In December we had the honor of attending an event at Roots Birth Center where we got to listen to Heng Ou talk about her new book, The First Forty Days- The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. We went into the night with the hopes of learning and understanding more about healing in the postpartum time. Not only did we leave with a better understanding of the practice of lying in, we also left with full hearts ready to bring these practices to the families we serve.
In her book, Heng talks about The Five Insights to Reclaiming Wisdom.
Over the next five weeks we will dig in deeper into each of these insights. How they can greatly impact your Postpartum time, or the “4th trimester”, as well as recipes, handouts and practical guides on how to achieve these.
In western culture we have this idea that after we have a baby we should jump back to being Superwoman. We should be back to work in no time. Running errands, getting to the gym, “getting your body back” (what does that even mean? It never went anywhere.) And managing to sleep, feed yourself, a newborn, possibly an older child, nurture your relationship with your partner, all while trying to stay sane. While I do believe Beyonce is right when she’s talking about how strong women are when saying “Strong enough to bear children…then get back to business.” I think one key part is left out of that, the 4th trimester, the time where we allow others around us to nurture us, a time to just bond with our baby… to just be.
After the birth of my first, I tried to embody this “modern superwoman”, I thought it was what we were supposed to do. After leaving the hospital we stopped at Target, and within a week we were on family vacations. We were back to “normal life” right away, or so I thought. After not healing properly, and feeling achy for long after the magical 6 week marker it finally occurred to me that maybe my body was telling me something. And that if I quieted my body and mind, it might be able to tell me what I needed.
Fast forward to our second pregnancy when our midwife brought up Postpartum Planning. We talked about our postpartum time the first time around, and what we wanted to change. She told us about the “one week in your bed, one week around your bed” rule, to which I thought there was no possible way we could do. I had a 1.5 year old running around! She explained how as a society we plan so much for our upcoming birth by taking Childbirth Education Classes, talking about labor and reading books. But then hardly any time or emphasis is put on that 4th trimester. So, with the birth of our 2nd we practiced the “art of lying in” as Heng Ou calls it. And let me tell you, what a difference that made! We felt much more attended to as a family, I felt more confident as a parent, breastfeeding was much easier, and the healing time was 3 times faster. And because of the planning we had done (thank you to our supportive families for that!) our daughter was still attended to, and it turned out to be a beautiful bonding experience for us as a new family of 4.
Now, as a birth professional I take the “one week in your bed, one week around your bed” theme pretty seriously. We have seen and experienced first hand the beauty of resting and nurturing your body in that time and the lasting benefits for families. We are excited to share the ways we have adapted these insights, and can’t wait to hear how the art of lying in has influenced your 4th trimester!