The First Forty Days is based on Five Insights or common themes that are found in traditional postpartum care around the world: Retreat, Warmth, Support, Rest, and Ritual. These five insights are timeless, remaining just as relevant to the modern new American mother as they were to a mother in 1950s China or 1920s India. While each insight is applicable to every mother’s experience, some may seem a bit strange at first. Take Retreat, the first Insight. Unless you’re retreating to a week of yoga in Costa Rica or a month of meditation in an ashram, you likely have never used the word in a sentence.
Retreat is our take on the “confinement” aspect of strict postpartum protocols like China’s zuo yuezi. We’ve loosened up the restrictions a bit — we’re assuming that most new mothers can’t click completely out of their lives for 40 days, to do nothing but lie in bed with their baby — instead encouraging less obvious, but equally effective shifts in the way you interface with the outside world and the stimulation that you allow into your space. In the First Forty Days universe, Retreat means acknowledging the significance and sacredness of the the early weeks postpartum by creating a safe, quiet, still place to sink into the newness of motherhood and allow your body to heal from pregnancy and birth. There are so many ways to retreat! You can put an away message on your email, warn friends and family that you’ll only be checking texts every other day, or put a sign on the door saying “please come back later, mama and baby sleeping.” Remember, Retreat is a verb, but it’s also a noun. Give yourself permission to draw boundaries and exercise the will power required to disconnect from the outside world for a bit and create your own refuge, haven, or sanctuary.