I am so excited to share with you all this AH-MAZ-ING and beyond important new book out by my fabulous girl Heng Ou, founder of Motherbees. The time post birth can be one of the most beautiful yet challenging times for a new mother. The postpartum period is a time of transformation, integration and healing, breastfeeding, imprinting, bonding with, establishing healthy attachment and getting to know your baby and how they tick. It’s a temporary time where everything is in flux- your body is in between what it was and what it will be. Your baby is here but their spirit is still transitioning into this world. Your relationship and family is going through a rebalancing as you integrate this baby into your lives. Your hormones and sleep patterns are all over the place …. Again this is all TEMPORARY and not how your life is going to be. When you carve out space to find your authentic way and heal properly the quicker and more prepared you will be when you come out the otherside. Heng’s book The First Forty Days is a must have for mind, body and spirit support during this sacred time. My book The Mindful Mom to Be takes your thru the pregnancy and touches a bit on the after – The first forty days is a great follow up and picks up where I leave off. I highly recommend this book to all new moms !
Here is a Q&A I did with Heng:
Tell me about your book:
The First Forty Days is the first book dedicated to “mothering the mother. It’s about nourishing and supporting a woman during her last trimester of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and into the early months of new motherhood. Growing a baby in pregnancy and bringing that child into the world through birth are massive achievements, but I believe that the period after birth is when the real work begins.
The book contains 60 recipes for warming soups and stews, lactation-promoting teas, and revitalizing smoothies (as well as other delicious drinks and dishes), but this is not simple a cookbook. The First Forty Days is about preparing and supporting a mother’s mind, body and spirit for the massive transformation that is new motherhood. The book also takes an honest look at the significance of pregnancy and birth, the relationship tension that can arise with baby’s arrival, and the challenges of navigating a new body and new identity.
You talk about how mothers get “dropped” after birth? What do you mean by that?
When I used to deliver fresh food to new mothers, I would often be invited in for a short visit. I saw that all new mothers were exhausted and often alone as most partners have to return to work a week or so after baby’s arrival. I would warm the soups and teas and ask her how she was doing and the responses were always the same: the mother would look at me with emptiness, fatigue, and despair and say, “I never thought it would be this hard.”
After a baby is birthed, the new mother is left with an open space inside of her. This space requires the energy of food and love to restore, replenish, and nourish her back to a strong and vital state.
Are there any tips you have for postpartum depression?
For some women, a version of depression is experienced before pregnancy and this might not show up until after birth. But for all women, the act of birth—whether vaginally or by c-section, naturally or with the assistance of drugs—is a deeply transformative experience. When women are given the space to process their birth experiences (this can be a simple as having a reliable friend to talk to or as structured as working with a therapist, energy healer, or homeopath) and have a support system set up for the early weeks with baby, they are less likely to experience deeply challenging emotions. Depression is rarely seen in women who are part of a culture that surrounds new mothers with support and consistent love and attention.
Why forty days?
Forty days is roughly the amount of time that new mothers in cultures around the world remain secluded from the busyness of life after birth, bonding with their new babies and regaining their strength and vitality. Forty days also correlates loosely to the western definition of postpartum; the six-week period of recovery after birth. This is usually when bleeding subsides, organs shift back into place, and mother and baby have established a sense of rhythm and connection with each other.
I love the part about prepping parties, tell me more about that.
There are simple things an expecting mother can do during the third trimester that will help her feel held during the early weeks with baby. A prepping party is a great way to gather loved ones around while stocking the freezer with broths and pantry items that can be easily turned to when baby is here and time and energy are limited. This is a also a great time toorganize a system of support. Friends and family can sign up to:
– do a couple loads of laundry
– pick up around the house
– hold baby while you nap, shower, or brush your teeth
– give you a shoulder or foot massage
– make a meal or two for you and your partner
– check in once a day via text or phone
How can partners contribute and participate —also what do they go through when baby arrives?
Partners also experience a range of feelings once baby arrives. Things may be doubly challenging for them as they did not go through the physical experience of pregnancy and birth and are not being flooded with hormones post-birth. In the First Forty Days we outline ways partners can help and also stress that they need to be loved, listened to, and fed as well.
What natural remedies do you recommend for breastfeeding?
In The First Forty Days many of our recipes include ingredients that support breastfeeding. You’ll find teas like Oats, Ginger & Cinnamon, warming soups like Fish, Papaya & Peanut Soup, even a hearty slow braised pig trotters dish — all designed to encourage lactation, while also revitalizing and nourishing your entire being.
I recently came up with a new oatmeal recipe that’s incredibly tasty and ideal for breastfeeding mothers. Two kinds of oats give the cereal a wonderfully chewy texture while also providing a necessary boost of iron, which helps to maintain a new mother’s strength and vitality.
This recipe makes 2 servings, ideally served in a glass jar (so you can see all of its colorful goodness).
1 cup steel cuts
1 cups rolled oats
pinch of salt
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
4 tbsp chia seeds
Tasty add-ins: your milk of choice (check out MotherBee’s Kauai-inspired nut milk) maple syrup, fruit, nuts, and additional seeds (pumpkin, hemp, etc.)
Add rolled and steel cut oats to a small pot and fill with water just until covered. Soak overnight (leave on the kitchen counter). In the morning add the tapioca to the soaked oats and cook uncovered on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until the steel cut oats are tender and the tapioca is clear and soft (make sure the water level is just above the oats and tapioca). Give the mixture a good stir every few minutes. At the last five minutes stir in the chia seeds.
I like to pour the milk in first at the bottom of the jar along with the maple syrup. I then add a layer of the oat and tapioca mixture, then a layer of chopped fruitand nuts, then another layer of the oat mixture, then a layer of fruit and nuts, and then a final drizzle of maple syrup.