Voluntary House Arrest

I want to share one of the best decisions we made in those first few months after our baby girl was born. We were reluctant and, at times, wanted to throw in the towel, but, in hindsight, we’re so glad we listened to my mom on this one. 

In many parts of India, after a baby is born, the mother and child will not leave the home and not have visitors for the first 100 days.  Only immediate family could visit. We adopted this practice. This was hard for some friends and relatives and for us, who so needed the social interaction and just a break from the grueling time of caring for a newborn. 

Doctors visits were expected so that wasn’t off the table but, otherwise, our friends didn’t meet our precious daughter until she was almost 4 months old.  And we’re so glad. As the mom, my job was to focus on taking care of my daughter while my husband and mother helped take care of her and me. I didn’t have to worry about hosting anyone, asking people to come or leave at certain times, getting dressed or entertaining. I could help my body recover from an unwanted c-section and the disappointment of that, deal with the struggles that come with breastfeeding, and bond with my daughter without distraction.

My husband and I realized that we would never again, for the rest of our lives, have our daughter to ourselves, not having to share her with anyone. As time passed, we settled into our decision and, when needed, I made exciting trips to the post office or grocery store for more stimulation. At month 4, we hosted friends and family every weekend and boy was that exhausting. Once we got over the protectiveness and not wanting to share her, we were coordinating schedules, buying groceries, preparing meals for guests, and working around her schedule. We realized what a blessing those 100 days were.

I believe this tradition came about for several reasons. At the basic level, it was to protect baby’s immunity and from all the germs we carry day to day. Even more importantly, though, I think it was to protect baby’s heart and mind from the negative energy that we pick up or some individual’s carry.

Our daughter is a total firecracker and can very much be a toddler at times. However, overall, she is calm, astute, compassionate and we believe those first months had a lot to do with her nature that is void of anxiety and fear.

All of my nieces and nephews also enjoyed this initial period of hibernation and I can attest to their similar natures. I’ve suggested this to friends who refused to try it because of the number of relatives in the area or their need for social interaction (I get it, trust me) but when hearing from them after that 4th trimester, each of them has shared how they wished they had done the same- how they recall running up to their room and crying because they just needed a break and the house was filled with loving but needy guests. This was even worse for those who didn’t have parents staying with them to help. I hurt for them and how they were robbed of the ability to recover and heal at their pace. Don’t get me started at the inadequate time a mother and/or father get with their babies and to recover before having to go back to work.

I completely understand why this practice came to be and know that many other cultures worldwide follow similar traditions.  I will, without hesitation, repeat this with children in the future. Even if 90 or 100 days is more than you can do, try 30, 45, or 60 as time for you and baby alone. Trust me, you nor your baby will regret it.

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