Puerperal or postpartum period, known as “la cuarentena” in Spanish refers to the 40 day period after a woman gives birth. In Spanish culture, it is a period in which the new mother and infant rest and remain at home. It coincides with the physical and hormonal process in which the woman’s body returns to normality after the pregnancy and birth.
I am nearly at the end of my “puerperio” or “cuarentena” which finishes this week. It has been a really interesting experience. Why? Well, before giving birth I had no idea what I would do, how I would feel or what I would need during this time. Friends advised me to stock up the larder and other mums recounted their experiences of rest and recovery post birth that lasted for a week or 10 days. It was a mysterious land and since I was still in pregnancy country, I made the decision to “feel into it” when the time eventually arrived.
Giving birth is an emotional roller coaster, even for a mum who has given birth mostly the way she has wanted to. For me, I was dealing with having had to give birth in hospital and all that came with it, (when I really didn’t want to), as well as the post natal hormonal changes and readjustments. So the first week to 10 days after having Lennon were intense, emotional and charged with a mixture of tears and gratitude.
Slowly over the last 6 weeks my gaze has turned from myself to himself and this postpartum time has provided a space for me to concentrate on Lennon, concentrate on breastfeeding, concentrate on our connection.These weeks have given me the opportunity to remain inward looking, remaining in close contact with myself and my internal world, which for the moment includes another delightful being: my son.
During this time, I have rarely left the house and limit visitors to one a day. Visitors nurture me and also draw me outwards. I strive for the balance between support from others and maintaining this inward look.
As the postpartum winds down and I return to the domestic routine, I still gift myself the luxury of a morning in bed with Lennon, when Maria, Fionn and Nayra have gone off out on some adventure. I have him sleeping on top of me while I read or write or connect with friends virtually. i allow my hard working non stop side to rest and be in the present moment and delight in this new being that has joined my family. I hope to go on gifting myself these precious moments after the 40 days have passed.
And slowly I begin to return to domestic chores, cooking, cleaning, keeping order…with that return, there has been a process of regrounding. Birth can and did take me into another dimension, its repercussions are still unknown but I now recognize that there has been a gradual re earthing again over the past weeks. It didn’t happen overnight. I was able to allow it to occur slowly. Listening to my own internal thermometer of how much contact and how much activity felt okay each day.
My “puerperio” would not have been possible with out the love and attention, cooked meals, fresh fruit and vegetables and shopping brought by many friends and family. THANK YOU!
I plan to mark the end of my “cuarentena” with a swim in the sea, something that has been prohibited since Lennon’s birth, a swim in the sea and a picnic with those that supported us in those early intense days.
My “cuarentena” ends but my plan is to hold onto its spirit, of delighting in the present moment, listening to my heart and to my inner wisdom, respecting rhythms… elements that bring me great vitality and meaning.