The First 40 Days Are for Nesting, Feeding and Loving

· October 4, 2017

The first 40 days after childbirth are meant for a few specific things: it is a time to nest, to be in magical intimacy, to love with delicacy, to get to know your little one, to welcome him to the world and to love him skin-on-skin.

The world pauses. Everything stops and starts at the same time, because few moments are more magical than those in which we finally welcome our children after having carried them for 9 months inside us.

One of the most interesting books about the puerperium is “Safe Postpartum” by Beatrijs Smulders. This author, a professional midwife, immerses us completely in the common tasks, scenarios and situations that mothers and fathers experience during this time, which of course extends well beyond the classic 40 days.

As we have previously pointed out on this site, the puerperium can last as long as a year. This book guides us in a realistic way through all of those experiences, which form a true kaleidoscope of fears, emotions, physical exhaustion, challenges, problems and happiness.

Something very clear is that many mothers are almost forced to emerge from a purely physical and emotional universe such as childbirth in order to compulsively dive into the concrete reality that is work, money, schedules and daily routines, while the baby’s intimate and whispering life is there.

How do we balance everything? How can we be in tune with every need and every obligation? It is certainly a complex and exciting journey.

Whether we believe it or not, those first 40 days after childbirth matter, and matter a lot. It is the grand welcoming, the adaptation and discovery of us as mothers and our partners as parents.

Baby sleeping drawing

Throughout the first 40 days after childbirth, you need intimacy

The first 40 days after childbirth are yours. It is the territory of Mom and Dad, and together with the baby, you all create a unique sphere, magical and bordered by intense emotions that belong only to the three of you.

It is okay if you do not receive visits for a few days and if you leave aside your goals and work obligations. There is someone more important, someone who requires your attention, caresses, food and love… the baby.

It is the time of nesting

Nesting concretely means making a nest to live in. There is nothing wrong with using the terms of the animal kingdom, because in the end, the behaviors and ends are the same: raising children and giving them protection, warmth, love and, of course, food.

  • Mom and Dad nest together with the baby to welcome him after delivery.
  • We nest because we need to be close to each other.
  • We nest so that we become role models for the baby.
  • We nest to be calm, to reassure each other, and to discover ourselves in our new roles, needs and obligations.
  • We nest together to take care of ourselves, because not only does the baby need everything from us, the mother needs the father because she is exhausted, because her body hurts and because we all need affection, care and attention.
  • We nest to breastfeed and to have the baby skin-to-skin and heart-to-heart. 
cartoon drawing of mom holding baby

The best weapon in those first days: your sixth sense

In those first 40 days there are many challenges to deal with: adaptation, breastfeeding, nighttime rest, the umbilical cord, the pacifier, the crib, colic and especially crying.

  • Knowing how to interpret the baby’s crying is undoubtedly the first necessity that every mother takes on almost as an obligation. Does he cry out in hunger? Does something hurt? Is it because of the diaper? It is normal to become obsessed during the first few days. However, little by little the fears will calm down and rationalized, while the so-called sixth sense also emerges.
  • Almost without realizing it, a sense of calmness arrives during those 40 days and we understand that what the baby needs most is our closeness. We realize that holding him in our arms is soothing, that breastfeeding relaxes him while also serving to nourish him. 

Our maternal instinct, that newly released sense, is a real super power that completely tunes us in with the baby. Those 40 days after childbirth will be difficult at some point, of course, but with the right perspective they will rise as one of the most important stages in your life.

What we need first of all is to create a circle of intimacy and simply nest as a family. The world, with its rush, pressures, work, friends and visits can wait a little while, because this time belongs to us.