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In countries throughout the world, tradition dictates that women should rest for 40 days after giving birth. Whether it's India, Russia, Japan, or Europe, many cultures traditionally confine women to their homes and send family members and other experienced women to take care of the mother.

Amazingly, 40 days is also the average length of postpartum bleeding (lochia). Is "mothering the mother" a good idea, or can you ignore tradition and be as active as ever in the days after giving birth? There is no doubt that giving birth takes its toll on a woman. I found this out myself when my husband and I went out shopping for baby clothes a day after our son was born, because he turned out to be much smaller than we had expected.

I felt like my intestines would fall out of my rectum! It wasn't so bad when we went out for dinner a few hours after I gave birth to my daughter, my first baby (I gave birth at home, in case you're wondering what made it possible to go out so soon. I was hungry, and didn't feel like cooking!). The practice of "mothering the mother" is one that is warm, fuzzy, and handy to many. There are sound reasons to stay in bed and rest after birth. Your body needs time to heal, and you and your new baby need to bond with each other. Whether you need to stay in bed, or in your house, for 24 hours a day for longer periods of time is highly debatable though.

How active should you be in the days after giving birth? The ideal answer is as active as your body signals you you can be, and as active as you want to be. Now is not the time to throw a dinner party or run a marathon. There is no reason you should not go for a walk around your neighborhood if you feel up to it and want to, though. Take a step back if you are sore and too tired, and enjoy being an active mom when you can do it!

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