These are some tips on how you can spend your first 40 days as a mum.

What are the first 40 days after delivery all about?

If you have just had a baby, you may have been told by your family members that the first 40 days after delivery are important. The practices during these days may vary depending on which part of the country you are from. But largely, the first 40 days are seen as a confinement period, meant for you to recuperate, gain strength and bond with your new baby. It's quite natural to feel that 40 days is too long. You may want to get out of the house before that. Or you may find all the dos and don't that this period comes with too restrictive. If your recovery is taking longer than you expected though, you will probably be happy for the excuse of these 40 days to get all the rest you need. However long you end up spending on your confinement, enjoy this precious time you get for yourself and your newborn baby before the mad rush of life sets in again. Your body will be going through a lot during these first few days of motherhood. Here is how you can make the most of the confinement time to help you recover well.

How can I recover quickly after birth?

Depending on your birth experience, you may feel well again fairly soon after the birth. But it can also seem like a long time before you are free from aches and pains, especially if you had a caesarean or assisted birth. It is best to allow your body to heal at it's own pace. You can help yourself heal by resting, eating well and looking out for the signs of an infection or other postnatal complication. Rest may not be easy to come by with a newborn. Your little one will probably want to be fed every two hours through the day and night, and will probably pass urine as often. But this is why confinement is such a popular postnatal practice in India. It allows you to rest in the day while your mum, mum-in-law or maid look after the household chores.

Experienced mothers know what you are going through and are usually happy to help out at this time. If you do not have family close by to help you, there are maids specially trained to help new mothers during their confinement. You can consider hiring one either part or full time.

How will I feel emotionally after birth?

Giving birth is an amazing achievement, and every mum responds in her own way. You may feel alert and happy - physically, mentally, and emotionally satisfied. Or you may feel bruised and battered, exhausted, disappointed and even depressed. You may find that you feel very protective and possessive of your baby or on the other hand, happy when someone offers to take care of him for a while. Many new mums also get the baby blues and a few suffer from more serious postnatal depression. This can cause severe mood swings, sadness and guilt. If you feel extremely depressed and have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, you should speak to your doctor. With the right treatment, you will feel better again.

Use the confinement period to help you get over this emotional upheaval and bond with your baby, so that you are able to enjoy motherhood fully.

Breastfeeding your baby

Doctors, medical experts and the Ministry of Health recommend breastfeeding your baby exclusively for six months. Though it is the best nourishment for your little one and the most natural one, breastfeeding doesn't always happen easily. You may have starting troubles. And it's quite normal to have problems like engorged breasts, breast refusalor sore nipples. In addition, the night-time feeds can take their toll on you. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with breastfeeding issues. If you have any questions, you will probably find answers in our breastfeeding section. You might find yourself very happy for the first few days of confinement to spend some quality time with your baby perfecting the art of breastfeeding.

What should I eat during my first 40 days?

Once your baby is here, you are sure to hear a lot about what you should and shouldn't eat. The traditions vary from region to region and almost from family to family. Though there might be many restrictions, eating healthily is vital for you to heal well and to produce good breastmilk for your baby. So make sure you get all the vital nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins in your diet. Eating right will not only help you recover and give you the strength to carry out your new duties as a mum, it can also help you lose weight sensibly. There are a lot of traditional foods that go along with the confinement period. See some of our traditional confinement recipes.

What practices are usually done in the first 40 days?

There are many customs and traditions followed during the first 40 days after delivery, which vary across regions. Your mother may give you a special massage or some traditional food meant for a new mum. A well-meaning elder in the family may introduce you to healing exercises and interesting rituals. Though some of these customs may be difficult to follow, you may find some of them useful. If you feel like the traditional restrictions linked to this period are difficult to follow, speak openly to your family members about your feelings. With the exhaustion of the delivery and the baby blues kicking in, it is best to take things at your pace and give yourself the best chances of a quick recovery. Some of these restrictions were useful at a certain period in the past but might not be as relevant today. Others, such as the traditional post-delivery massage, might make you feel good. Just keep in mind that the better you feel, the better you will be able to look after your little one.