North Indian Postnatal Care Explained

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In today’s post I will be sharing with you the North Indian postnatal care in terms of confinement period, diet, oil massage, belly regime and other traditional methods.

From the very first day you know you are pregnant, you start to collect as much information as possible about pre natal care and of course about how to take care of the baby after delivery.

Little do we talk, discuss or collect information about postnatal care.

Many a times, we forget that postnatal care is really important for a new mother who has undergone a lot of emotional and physical changes through out her pregnancy and delivery.

And nowadays more mothers choose not to follow the traditional postnatal period. Either they have to go back to work or do not have the necessary support.

Some even think that the concept of postnatal care is an old generation practice.

Postnatal care in North India:

north indian postnatal care

The postpartum care and diet in India varies widely based on region, culture, tradition and religious practices. Post natal care according to North Indian culture lasts for 6-8 weeks or 40 days beginning right after the delivery.

The main part of postnatal care includes a confinement period of 40 days in which new mom and the baby stay home for 40 days after birth.

During the confinement period proper rest and nutritional diet is offered for the mother. Postpartum care also includes a body massage, bath regime, belly binding and a practice of head covering.

Certain restrictions are also imposed on the new mom and baby as a part of the confinement period.

In North India a maushi or thai is usually hired to help in postpartum care. She will take care of bathing the baby, mother and also helps in preparing postnatal foods.

What is confinement period?

Confinement is about keeping a new mother and her baby at home for a certain number of days or weeks after delivery.

In North India confinement period for new moms and their babies lasts for 40 days starting from the day of delivery.

The tradition is followed to protect both the mom and the baby from any infections. It also helps the mother to recover physically and mentally.

Most of the health issues like back pains and joint pains that women get in their later years are caused due to lack of proper care during the postpartum period.

The main aim of confinement period is to provide proper rest and nutrition for the mom so that she will not have depression, fatigue, sleep deprivation, anxiety and weight gain.

Why 40 days of confinement?

It is believed that atleast 6-8 weeks or 40 days are necessary for a new mother to regain her energy and heal the physical traumas of delivery.

North Indian postnatal diet:

Recovery of the mother depends on what she eats after delivery.

Traditionally new mums are offered specific foods that are believed to speed up recovery and provide vital nutrients to the new mother and her baby.

A diet that is rich in foods that keep body warm, help in production of milk and also aid in digestion is recommended as part of Indian postpartum care.

Postpartum diet usually will include different types of laddoos, parathas(flat bread) and kheers. All such foods are prepared with ingredients like sesame, ajwain, fenugreek, turmeric, broken wheat, semolina and dry fruits. These have unique nutrients that aid in lactation, speedy recovery and digestion.

Along with that intake of water and ghee is also considered really important for new moms.

The diet followed in North Indian postnatal care will be discussed in detail in a coming post.

Postnatal massaging practiced in North India:

A new mother is given a full body oil massage in order to stimulate the blood circulation and to soothe her bones and muscles. Massaging also helps her body cells and tissues to heal faster, thus making her calm and centered.

A maushi or thai takes care of the new mom during her confinement days and she massages the mother’s body in traditional ways. Read to know about the benefits of postnatal massage for new moms.

Oil used for massaging:

People use different variety of oils for postpartum body massage and all offer different benefits.

  • Sesame oil (til ka tel)

Sesame oil is used for massages in many regions of India, especially in Maharashtra. Sesame oil is believed to control stress and blood pressure and has cooling properties.

  • Coconut oil (nariyal ka tel)

It is usually used for head massages. It gives a cooling hydrating effect on the body.

Coconut oil when applied on pregnant belly reduces the appearance of stretch marks as it works as a natural moisturizer. Coconut oil smells pleasant and is quickly absorbed by the skin.

  • Olive oil (jaitoon ka tel)

Olive oil is increasingly being used in many regions, especially in urban areas. It is good for skin and hair.

In case of C- section oil massage is done only after the stitch gets healed.

Bath regime followed in postpartum care:

After oil massaging hot water is used for bathing. Hot water is poured on the lower abdomen and the pelvic area.

Warm water that has been boiled with neem leaves are used for bathing for other parts of the body. Neem leaves are a natural antiseptic. Lukewarm water can soothe tired and aching muscles.

Commercial soaps are avoided to wash off the body oil. A paste of chickpea flour mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of milk cream is used as soap for the new mother and the baby.

The practice of belly binding post delivery:

After bathing the tummy is tied with a cotton sari or cloth and this is a common practice followed in North Indian postnatal care.

It is believed that it helps to push the uterus back and help to keep it in place. Belly binding also helps to get rid of the stomach gas. You can also read about the benefits of belly binders.

Covering your head during confinement period:

Post delivery, women are made to cover their head with scarf the whole day as a part of North Indian tradition.

It is believed that body heat is lost primarily through one’s head and that a new mother needs to preserve her body heat to recover. Covering your head is believed to keep you warm and protect you from infections.

Restrictions imposed during the confinement period:

Few restrictions are also imposed on the new mom as a part of the North Indian postpartum care.

It is believed that following these restrictions helps a mother avoid health problems such as backaches, headaches and body pains later in life.

  • Avoiding ac or fan, as ac and fan can cause cold for new moms.
  • No reading or watching TV (this results in headache)
  • No shouting, crying or engaging in stressful conversation
  • No doing of house hold works
  • Staying in a room till the confinement period ends
  • Sleep when the baby sleeps(best advice ever heard)

So this was all about North Indian postnatal care. If you have any caring tips, do share with us and all other mommies here. We would love to know about your postnatal period.

About Author

A Keralite by birth, bought up in Mumbai and now staying at Doha, Geetu is a mother to a 2 year old naughty pie. She believes motherhood is the best thing happened to her.

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