Have you heard of the 4th Trimester or Babymoon? In many cultures this is the time, after the birth of a baby, where a Mother is supported to rest, bond and complete her transition from Maiden to Mother with the support of her family and community.
It is a time of integration when a woman, a mother, can not only heal physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually after being broken wide open in the raw, wild, chaotic and vulnerable journey of birth…
“The first 40 days after birth are seen as sacred and very private.”
In many cultures around the world new mothers are relieved of all their duties in order to protect and allow the mother-baby relationship to flourish. The first 40 days after birth are seen as sacred and very private. Some new mothers go and live with their own mothers for three months, where they are fed and can rest in order to build up strength, recover their bodies and regain their life force energy. In some traditions they are not allowed to exert any effort or even travel and another family member is expected to take over the daily chores. Some customs even dictate that new mums should stay in bed with their baby for 21 days or stay indoors for the first few weeks.
In the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda the period after birth is referred to as the fourth trimester. This time is seen as crucial for the mother because a woman is ‘reborn’ after she gives birth. It’s believed every pore of her body is open, so it’s the ideal opportunity to regenerate and rejuvenate.
Not many women in our western society are given this time of having no obligations or responsibilities to the outside world, this time to integrate and recuperate after the experience of childbirth.
When we look at the entire birthing journey as a rite of passage, a hero’s journey that each woman undertakes, then we can reframe this experience from one that is undervalued and censored to one that is celebrated, not just for providing a healthy new human but also for the powerful alteration that occurs within each woman.
She is not the same person who entered the Labyrinth at the beginning of her journey, she has been stripped bare, made vulnerable, faced the unknown, visited the underworld and been reborn as something new. She is a beautiful butterfly emerging from the cocoon and just like any delicate new born, she needs to be surrounded by nurturing love and support as she dries off those new wings and evaluates her new self with all of the changes that may have occurred.