New mothers in Kerala get the royal treatment, I’ve heard.
Bedrest at Your Mama’s Place
After delivering a baby, you lie on your back at your mother’s house and do nothing for a prolonged period: 28 to 90 days. Your husband keeps doing his thing at his house. Special medicines, massages and food are given to get the mother back to good health. That means your house becomes saturated with the smell of ayurvedic treatments.
My mom says in the old days, mothers worked so nonstop hard, this was the only time they could rest. And it was essential, as their bodies needed recovery from labor and delivery. Other women kinfolk would come to the house to take care of things while the mother was in repose.
All I know about post natal care in Kerala is what I’ve heard through the grapevine, so this is by no means an official description — just what people around me have said.
My Post-Delivery Regimen
Having just delivered a baby, I’m on a very modified version of these customs that have trickled down.
I did not lay flat on my back for days on end, but I do get to rest. I really didn’t know how grueling recovery could be. Thank God for grandparents. The first two weeks, my mom helped feed and change the baby at night. This gave my husband a good night’s sleep, so he could go to work. The second two weeks, my husband’s parents helped the second half of the night and throughout the day.
Baby and I stayed at my mom’s house during baby’s second week, which was a wonderful experience. After the trauma of delivery and recovery, the best healing process is to be nurtured by your mother.
Both sets of parents arranged to procure ayurvedic herbal concoctions and massage oils from India. I’m on a twice daily regimen of spoonfuls of arishtam (herbal extract) and lehyam. My meals are mostly backyard vegetables (turned into thoran), fruit, rice and proteins. Nothing processed. I love eating appam, puttu and upma for breakfast.
One ayurveda website recommends avoiding meat, beans and eggs. Funny, because I’ve been eating all three for the protein.
We have a cousin whose baby was given a drop of honey on a gold ring to taste as soon as he was born. (They had to sneak this from the doctors!) Apparently it is thought to bring prosperity. We thought about doing this, just for fun, but ended up changing our minds.