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Why You Should Try Lying In Postpartum

Let someone take care of you while you take care of baby.

Why You Should Try Lying In Postpartum

With all the pressure on new mothers to quickly rebound from birth, we love the concept of “Lying In,” or taking some time postpartum to heal and bond with your baby. We’ve partnered with Earth Mama Angel Baby to share a real life story of “lying in” from Motherbees founder Heng Ou, and show you how important it is to slow down and adjust to your new life as a mama.

The day after I gave birth to my first daughter Khefri, the old ways of China showed up at my door in the form of my Auntie Ou. Fresh off the bus from Oakland, her shopping bags brimming with knobs of ginger, ruby-colored goji berries, and freshly harvested chicken feet, she bustled into my Silver Lake home with her daughter Wendy at her side.

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They’d come, she briskly informed me in Mandarin, to induct me into the postpartum tradition known as zuo yuezi, which means “sitting the month” or less poetically, “confinement.” This month-long regimen of nourishing foods, deep rest, and seclusion was critical for ensuring my strong recovery from childbirth, my future reproductive health, and plentiful breast milk for my baby, she said.

I had long since fled the restricting atmosphere of my first-generation immigrant upbringing in Maryland for art school and a more bohemian life in Los Angeles. But I always remained close with Auntie Ou, a renowned Chinese herbalist who diagnosed ailments with a glance and was renowned for her prowess in the kitchen. Ordering me to stay in bed with Khefri, she set black vinegar on the stove to purify the air and shook her head disapprovingly at my “open” or “yin” state. If left untreated it would lead to fatigue, back pain, ill-health, and depression. Deep in my bones, I knew her presence was non-negotiable. “Lying in” was my only option.

Besides, who was I to argue? Like many women, I thoroughly prepared for a healthy pregnancy and birth, but I hadn’t planned for postpartum. I had some fuzzy images of myself, glowing and triumphant, with an adorable, pink-cheeked babe swaddled in my arms. But the reality was not so rosy. Sore, achy, and sweaty, still bleeding post-birth, my tiny daughter and I fumbled through the first steps of breastfeeding while my hormones were roller-coastering and days and nights blurred together in a haze of sleeplessness.

So, I did not protest when Wendy heaped blankets on my bed, popped a wool hat on my head, and banned showers until further notice (they were too cooling). I gratefully received the warming, ginger-spiked tea, soft and digestible rice porridge swirled with black sesame paste, immune-boosting bone broths, and breast-milk-enriching soups. I let Auntie Ou sequester my cell phone and police visitors for this fleeting phase of bonding with my baby.

My bed became the center of my universe. There, I surrendered to a simple, repetitive existence of nursing, eating and sleeping. And after two-weeks of dedicated care, my relatives returned north leaving my freezer stocked with pig trotters to fortify the blood and fish-and-papaya soup to promote lactation. I maintained this restorative regimen and a few weeks later began emerging from my cocoon, physically stronger, emotionally steady, ready to meet the world as a mother.

Zuo yuezi’s practice of woman-to-woman care stretches back thousands of years and is still prevalent in China today (though well-heeled women are now doing it their own way by checking into luxury postpartum hotels). Its tenets are simple and universal: From India to Mexico, from Russia to Indonesia, to the Ivory Coast and beyond, remarkably similar cultural codes dictate that a new mother is to be encircled with support for 21, 30, or 40 days. In that space, freed from all responsibilities, she can focus on recovering from pregnancy and birth and nursing and bonding with her newborn. Most importantly, she is never to be left alone.

The first weeks after giving birth can be blissful; they can also be isolating, stressful, exhausting, and lacking in vital nutrition—four factors that contribute to postpartum depression. Time-honored protocols like zuo yuezi have protected new mothers’ well-being and ensured baby’s best start for eons. Sadly, this attention and care is a far cry from what most first-world women—especially in the U.S., the only developed nation with no mandatory maternity leave—experience today.

Sitting the month and lying in inspired my passion for reviving this lost art—for my generation of mothers and our daughters when they follow. I began creating modern interpretations of these restorative recipes and gathering wisdom for what I call “the first forty days”—the roughly six-week period of postpartum. I discovered that the cocoon of maternal care can be spun without a squadron of aunties on hand. It can be built from small acts of giving by friends, family, and neighbors. A pot of soup made with simple, nourishing ingredients; an offer to stop by with groceries and clean laundry; a listening ear on an especially fatigued day, and a gentle gaze that says, “I see you.”

In a society that pressures women to “bounce back” right after giving birth, forty days of loving gestures offers the mother a rare and precious alternative: to sink into stillness with her newborn, and receive.

Find out more about about lying in with Earth Mama Angel Baby here.

*We are so grateful when brands support our content and community. This post was sponsored by Earth Mama Angel Baby.

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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