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40 days ( or some set time) of 'not going out' with newborn.Do you or anyone you know practice...

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
I am curious after seeing this mentioned in the soup thread.

Do any of you , or anyone in your family or communities, practice a "rooming in" or period of confinement with the newborn? Were you ever told why? What was your rationale? What's the ethnic/geographic/religious/generational background, if you'd be willing to share.

I learned this from an Aunt, who told me in no uncertain terms as a girl that this is what we hayer ( Armenians) do. I am expecting my first 11/13 , and will do this also-forty days because it seems sensical to me.I am only "ethnically" Armenian Apostolic christian, *not* personally, so I am *not* motivated by christianity. I'm gen x teetering on gen y, and I learned it from the first post-genocide generation ( children of survivors), who raised me in diaspora. I was taught this in passing as "background chatter" and also during a lecture while I attacked my Aunt's kourabiyah cookies.

I noticed that some have cited religion-as in "churching"-however, I have known of Egyptian Arab women to have practiced this , both Muslim and Coptic or Christian. Moreover, I am aware through the study of folk magic practices that many West Asian (re: Middle Eastern) practices that predate monotheism give protection prayers/amulets/practices for up to 40 days.
post #2 of 44
I've read about this (as I'm studying midwifery) a little.
My understanding is that it can be a way to nurture the mother. Family and friends do the shopping, come by to cook and clean, offer general support.
If, like many of us, you happen to live far from friends and family, this could end up feeling very isolating.
Check out Rediscovering Birth By Sheila Kitzinger.
Congratulations and good luck!
post #3 of 44
In Finland it was traditional for the mother to give birth in the sauna (which would have been in a small shed separate from the main house) and then stay there with her baby for something like 40 days. I think the rationale was a mix of Christian churching customs and folk beliefs about spirits/evil eye/etc. Also I bet there was some women's wisdom disguised in there - oh darn, new mother will just have to lay down and rest for a month with baby because of that pesky evil eye
However, I think that this was not always done as most Finns lived on small farms and every hand would have been needed. And of course nobody does it anymore, at all - it's just like the U.S. with women going back to the gym in a matter of weeks after birth.
My mom studies Traditional Chinese Medicine and she says it takes a month or two to recover from birth (I think the pp period is considered to be 2 years total!). Apparently in TCM when a woman gives birth her whole system is sort of "opened" so if you don't rest and eat right you can compound underlying health problems you might have had or get new ones (and if you do rest and eat well you can actually heal old problems). So she seems quite determined to come and keep me off my feet for a good month when I give birth. And I think that sounds very good
post #4 of 44
I gave birth in Armenia and I can tell you this is still a current practice among *some* people there. I myself am not ethnically Armenian and did not follow the practice. We were out and about within days of the birth. A few people were a little taken aback by that (my landlady was downright shocked), but most didn't think it was really a big deal. More people were shocked by my ring sling that the fact that I was at the market with a newborn
post #5 of 44
My DH is Mexican and his small community has traditionally respected the 40 days as a period that the mother and baby should rest together. In this period, the mother is not supposed to work and not even supposed to bathe. Usually, the mother-in-law is responsible for caring for the new mom in this period. Of course, when you live in a city far from family, this can be a hard custom to maintain. With DS1, I only stayed "in" for about two weeks. With DS2, we hardly made it 3 or 4 days.

It's my understanding that traditional Indian culture also respects the first 40 days (/6 weeks) as a time that a new mom should not leave the house, not enter the kitchen, etc. These traditions seem brilliant to me, but very difficult to do in an urban environment and w/o strong family support around you.
post #6 of 44
My ILs culture (they're from Kazakhstan) practices this. (I started a thread about it when I was pregnant; here it is.) The mom and baby are supposed to stay in the house for 40 days to protect the baby from the evil eye. No one is allowed to touch the baby except the immediate family. You're not even supposed to show anyone pictures of the baby until after 40 days pass.

The ILs really pressured me to do this too, but I put my foot down. 40 days of resting sounds nice, but only when the new mother is surrounded by family to support her, feed her, and take care of the house. We don't have any family here, so it just wasn't feasible (and I would have gone stir crazy).

We did do the traditional 40 day party though. They have a party after the 40 days to formally welcome the baby to the world, and show her off to the family. (Pictures on my blog!)

OP, you'll have to tell us how your 40 days go!
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoGirl View Post
The ILs really pressured me to do this too, but I put my foot down. 40 days of resting sounds nice, but only when the new mother is surrounded by family to support her, feed her, and take care of the house. We don't have any family here, so it just wasn't feasible (and I would have gone stir crazy).
I too got it from the IL's, and there was no way I was staying in the house for a month. I'm sure a month of not going out at all and relaxing can sound wonderful, but in reality it can be torture. I had already spent ages laying in bed while on bedrest when I was pregnant (of course for that MIL complained that I ought to be up getting exercise.) Taking DS for walks was one of the highlights of my day. Besides, I just had stuff I needed to do.
post #8 of 44
The month inside the house (preferably in bed) is done here in China. I did a month in the house with my son because it was pretty important to my husband, who is Chinese. My in-laws had already passed away at that point so I didn't have them pressuring me about it or restricting me to lying in bed all month, and my husband and I were pretty relaxed about it. A traditional Chinese MIL would have said no TV, no computer, lie in bed, do nothing! For us it was kind of nice, it was just us and the baby, and I wasn't really feeling up to going out for the first two weeks anyhow. I was definitely getting a bit stir crazy by the end of the month, and I definitely went out the first day that I was "allowed."

