This new mama talks about her Golden Month experience
Jenny Allison wrote Golden Month: Caring for the World's Mothers After Childbirth. Her daughter Francesca Coulibaly gave birth in June 2020. Here’s her personal account of her own Golden Month.
Fran, congratulations on the arrival of your little girl, Florence. What made you decide to have a golden month after her birth?
The importance of taking care of mothers after birth is something that had been drilled into me for quite some time. I had almost come to think of it as my right. But to be honest, I was just really excited to have six weeks of no cooking or cleaning!
Did you set any specific ground rules from the outset?
I knew that some people followed quite a strict regime of what they can eat week by week, and are quite literally confined to the home. That didn’t really feel like me so even though I hardly left home, if I felt like I needed fresh air and a walk then I would take that, and if there was a particular food I was craving then I would request it. We also tried to keep visitors to close family at the beginning. It was a loose version of the traditional golden month.
Who was involved in your golden month?
Of course my mother and my partner, Hennik, who were completely amazing. Also my aunts, cousin and some close friends. My dad would often drop by under the pretence of helping but I think he was just creating excuses to see the baby.
How did the ingredients of care that your mum wrote about in her book unfold for you?
It felt like they unfolded quite naturally. Whenever I needed a rest or a break someone was on hand to look after Florence. I didn’t particularly want any massage (crazy, I know) so instead I had acupuncture and moxibustion to help my circulation and healing and create to warmth.
We had hot meals dropped off to us every evening, and during the day Hennik would put together breakfast and lunch. Mum also made sure we had a constant stash of bone broth in case I ever needed it between meals. I quite literally did not cook for over six weeks. Even though I usually love cooking, it was an absolute godsend not having to worry about the next meal. It also helped that my mum and aunts are particularly good cooks so I always knew that whatever we got would be delicious.
These things, and just knowing that if I ever wanted for anything someone would be there to help or deliver, made me feel so supported throughout the whole six weeks.
What was your personal experience of the golden month?
It was bliss! I had been a little worried about family being in my face all the time but everyone was very respectful and gave us plenty of space when we needed it. The only thing that I had to do was bond with my baby. Having had depression in the past I was anxious about it cropping up again in the postpartum period but I honestly feel that having the support that I did kept it away. Aside from those daily hormonal tears that I could set my clock by, it was a very calm and peaceful introduction to motherhood.
Would you recommend other Kiwi mums to look into it?
One hundred percent yes, even if you only pick and choose the parts that suit you best. Rally your friends and family together and let them know how they can best help you to achieve your ideal golden month.
Jenny Allison is an acupuncturist who has spent the last 25 years studying, teaching and working with women using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. She lives in Auckland.
Golden Month: Caring for the World's Mothers After Childbirth by Jenny Allison, Beatnik Publishing, RRP$30, beatnikbooks.co.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 52 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW