Why I think 40-day postpartum Confinement is not a prerequisite anymore
There is so much noise about Kareena Kapoor being out and about so soon after delivery, and that noise is not all positive. People have been talking about how she is irresponsible for not taking the ‘mandatory’ 40 days off.
Traditionally women have been taking this time off for warding off any unnecessary infections postpartum. Since it is a delicate time period for the mother to bond with the baby and understand the new routine of her life. Biologically it takes 40 days for the uterus to shrink back to its original size and settle back in the pelvic cavity. Hence women have been made to observe the 40 days confinement.
Essentially once the baby is born the mother’s life changes completely, that’s what the traditional belief is. In reality, it does change a great deal. But let’s understand this in the modern context. A baby is an addition to a woman’s life, and it has to be a welcome addition. To be a good mother, one has to be a happy mother. The kind of external pressure a new mother has to deal with is completely unwarranted.
A new mother is going through so much a biological transformation within herself; she is dealing the dip in hormones that is already putting her moods at different levels. On top of it she is dealing with this little human whom she has eagerly waited for, who only drinks milk, sleeps, wails and poops. So the people in her life judging her on a scale of bad to good mom are really unfair.
Coming back to the 40 day confinement period, we are in a modern world with modern medicine and lifestyles having moved forward a great distance. So, every woman can ‘choose’ to live her 40 days in confinement or get out and about in the world. It should depend on how her body and mind feels about it, traditional perceptions notwithstanding. I remember the flak I received for attending an office dinner within few days of my delivery. How I was commented upon being an irresponsible mom. I had personally started going out for walks and to coffee shops within a week of delivering by C-section. It was something that was needed to get away from the feeling of being available on-call for the baby.
Women in Nuclear families have to get back to kitchen and house chores immediately irrespective of what their bodies are telling them. Although with my mom being there to help me with baby chores, I had to get back to kitchen for work since my maid had run away. If a woman has a strong support staff at home and chooses to get back to life as it was before the baby immediately after childbirth, whether work related or personal, then be it. Making negative comments about it only shows how ill informed some of us are.
In closing, I believe the 40-day confinement is a matter of choice and not a mandate anymore. Let the new mother choose whether she would want to rest and take those days off, or get back to life, out and about.
- Srushti Rao
- January 3, 2017
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