recipes to replenish the new mother's energy and promote milk production, Ou's book is a calling not only to mums-to-be, but also to their partners and circle of family and close friends. Adapted to our modern lifestyle, Ou gives practical tips to help parents prepare for the first forty days. From stocking up the pantry and cooking nutrient-rich meals that can be stored in the freezer for those early weeks, to creating a support team that you can count on when you're feeling lonely and depleted. Ou looks deep into old traditions, not only from China, her home-country, but from all around the world to share the one thing they all have in common: the need to pamper the mother so that she can recover and bond with her baby during the postpartum period. 

The heart of The First Forty Days is to nourish the mother physically, emotionally and spiritually through home-cooked food, gentle massage, loving touch and rituals that honour the woman's transition into motherhood. The book is also filled with healing tea recipes and home-made body lotions, tips to address the changes in your relationship with your partner, herbs and essential oils to support pregnancy and birth, some notes on placenta consumption, a simple but nutritious guide on what to eat and much more.

As Ou suggests, you don't have to confine yourself for 40 days or follow a strict programme if that's not what feels right for you, but instead you can choose what resonates with you and your lifestyle and bring as much or as little of what she offers into your postpartum period. So read, enjoy and create your own pampering pack during the last weeks of pregnancy so that you can share it with your "community". Remember, "it takes a village to raise a child" and you deserve to be loved and cared for during those special but vulnerable weeks with your newborn baby.