Back in Shape: The first 40 days!

I followed my Indian roots for the first 40 days after delivery. You must be thinking: What does that mean? And why 40 days? Let me elaborate. The Indian culture (and also the Chinese culture) believes that approximately the first 1.5 month after delivery is critical for both mother and baby. Your body is weak and the baby will be going through a lot in his or her first weeks, which is why it is best to take it easy. This means that you are 1. not allowed to unnecessarily go outside, i.e. just go outside of your home if really needed, otherwise stay inside and focus on your well-being. Also, 2. keep yourself warm, especially if it is winter time. Due to weakness, you can get joint-pain much faster, which can lead to life-long pain when colder days arrive. Then, focus on resting. 3. Resting and relaxing is key. This is quite enjoyable ’cause almost everything is being done for you while you are resting. The more you rest, the faster the recovery. Lastly, there are 4. a few things you can’t eat or drink and a few things you have to eat or drink. Now, that can get annoying, as extra fat is often served. Honestly, during pregnancy I didn’t follow any of the so called “cultural” things. I enjoyed being very sober and just did things that felt right and doable for my body. However, after pregnancy, the influence of both my mother and mother-in-law became hard to avoid and to do my own thing. That is why I gave my first 40 days after delivery to them by doing everything that they suggested or expected from me. — Interestingly, during my pregnancy we went to a breastfeeding information session in which the speaker mentioned that the Indian and Chinese cultures have a tradition of a 40-day resting period. While less common today in many western cultures, she explained it was actually prevalent here as well in the period before women’s emancipation. Indeed, she said that it is in fact a great way for the mother to bond with the child and also contributes to getting the breastfeeding going. These days, societal and career pressures increasingly push a woman to return to her pre-pregnancy life as soon as possible after delivery. I was intrigued at hearing this from a non-Indian, who I assumed would be less biased towards traditional custom, and it only encouraged me to follow the 40 days routine. — Anyway, back to my 40 days. The four rules mentioned above are quite logical, maybe except from the eating/drinking one. Your body has been through a lot and it all started at the beginning of your pregnancy already. Now, you can’t expect your body to be immediately as fit and functional after delivery, as it was before pregnancy. These 40 days are purely for you to get stronger and feel better. Personally, I am very happy that I followed the 40 days routine, that I stayed inside as much as possible and really relaxed. Moreover, I got to spend so much more time with my daughter and husband, as I wasn’t busy with anything else than my family.

No formalities, no judgements, no expectations and no pressure!

Have you done the 40 days or something similar? What has been your experience?

If you have questions, suggestions and/or something to share, mail me at:


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