40 days blessing

In many cultures around the world, there is a tradition of recognizing the first approx 6 weeks after birth as a time of sanctity and importance. The mother is given support to grow into her new role as nurturer of another being, now on the outside, as well as recover from the great physical feat she has just performed (birth and pregnancy). The baby is given a soft, safe space to find its own metaphorical feet, with all its physical systems now having to function independently, its nervous system forming and firming, not to mention the astounding fact of simply being alive on this big planet, connected with others, needing to feel safe and loved and held.

 

In Kundalini Yoga humanology it is said that in the first 3 days of a baby´s life, he or she learns love and in the first 40 days, a sense of belonging. To this mother, this father, this family and this Earth.

 

I was very struck, years ago, reading The Forest People by Colin Turnbull, describing how these tribes structures their village life. First comes the womb of the mother, then the expanded circle of the family tent for the first approximately 40 days, and then the further expanded circle of the whole tribe, whose tents are positioned to form a very big circle. And beyond that, out into the the wider circle of the world, always to return… So the person, as they grow, moves into ever-expanding circles, but always held and in a sense of belonging. These are a simple but profoundly happy, secure people.

 

Our world is clearly not like this, but if we take this principle we might look into finding ways to come closer to creating a space which holds both us as emerging mothers and our babies until we are ready to move out into the world, feeling strong and secure.

 

Every woman must surely follow her own feeling and possibilities, but perhaps you would like to consider keeping things very quiet in the first weeks. Some women find it a relief to limit visitors, or at least have visitors who they feel bring in a nurturing presence. The father can be very helpful here, diplomatically arranging visits in the interests of holding a protected space for you and the baby. Sometimes this might cause some kind of social tension, but the question is then – what is more important right now? Keeping everyone else happy or making the best of this one-off opportunity to give your baby the best start in life that you can?

 

As a new mother, your one main task is to look after your baby. If possible, let yourself be cooked for – nurturing, strengthening, wholesome food. Have someone take over cleaning and washing or even let things go for a while, prioritizing well-being. And REST, REST, REST! Studies have shown that women who take these 6 weeks to rest and relax do much better in the long run whereas women who jump up too soon might feel fine at first but tend to hit a wall later. So rest, even more than you might feel is necessary. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Let yourself be looked after as much as you can. Even accept massages, particularly shoulder massage, as your shoulders can feel the strain from breastfeeding.

 

My invitation is to think of this time as you being like a queen. You certainly have performed an act of creation which required a lot from you on all levels (and will continue to). Let things come to you and let yourself be served. The time will come soon enough for you to step out and take up your new role in the world, walking tall, feeling good, with your secure, well-nurtured, happy baby.