New moms are also not supposed to touch cold water, wash their hair, be exposed to the wind (so no open windows), and are supposed to eat special foods -- lots of soups involving eggs, peanuts, chicken, or pig's feet. The main thing is the eggs boiled in a brown sugar broth. You're supposed to eat that immediately after the birth and every day afterwards.

All of this is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine and theories about balancing out the Yin and the Yang, which is thrown out of whack when you give birth. Like ursusarctos said, the belief is that if you don't do these things you could have very serious health problems later on in life.
post #9 of 44
I'm planning to do this (as of now) because of ppd and *several* other health probs after all of my kids births.. not sure if I'll just stay in bed but I'm leaning to the TCM way of doing things, eating warming foods etc.. I just have to find someone to take care of me and the kids first!
post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayrigah View Post
I am curious after seeing this mentioned in the soup thread.

Do any of you , or anyone in your family or communities, practice a "rooming in" or period of confinement with the newborn? Were you ever told why? What was your rationale? What's the ethnic/geographic/religious/generational background, if you'd be willing to share.

In HK, some women take it very seriously, the usual period of confinement is 1 month (often lunar). Yes, I was told why - health for the mama now and later (no rheumatism and headaches, etc.). The fact that it might be good for the BB (less expsoure to germs) was mentioned in passing - but didn't seem to be emphasized.

I was so interested in this and other practices that I ended up writing an MPhil thesis on this and other childbearing topics in Hong Kong.

I *personally* only practiced it a little, by the end of the 1st week I wanted to go out and about & take BB with me. However, I did do a lot of resting too & enjoyed the food.


Quote:
Originally Posted by neveryoumindthere View Post
I'm planning to do this (as of now) because of ppd and *several* other health probs after all of my kids births.. not sure if I'll just stay in bed but I'm leaning to the TCM way of doing things, eating warming foods etc.. I just have to find someone to take care of me and the kids first!
Exactly!

The problem w/ trying to take this sort of thing out of its cultural context is the lack of support. I had my husband, my m-i-l and a domestic helper to relieve me of most of the household burdens during this time. In Taiwan there are lots of commercial zuo yuezi centers where women can go (like in these articles describe)
http://www.taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=49116&CtNode=429

http://taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/ct.as...23&CtNode=1362

But, try and do it elsewhere & it will be very troublesome.

Another example of problems of taking things outside of the usual place. It seems like a lot of women in Singapore use a "Confinement Lady" which is very similar too, but not exactly the same as a Cantonese "Pui Yuet". It seems as though a lot of the confinement ladies in S'Pore do post-natal massage (Malay style?) which is not common in HK. So, S'pore women feel that lack.
post #11 of 44
i WANT to do this next time. But here it would be difficult. DH says "at home" the other women come to visit you and do for you, bring you food, all that kind of stuff. Sometimes he says even the dad has to stay with a friend or relative because there are so many women at his house!

I DON'T want to take it that far, I would NOT be 'cool' with dh not being around his own newborn. And I don't think HE would either, now that he has lived here and done things the "Western" way for 3 kids. (there dads are NOT in the birthing rooms and he was downright SHOCKED when they handed him scissors for cutting the cord of our first born. but he DID do it and he stayed right by my side for all three births, including our 3rd, a not-quite-homebirthed baby.)
post #12 of 44
We had friends from China back in the states and they stayed in bed for a month after the baby was born. I have heard of it in other cultures as well. Its a really nice way of the community/family taking care of the mother and allowing her to bond, rest and basically get motherhood off to a good start.

I don't personally do this because I would go stir crazy but we restrict vistors for the first week or two (as in no overnight family, visits for only short periods) so we have a kind of baby moon. I take it easy and dh takes good care of me. But none of this is cultural for us just personal choices.
post #13 of 44
This is also practised in North African communities as well, the midwife would design intricate henna on the mother's hands and feet so that she had to stay in bed and not do anything - only bond and breastfeed her baby. It all makes sense to me when living in a community where the cooking, cleaning and other children are all looked after by the other women in the community however, when faced with all this by yourself it's just not going to happen, if the help is available to you then certainly go for it.
post #14 of 44
You know I bet these practices were even more meaningful back in the day when catching a chill or somebody's cold could literally be deadly for a new mother or baby (and everyday life involved a lot more hard labor too). It would be worth the loss of the mother's work for that time because it probably greatly increased her and the baby's chances of good health and survival. Which would probably explain why the post-partum "40 days" seems to have been so universal worldwide.
post #15 of 44
This makes a lot of sense to me as a way to get breastfeeding going also.

