Carrying a baby for weeks does a lot of changes to the body. Without mincing words, many of these changes are undesirable and constitute one reason some women don't want to ever get pregnant. Surrogacy or the act of outsourcing pregnancy is becoming more and more popular partly because many women can't afford to watch their body being degenerated by gestation.
I have watched with fascinated interest how the body of my wife changed from a slim and petite lady to almost an obese woman during the course of pregnancy. After delivery, the body naturally tries as much as possible to return back to its normal self. However, a popular saying in my culture opines that irrespective of how completely healed a wound is, the wounded part of the body can never remain like the rest of the body.
In other words, it is highly unlikely that a woman's body will spontaneously return to its pre-pregnancy structure, especially for first-time preggies. In actual fact, it takes a lot of hard work for a woman's body to return to a semblance of its old self after pregnancy delivery. For those that actively breastfeed after delivery, some of the hormones associated with breastfeeding make it twice as difficult.
In traditional Nigerian society, especially in the Southwestern part where I have spent all my life, there are rituals women are made to go through after delivery aimed at fast-tracking the return of the body, the bulging stomach especially, to its pre-pregnancy shape. These rituals include hot baths, steaming of the vagina, using a hot towel to massage the stomach, consumption of special herbs, and so on and so forth.
Most of the time, an individual is made to undergo a combination of 2 or more of the rituals listed. The hot bath involves bathing twice daily - morning and evening - with warm water. The steaming of the vagina, on the other hand, involves sitting on a container containing hot water. The hot water is usually infused with certain herbs, salt, or an antiseptic.
For the towel massage, the towel is dipped in hot water, squeezed to drain off the water, and immediately used to massage the stomach of the just-delivered woman. Both the vagina steaming and hot towel massage usually draw a loud cry from the women they are being administered to. This is usually done for 3 to 4 weeks after the delivery. Some localities make use of special herbal soups in addition to the two procedures above.
These procedures have been in practice for time immemorial, even when medical reports caution against them. It is also pertinent to state that the procedures exclude women that give birth using Caesarian sectioning, for obvious reasons. Medically, there are no special actions required for post-partum body recovery for women, and some of the practices like vaginal steaming and hot towel massage of the uterus have been reported to have the potential to cause harm to women.
In other words, postpartum body recovery is supposed to be spontaneous and if you are eager to be back in shape, light physical workouts have been reported to be of great help.
As an enlightened individual, I usually don't allow my wife to sit on a hot bath or get her uterus massaged with a hot towel after delivery. The first time, it was totally a strange stand to make to friends, neighbors, and families. Everyone thought that she will not return to a semblance of her old self and will most likely keep moving around with protruded belly. When they saw that it worked for me the first time, no one argued with me when our second baby arrived and I maintained my stand. Our second baby will be two years old by February and my wife is back in great shape.
Are there postpartum body recovery rituals in your area? Feel free to share with me in the comment section.
Thanks for reading.