World Day of Cultural Diversity provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the practices and values of other cultures. We find it to be especially important to look to other cultures in order to learn from their wisdom on healing practices. Here at Ritual Meals, it is part of our manifesto to preserve global rituals in order to empower and nourish women through their most transformational wellness journey.
When we turn to other cultures and observe their abundant postpartum practices, we then notice a distinct lack of postpartum practices among Western cultures. A recent study found that postpartum disorders, including the “baby blues,” were virtually nonexistent. On the flip side, 50% to 85% of new mothers in industrialized nations experience the “baby blues,” and 15% to 25% (or more) experience postpartum depression.
Rich and diverse postpartum practices protect the new mother
They found that all of the studied cultures had specific rituals they turned to when supporting a new mother. While these practices vary from culture to culture, they shared a few common themes:
1. A distinct postpartum period
A time recognized as distinct from normal life, where the mother regains her strength and does limited activities.
2. Protective measures reflecting the new mother’s vulnerability
New mothers are considered to be vulnerable during this time and personal care activities are performed on her. Activities such as massage and hair washing are noted in Guatemalan, Mayan, and Latina cultures
3. Social seclusion and mandated rest
This is a time for the vulnerable mother to refrain from social activity in order to properly heal.This seclusion and rest is also noted to promote milk production. In the Punjab, women are secluded from everyone except female relatives and midwives for 5 days. In contrast, new mothers in America are expected to entertain all family members and friends who come to visit the newborn.
4. Functional assistance
In these cultures studied, all new mothers were provided with someone to care for the rest of her family and maintain the house while she was resting and healing.
5. Social recognition of her new role and status
A great deal of personal attention is given to a mother through recognizing her new role with gifts and social rituals. In China and Nepal, very little attention is placed on the pregnancy and the main focus is on the mother after the baby is born. This differs quite a bit from what mothers in America experience.
From reading through these themes, we can clearly see that other cultures differ in the way that they treat the postpartum period of a woman's life. American mothers find that more of people's attention is placed on her during the pregnancy rather than after she delivers the baby. Upon returning home, a mother may find herself without the proper support needed to adjust to this new life. The attention might also be solely placed on the baby rather than checking in with how the mother is feeling with her new role in life. It is no wonder that many new mamas can be left feeling blue!
Here at Ritual Meals, we believe new mothers in our communities should and can thrive postpartum. We want to do our part in making this time period as smooth of a transition as possible. The collective wisdom of generations of grandmothers have taught us that these rituals are essential for a new mother's postpartum journey:
Keep the body warm inside and out after giving birth, so that you maintain good circulation which aids the body's healing process.
Make your rest a priority, so that you build more energy, strength, and clarity to care for your newborn.
Eat nourishing, easy to digest food designed for postpartum, so that you replenish what was lost during birth and strengthen your body to meet every challenge.
Welcome help in the other areas of your life, so that you can focus on resting and bonding with your baby. Receiving support in the areas you prefer not to focus on is the greatest way to honor yourself on your motherhood journey.
This is why we thoughtfully craft each meal with ingredients to support and heal you during this important phase of life. We infuse the ancient wisdom passed down from generation to generation into our meals and postpartum program. We hope that through our meal programs, you can get a taste of these various cultural practices for yourself.