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What Ancient Cultures Knew About Postpartum Care that We've Foolishly Forgotten, but Can Remember

fourth trimester postpartum Apr 03, 2023

Have you ever heard of the concept of 40 days for 40 years?

This was first introduced to me through Kimberly Ann Johnson’s book, The Fourth Trimester. It speaks to the connection between the care a new mother receives within the first 40 days postpartum and her pelvic and overall health for the subsequent 40 years!

There are many cultures around the world who honor this sacred postpartum window with many nourishing practices including, nutrient-dense, warm foods, lots of rest, warmth for the household and for the new mother, vaginal steaming, abdominal wrapping, bodywork, a full retreat from worldly and household responsibilities, leaning on a community for practical help as well as advice, and encouragement that often wards off the deep loneliness and propensity for depression we have in our culture. 

The United States has consistently ranked below many countries in our maternal and infant mortality rates. For a country that boasts being the best at most things, we lose more mothers and infants than many other developed countries every year. 

I would argue that birth should be something that we celebrate rather than just survive. What happens after a baby is born, how we care for the mother-baby unit, has long lasting effects on that child, that family, and ultimately that entire generation of children. 

I’d love to see postpartum planning become a much more common and integrated practice in the United States. Towards that goal, I’d love to share some resources and guidance to help you proactively plan for the postpartum time that will best support your healing, bonding, and flourishing as a new family.

5 Universal Needs- from The Fourth Trimester

Rest & warmth
Nourishing foods
Loving touch
Presence of a Wise Woman/ Companionship
Contact with nature

Top Books

The First 40 Days by Heng Ou
The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
Build Your Nest by Kestrel Gates
The Postpartum Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach

Guest/ Family Etiquette

-You are not hosting!
-They are coming to contribute and help, not just hold the baby
-Plant these seeds ahead of time
-Make a list of what you may need
-Put up a door sign, you can’t print our template out here & personalize it

Postpartum doulas: Cook, Steam, Wrap, Massage, Answer Questions, Provide Wise Woman Companionship

(Reach out to us for a full referral list)

Skilled Loving Touch- massage, steaming, wrapping

-Sparrow’s Nest for postpartum bodywork
-Acupuncture (reach out to us for a referral list)

This blog topic is coinciding with my own postpartum time. I look forward to sharing more about how I’m using these principles to support my recovery, and bolster our bonding as a new family.

If there was something that really helped you, or something that you wish you’d known or done to better support you early postpartum, what was it?

We all benefit when this information is normalized and shared!

With love & gratitude, 

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