TRADITIONS AROUND POSTPARTUM
In India, new mothers are nourished with simple, easy-to-digest foods and special concoctions after giving birth. For instance, panjiri and gondh ka laddoo are strength-giving foods that provide instant energy, help you heal and produce breast milk.
Various traditional herbal tonics are given to boost immunity, and encourage lactation. Many families in India believe in using desi ghee to cook meals for new mothers as it is considered to improve the quality of breast milk.
It is also believed that the process of childbirth makes your body cold; hence; new moms are served dishes which have a warm influence on the body. Alongside, ginger and garlic are used to prepare dishes because of their ability to strengthen the digestive system.
It is a tradition in several countries, including India, for new mothers to be confined at home for a period of six weeks or 40 days. This is to prevent the baby and mother from being exposed to infectious diseases from the outside environment.
During this time, they would move-in with their mother, or have them (other female relatives) stay over with them. This way the mother gets all the care and rest, amidst elderly & experienced supervision.
Massages and bathing
Another common postpartum practice in Indian culture are the oil massages that are given by family members or an elderly and experienced ‘maushi’ or ‘dai’. Using oils such as sesame, coconut, and olive (jaitoon), aid in recovery and help strengthen your sore ligaments, joints and muscles, and are great for tissue repair and stretch marks.
For the mother, the massage is followed by a bath – traditionally, done with herbal infusions, powders, and addition of natural antiseptics like neem leaves.
This is a common ritual across India, where your postpartum tummy is wrapped and tied with a soft cloth like a cotton sari, soon after bath!
It is practiced to ‘push and shrink’ the uterus (and stomach muscles), and enhance good posture while breast feeding. It further, helps in avoiding back pain; alongside, lightens your stretch marks. And gives the much-needed support to your hip which would have expanded to allow room in the pelvic area during pregnancy.
Hot and cold temperature
Indian traditions like Ayurveda underline that bodies have a hot & cold nature which has to be balanced to stay healthy. It is believed that a new mother’s body becomes cold after childbirth – possibly, stemming from the blood loss.
Hence, various things are recommended in order to heat up the body. For instance, a sponge bath with warm water is considered better than a shower. It is also advised that new moms should keep their body covered, especially their heads. And that they should not drink cold water, post-delivery.