In her book, “The First Forty Days”, Heng Ou refers to it as the time to nourish the mother. It is the time when the mother is healing and a time when nourishment for her is highly important.
There are so many practices we can have as women (and men too), and in my experience of taking care of myself, I’m not always practicing things that nourish myself. Sometimes things are done out of necessity, out of habit, out of lack for other options, out of boredom, out of convenience, or out of what is socially promoted.
In this 40 days (and really 6 full weeks), I’ve been curious and interested in practices that nourish me, and as I am taking care of myself and my little boys, making sure that I am choosing things that fall into line with the intention to nourish myself. Here are some practices that might be beneficial to you during the period of your first 40 days, or any time in your life where you see that it would be useful and beneficial to nourish yourself. (some of these came from my sister who just had her second as well)
- Taking 2 weeks (at least!) to lie in bed. I can’t tell you what a difference this made for me in my recovery. To be taken care of by people in my life so that I could rest and recover from birth (literally the most intense #legday of my life), allowed me to jump start my healing process so that I could actually recover.
- Taking herbal baths to help with your postpartum healing. This is one of my favorite things I do after having a baby. Warm baths with brewed herbs that work together to heal your body. I use this recipe and add in witch hazel. These baths are also great for you new baby to join you in, as they speed the cord healing and recovery as well. Taking the bath’s with Finn and Linc allowed for extra sweet bonding time.
- Massage and/or Chiropractic Care. I have done both of these during this time, and both have made a difference for me in my body recovering and healing from pregnancy and birth. I was visiting the chiro quite a bit during pregnancy in addition to getting massages. After I had Finn, my legs were so sore from laboring mostly on my feet, and then having him standing up. (The pressure that it caused on my legs to birth him while standing is what I would equate to holding 150-200 lbs) Getting a massage helped loosen those muscles up and allowed me to be more comfortable. If possible find a therapist who will come to your house, and if possible give you the massage while you are in your own bed. This was important as Finn was just a few days old and wanted to nurse 10 minutes into my massage. The chiro is great to start getting everything realigned again. Once your body is in a state of anatomical neutral, I believe that it will heal itself much more powerfully.
- Drink lots of water. I was much thirstier post delivery than I was in my entire pregnancy. My body needed the water to produce milk, and to flush my system after all of that hard work. There were a few nights where the sheets felt damp because I was sweating so much (thanks hormones!). I almost always have 2 things of water next to my bed and have to have water nearby especially when I get ready to nurse Finn.
- Eating things that nourish different parts of you. You are still growing a human being even after you push them out of your body. Even if you don’t nurse, you are still energetically taking care of a small human being who literally cannot do anything without you. This requires you to eat. With your teeth. Your body needs fuel to continue doing what it needs to do to heal and repair itself. So eat things that will do that for you. This isn’t a good time to try and lose any weight you put on during your pregnancy. If you think about the difference between something like a green juice and a balanced meal (that includes protein), the meal will most likely be the thing that nourishes you most of the time. If you really want a green juice-have it, and make sure it’s paired with food that you need your teeth to help you digest. One thing that I have craved (and did right away after birth) was chocolate. So I’ve been eating good quality chocolate to satisfy my craving and nourish whatever part of me needs that. Also donuts. Because they’re delicious.
- Bone Broth. Make it, buy it, ask your mom to make you soup. Bone broth contains things like collagen that help you repair your systems from the inside, out. These are warm and nourishing, and I’ve found that even though we are in the middle of the hottest month in Texas, that the soups are really comforting and delicious. Before Finn was born, I made several recipes from The First Forty Days book, that are absolutely delicious, and froze them. Those have been great to have as my husband has gone back to work.
- Bibliotherapy. Read some books! I thought I would spend more time watching Netflix, and for some reason I wasn’t interested in anything on there (except the Great British Baking Show), and a lot of things felt too intense to be in my recovery space. So I read instead. I think I’ve read close to 10 books. Going to the library was also a great activity for Brandon and Lincoln to do when they needed to get out of the house.
- Napping! Take a nap! I was surprised how much more tired I felt this time around. Maybe because I’m older than last time, maybe because I have a toddler, maybe because it’s so hot here…I’ve needed more rest. In the first several weeks I took a nap (even if it was only 45 min) everyday. This allowed me to have a pretty even disposition consistently.
- Meditation. My sister has a verse from Psalms that she has been meditating on, and I’ve been using a declaration (similar and not the same as an affirmation). This has given me something positive to bring my attention to, when I need it, and like a chiropractic adjustment, brings my mind back to neutral/my highest and best. I really like the verse she was using, and I will probably incorporate that into my practice as well.
- People. This could be one of the most important of them all. Have people support you and visit you that nourish YOU! This isn’t a time for you to entertain or have people over because you feel obligated. Obligation is the opposite of nourishing and will drain your energy. Ask for support and visits from people who will support you in your time of rest, and people that will step up if needed. This may also require you to ask certain family members to wait to visit until you’ve given yourself the space to rest and heal. Remember that you are recovering, not on display for people to see.
Which of these practices sound most nourishing to you? Are there any that you would add to this list or take away?