Guest blogger Christina Fiedler: Two weekends ago I was at a picnic, and my girlfriend came by with her new baby girl. (By the way, I don't care what anyone says, there is a difference between holding a little girl and a little boy. They just feel different.) The baby couldn't have been more than a few weeks old. Aside from becoming nostalgic for the sweet, sweet smell and gurgling of a newborn, it reminded me of something my loving grandmother once told me.
When I first had my son Joseph, she said that in her day, her mother wouldn't have let her out of the house unless two months had passed since she had the baby. This is the old myth of 40 days of rest -- that both mother, and baby, should not leave the house and have someone care for them for a forty-day period, so that the mother can heal and the baby can grow strong.
Considering that my grandmother was the same person who also told me that 1) sitting on cold concrete could give you hemorrhoids and that 2) if you do not remove a splinter it could travel through your system and straight to your heart, I brushed it off as another old wives' tale.
Since I never died from a splinter and my husband has never had hemorrhoids (he's from Colorado where concrete is usually cold), I nearly forgot about this grandmotherly advice until I ventured out one day when Joseph was about four weeks old. We went to pick up dry cleaning, and the owner of the store, who for the past nine months took delight in seeing me grow to the size of a small house, rushed out before I had even walked through the front door. She ordered me back home. In fact, she went so far as to double check the baby to be sure he was all bundled and secure. She said to me in Spanish, "Get back home! It's been less than 40 days! You should not be out!" My dry cleaner happens to be from Guadalajara.
Further research revealed that this is not just a Mexican belief. It is typical of most Latin American countries. According to the American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, most Latinas observe the cuarentena -- 40 days of rest and recuperation after birth. During this time some will not take showers during the first days, won't stand up or pick up heavy things, and won't eat hot meals or beans in order to prevent gas. Some believe that it is not healthy to leave the home for the first weeks and may even miss the first post-partum appointments.
For those of you at home right now with a newborn, loads of unfolded laundry and a sink of dirty dishes, I bet you're wondering when the heck your cuarentena starts?
I'd like mine to start now please.
|Christina Montoya Fiedler resides in Los Angeles, CA, with husband Andy and her son Joseph. She juggles baby and work from home as a freelance publicist and attributes her strong love for life and sense of humor to her loving familia.|
Join Christina in the momlogic community's Latina Mamas group!