By Gill Merzvinskis
When I was preparing for my Calmbirth class a few weeks ago, a new dad cycled up to my door at 8.30 am with a book that he and his wife were very anxious to share with all expectant couples. They had become parents just 6 weeks earlier after attending my classes and I had visited them a couple of times. I felt it was such a sweet gesture because the book is magnificent and I do indeed share it with all couples in my classes. The book is called “the first forty days” – The essential art of nurturing the new mother, by Heng Ou together with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.
The book is designed to be a guide as you work your way through the fog of the first few weeks of motherhood and acknowledges that the new mother is as vulnerable as the new baby….. therefore, how can we best help and nurture her. It is a wonderful book of wisdom gained from many cultures around the world that acknowledge and respects the post partum period of 4-6 weeks and the massive transition it is for the mother as well as the baby.
It allows for the time it actually takes for this major transformation to occur and respects the need for the mother to be allowed to recover, replenish and be guided into her new role very respectfully.
Forty days for forty weeks, one day for every week of the pregnancy as some cultures see it.
How insightful to acknowledge the major physical and emotional/psychological demands and changes to the pregnant woman as her baby grows and then the huge physical/emotional endurance made on her by birth. Followed by the ongoing demands of the transition to motherhood. No wonder the mother needs to rest, recover and replenish and that is highly unlikely to happen in a few days as often expected in the west!
So the book is not only full of wisdom and understanding of the need to mother the mother but also has superb recipes in it to help nourish and replenish her. Warm hearty broths, healing soups, replenishing snacks, calming lactation boosting teas, all based on simplicity. It is not a medical book; it simply is a beautiful guide attempting to lay a framework for a healthy start to motherhood. This would be a superb gift for a mother to be. It is hoped that the mother will read the book before the baby is born so that she can start to plan her village and that her main support people will read it so they know how they can best support her. It is based on the personal experience of the author and is a wonderful and insightful read. The couple that donated the book to me are delighted that I share it with my couples in the classes that I run. I am very happy to recommend it to a wider audience.