From conception until the time our baby emerges into the world, her universe has been the drumbeat of our heart, the swishing of our aortal pulse, the balmy 98.6 degrees of our cozy womb, the internal vibrations of our voice, the outer sound of her papas voice, and the frequent swishing and swaying of our movements. Then we give birth and out into the cold, uncontrolled atmosphere they go! This is why gentle birth environments are so strongly championed for. Aside from the research that proves women, like all animals, progress best during labor when in quiet, cozy, dim and peaceful settings, our baby too needs the same as he transitions into the world. This is why they prefer immediate skin contact at the maternal heart, because the mother and the baby are one.
While i was pregnant i decided that after Veda was born i would stay in with for the first 40 days, as a way to offer a gentle transition from womb to world. This first 40 day period is sometimes referred to as “the primal adaptive period”. That term really resonated for me because it is a primal time, for us to adapt as a new mama and for baby to adapt to Earth. In addition to providing a soft landing for Vedas arrival, i wanted to use those precious and tender days to recover, acclimate, and bond with my new baby. I knew that those days would be filled with many emotions, that my body would be recovering and transitioning from pregnancy and birth to a new state, and that i would likely be trying to get a handle on breastfeeding.
In the Yogic tradition and most indigenous cultures, a woman would stay in her nurturing home for the first 40 days after birth. In her private world, the new mother focuses on being in love with her baby, on eating delicious food and drinking postpartum herb teas prepared by her female relatives or her doula, and going through all the changes of being a nursing mother caring for an amazing newborn.
I had read that nursing babies and mothers, when napping together, share the exact same REM pattern! Pretty amazing. There is something incredibly sacred to be honored and protected during those first 40 Days.
Those first weeks with Veda were raw and pure and blissful and tender, as was i, and the thought of sharing that time and space with anyone other then my husband just felt invasive to me. Of course i wanted my mom, dad, sister, and mother and sister in laws to come and experience this exciting expansion in our family, but i had a slightly different vision for how that time would go. I didn’t want to have a house full of people to entertain. I also wasn’t ready to be around a lot of varied energies nor did i want Veda to be just yet. Both of us were still very raw and open after the long journey of labor and birth. My husband and I both really wanted the freedom to gently sink into this new relationship with Veda all on our own, and to have that time as a family to really digest what had occurred… a baby! Erecting a private world around your new family is possible if you have a loving and solid support system. Those early days were a bit manic for me as my hormones sought to recover balance, and it was a hard time in general because my husband was busier with work then ever before and he had to be working and traveling when i needed my stable rock the most. But we got through it. My sister came and cared for me while he was working in Italy for 4 days. And our mothers took turns coming to New York to take care of us, and to meet Veda of course.
I have to say, had i not consciously set the intention to have those 40 days as an incubation period, i still would have tended toward it. Instinctively, i would have remained in my brand new baby bubble anyways. i really wasn’t ready for the world yet. Those early days with your baby are like being on another planet. It’s like the twilight zone. It’s such a magical time to preserve just for your little nucleus. But how do you communicate this to your family? How do you tell the people you love that you want them to come and see your new baby, but not all at once. How do you say that what you really want and need is their support with the basics of cooking and cleaning so that you can recover and bond with your new baby?
Sometimes its hard to ask for what you need, especially when what you need might conflict with the expectations of your family, but asking for what we need is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our loved ones, and our babies. Part of being an emotional adult is being able to communicate our needs clearly, even if they are selfish, so that you are not left feeling resentful or unfulfilled. There is a time and a place to be selfish. I think having a new baby empirically qualifies as such a time. And when it comes to such an invaluable time in your life, it’s worth the delicate or awkward conversation. The bottom line is that your family may have had an expectation of things being a certain way, but this is your life and your loved ones will adjust and understand. They want to support you, so just let them know what kind of support you are looking for and everyone will be overjoyed in the end. Nothing like a new baby to smooth things over and remind everyone what is really important!