Giving birth is one thing that unites women from all different cultures around the world, but where you live can have a huge impact on your experience of birth and the early days of motherhood.
While here in the UK new mums often find themselves entertaining visitors and going out and about with their babies quite soon after giving birth, in other countries they have bed rest and recuperation for as long as 42 days. Here are just a few customs to be inspired by…
40 days of rest in Latin America
Mums are eased into motherhood in Latin America courtesy of a custom called la cuarentena (quarantine to you and me). In this 40-day period they recuperate from birth by abstaining from any physical activity. Meanwhile, female relatives and friends take care of household chores such as cooking, cleaning and looking after other children so that mums can focus on their newborn and get plenty of rest. Sounds blissful!
An escape from everyday life in Ecuador
La Dieta (the diet) is a custom in Ecuador whereby both mother and child remain indoors for 42 days after birth, and it is said to be incredibly nourishing for both of them.
The mother is freed of other daily duties and spends her time resting, nursing and caring for her newborn, helping them to create a strong and intimate bond.
Freebies for families in Finland
In Finland, all babies are given an equal start in life with a care package as a gift from the government. It was originally launched for low income families in the 1930s but became available to all by 1949 and contains baby essentials such as clothes, nappies and bedding all within a cardboard box that can double up as a cot. What a great idea!
Free postnatal care in the Netherlands
Standard health insurance packages in the Netherlands provide mothers with Kraamhulp, maternity home care for the first eight to ten days. A nurse comes into the home to provide medical care, cook, clean and share parenting advice. They will also manage the flow of visitors and make the traditional snack, beschuit met muisjes. Sign us up.
Job security in Germany
There’s no need to choose between a career or motherhood in Germany. As soon as a woman tells an employer that she is pregnant, she cannot be fired, and she may even take up to three years of unpaid leave to focus on her family, should she wish.
Mums support mums in Japan
New mothers in Japan often go to stay with their own mothers after giving birth, where in cultural tradition they spend 21 days in bed with their babies.
Extended maternity leave for mums in Bulgaria
All new mothers can take up to 410 days – over 13 months – of maternity leave in Bulgaria, and are entitled to 90 percent of their salary before and after the birth of their child.
Which of these would you most like to see introduced in the UK?