We Would Do Well To Embrace Hispanic Tradition

While I’m oftentimes the first person to trumpet the accomplishments of modern medicine, at times I find that ancient traditions still have a lot to teach us. In particular, I’m thinking of the Hispanic custom of “cuarentena” after childbirth.

In a recent article by author Lourdes Alcañiz, she discusses the many benefits of this practice. It is a wonderful practice, and I believe we could learn a lot from embracing this cultural wisdom and adopting it in the U.S.

Alcañiz correctly points out that for most new moms their first feeling is being overwhelmed. As she says, “such a tiny and fragile being depends on you – paired with the physical exhaustion of delivery, hormonal mood swings, and the lack of sleep – can be pretty tough on women.”

Then she applauds her Hispanic ancestors who created “a wonderful tradition for new moms: la cuarentena, which is still observed in many countries. It is “a period of approximately 40 days, or six weeks, during which the new mom abstains from sex and is solely dedicated to breastfeeding and taking care of her baby and herself.”

This next part of the explanation has me nodding in approval: “During this time, other members of the family pitch in to cook, clean, and take care of other children, if there are any.”

While Alcañiz recognizes that our current lifestyle would make it extremely difficult to follow a traditional cuarentena, she does suggest that new moms may have their own mothers or mother-in-laws, or other relatives or friends who can visit for a few days. “Even if you don’t have the luxury of resting for a full six weeks,” she said, “there are ways you can take advantage of the time available to rest as much as possible.”

Other ideas that Alcañiz suggests that honor the Hispanic tradition are:

• Accept live-in help. If any relatives have volunteered to live with you for a short period of time, don’t reject the offer.

• Ask for help when you need it. Explain to those who’ve offered to help exactly what you need from them. Sometimes we don’t ask for what we truly need for fear of seeming demanding or rude.

• Rest whenever you can, even it’s just a catnap. Your body needs all the rest it can get to recover from the delivery and the nine months of pregnancy.

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~ by ppdsus on September 19, 2014.

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