I think part of the reason a lot of moms in the US run into trouble with bf is bc they are under pressure to do other stuff (care for older children, clean the house) and bf'ing starts to take a back seat.

Generally Western culture just seems to give awful, awful short shrift to the needs of a new baby. I know my MIL (DH is from India) was shocked and horrified that I had to go back to work after 2 months.
post #16 of 44
Traditional Chinese Medicine encourages rest for the mother immediately after giving birth so she can recuperate. The combination of vinegar with pig's trotters is to draw out calcium from the bones to nourish the mother.

Korean post-partum soups have seaweed, know for their high iron content.

Sorry, I'm rambling a bit. Back to our main topic. With the birth of my 3rd child, I insisted on getting help to do the month so I could rest and fully recover. DH took two weeks off and did EVERYTHING so all I had to do was take care of myself and nurse the baby. Then my brother came for a week to help out, and the week after that, FIL took DD so there weren't any kids in the house for me to look after except baby.

I wasn't aware of this practice when I had my first. My mom brought the vinegar and pig's feet stew, but made no offers to stay and help so I could rest (we always had a bit of a strained relationship, and she probably would have been more stressful than helpful)

With my 2nd, DH took the summer off, so it was kind of like doing the month. Except he would only take care of DS1, so I still had to change diapers and resettle the baby after feedings.

I second the pp's suggestion to read Sheila Kitzinger's Rediscovering Birth.
post #17 of 44
My DH was mainly raised in a small Mexican village. The women there would stay inside for 40 days. I don't think they had to stay in bed the whole time, but only family and close women friends were to come in and they weren't supposed to do any work. I never heard anything about it having to do with religion. In a small village like that, where the closest doctor was a boat ride and then car/bus ride away and where women did a lot of physical work, it was about ensuring the health of the mom and baby. This is in a place where, when asked how many children they have, the women respond by saying they have so-many living and so-many dead (most often they would have died in infancy). The women of the village would help by bringing meals, doing their washing, sweeping the floors, etc. The new mom was to rest and be with her baby. There are beliefs that sweeping can cause a women to start bleeding more, bending over to wash laundry in the river could cause something else, etc. Keeping the baby inside and away from others helps protect it from germs and getting sick.

My mother in law (who is American) had one of her children while living in this village, and when she didn't do the 40 days staying in period, the other women in the village were REALLY worried about her - told her she was risking death, etc.
post #18 of 44
A lot of Moms here (on MDC) do a Babymoon.... basically taking a certain amount of time to just be with and bond with their baby. Often times, they will stay exclusively with their baby in the same bed/room... and others will provide food, etc.

DH is Egyptian (Muslim) and I know when my Sister-in-Law gave birth she did a sort of similar thing... although they did have a bunch of people over to the house around the 7th day after the baby was born for this cultural celebration thing. (It's called a sebou (?sp)... and is done among Copts (Christians) and Muslims... and was probably done among the Jewish Egyptians as well.)

Honestly, I think it's a great idea. I wish I could have done it with my three.
post #19 of 44
I am pregnant with my second now in Canada...( I am Canadian, DH Israeli) but our 1st son was born in Japan where traditionally many women believe it is best not to go outside with the baby for 3 months after birth. These days its 1 month. And they stick to it! Most women will go back to their mothers home when they are due and have the baby near there so the mom can help out, most men have a very short paternity leave. It was interesting because I started taking my son out for small strolls around the park and the shrine near my house when my son was about 2 weeks old and I would have old ladies stop me to ask how old he was and then scold me, and tell me we shouldn't be outside. Eventually I just started telling everyone that he was 1 month old. The resons there are to protect the baby from germs and to let the mom rest.
post #20 of 44
Here in Serbia they have the same custom (I am an expat). It is linked to the Church as far as I can see. PP moms and new babies are not supposed to enter the Church for 40 after birth, then on that day a ceremony is done to welcome the baby to the Church. They get assigned a Saint's name until they get baptized, usually somewhere in the first year.

I love the idea of a babymoon, and I did enjoy lots of private indoor time with my son, who was born in December and it was really cold out. BUT... Am I the only one who sees this practice as less than positive? I could never stay indoors for that length of time, and I don't think that's beneficial at all. If anything, it's depression-inducing for me. I hate the way in which people are shocked when you do take a newborn out (they think a newborn should not go out of the house at all, yet they exclusively birth in hospitals!). Personally, I have lots of energy PP and I LIKE to go out and about, as well as needing to, for shopping etc. The practice feels extremely restrictive to me.

One woman even said it was wrong to take my new baby outside because her young son asked "why is the baby so red and shrivelled" and she didn't want to explain that it was because he had just emerged from my vagina !?!?!?!
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