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

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Old 10-30-2009, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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Old 10-30-2009, 04:58 PM
 
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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!

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Old 10-30-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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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

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Old 10-30-2009, 10:39 PM
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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

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Old 10-31-2009, 01:30 AM
 
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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.

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Old 10-31-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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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!

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Old 11-01-2009, 12:11 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-01-2009, 01:31 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-01-2009, 01:38 AM
 
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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!

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Old 11-01-2009, 04:59 AM
 
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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.


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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.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:48 PM
 
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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.)

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Old 11-02-2009, 12:35 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-02-2009, 01:29 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-02-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:12 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-03-2009, 01:23 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-06-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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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.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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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.

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Old 11-21-2009, 01:22 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-21-2009, 07:43 AM
 
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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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Old 11-21-2009, 07:45 AM
 
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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.
This is exactly what I am talking about. There is a huge difference between enjoying bonding time with your newborn, and snuggling up at home because you WANT TO, and doing it because of societal pressure.

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Old 11-22-2009, 07:33 AM
 
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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 !?!?!?!
I feel the same way about the Chinese custom to be honest. While I did rather enjoy the "confinement" period the first time around, I resent that it is expected by society here and if I don't do it then I'm a bad mom and don't care about my child or my own health. It is one thing to do a babymoon because you want to, another to do it because you "have" to. Being a new parent is tough and if a mom feels like she needs to get out of the house and get a breath of fresh air she shouldn't be given a guilt trip over it.

For this second baby I'm probably going to skip the confinement thing, or at least scale it back a lot. It was ok for my first, but this time it'll be right around Christmas, my folks are coming to visit, and I just don't feel like staying indoors or in bed for a month or more. My husband, luckily, has chilled out a lot since we had our first and he's no longer convinced that I might die an early death if I want to go out for a coffee shortly after giving birth.

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Old 11-22-2009, 07:58 AM
 
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I'm glad that your husband has lightened up! In such cultural conditions, it must be great your folks are coming around the time of the birth as well.

Do they have terribly long hospital stays there as well? Here, its is around a week, at least. So when you are out with your day old baby people say... "Aren't you supposed to be in hospital still? I can't believe they let you go so soon!" Fortunately, one of the many benefits of homebirth is being able to go out as soon as you want to.

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Old 11-25-2009, 10:26 AM
 
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interesting! i did my ma dissertation on postpartum depression & particularly its variation according to cultural practices, like "sitting the month" or cuarantera or whatever its local name is. evidence does suggest that ppd is lower in cultures that socially mark the transition to motherhood in some way
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Old 11-25-2009, 12:01 PM
 
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I'm glad that your husband has lightened up! In such cultural conditions, it must be great your folks are coming around the time of the birth as well.

Do they have terribly long hospital stays there as well? Here, its is around a week, at least. So when you are out with your day old baby people say... "Aren't you supposed to be in hospital still? I can't believe they let you go so soon!" Fortunately, one of the many benefits of homebirth is being able to go out as soon as you want to.
I'd say the hospital stays here are medium length, probably about 3-4 days on average for a vaginal birth. With my son I think I left on the 3rd day. Part of the reason for that is that the really good hospitals don't really have enough rooms to meet their demands, so they sort of have to make sure people get out to make room for new people. Still a lot longer than back home where people often don't even stay for a full 24 hours though!

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Old 12-03-2009, 03:33 PM
 
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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 !?!?!?!
I agree with you about the PPD stuff. The thing that would be different, I think, is that in a traditional society, you would have a parade of women coming through to help you cook, clean, etc. You would actually probably havemore social interaction than if you live alone and go on a walk around the block or to the grocery once a day.

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Old 12-03-2009, 05:49 PM
 
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The thing that would be different, I think, is that in a traditional society, you would have a parade of women coming through to help you cook, clean, etc. You would actually probably havemore social interaction than if you live alone and go on a walk around the block or to the grocery once a day.
Exactly. My mom's Indian friend had all her female friends and relatives basically come over and take care of her house for her during her pp period. Totally different from sitting alone in a little house not having any adult contact for a month!

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Old 12-04-2009, 10:39 AM
 
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Here in Sweden we look at things in a more practical way. The first week or so it's important to let the mother get some rest, establish routines and make sure breastfeeding is working fine. We usually have few visitors so that mother and father can have some peace and quiet. Wife is Mexican but I had never heard any special tradition regarding this before.

We gave birth at a small private place where visitors aren't even allowed which I personally thought was great. Plenty of time to see everyone later:-)

It's more or less mandatory for the father to stay home during the first 14 days. This helps every family to have a good start and not rush into things.

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Old 12-04-2009, 04:34 PM
 
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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.
Your post is so familiar to me. I am American, but have been married to an Armenian (from Turkey... the family fled the genocide) for a long time and this has become part of our individual culture. There were some things I put my foot down about... not clipping the nails for 40 days just was NOT going to happen, however we did participate in some of the other traditional practices out of respect for his family. We dealt with the 40 days when his mother died as well because there are similar practices surrounding death. We are not in Turkey among his 100% Armenian family, so we have been able to avoid some of the cultural trappings (including how we were married). However, we always respect his culture as much as we are able to living abroad.

We are not "gen x". Dh is in his mid 50's and moved to the US over 30 years ago. Perhaps it's a generational thing, but we are very committed to raising dd as close as we possibly can to know the traditions of Armenia, or at least to how dh was raised as an Armenian minority in Turkey. Good luck!


ETA: We deal with a very similar combination of religious cultures because Turkey is Muslim and his family has been in Istanbul since the genocide. They are all Eastern Orthodox, but also participate in the sacrifice Bayram (that just occurred). They have an interesting mix of very Armenian culture influenced by the Muslims of Turkey. You have to find your balance in everything.
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:59 AM
 
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My co-worker did this I think it was 4-6 weeks. I thought it was the.weirdest.thing.ever, but I see it is more common world-wide. She is AA. My IL's are too, but they didn't mention anything about this nor did we follow it. We went out to eat at about a week, then I took him to mall, work at a few weeks, then out of the country at 6 weeks for vacation. I wanted to get out and socialize, I couldn't imagine staying home 6 weeks, I could do 1-3 weeks though and do see the benefit.

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