Most traditional, indigenous cultures are taught that as communities we have the responsibility to care for new mamas and in effect also care for their entire families. These cultures innately understand the vulnerability of a new mama, and how essential it is for her to be cared for and nurtured to recover from pregnancy and birth.
While there are unique and individual ceremonies in each culture, many similarities can be drawn when looking at traditional postpartum practices around the world.
Many postpartum traditions include periods of confinement (some say a moon-cycle, others 40 days), food and drinks that replenish and nourish both mother and baby, and some type of bodywork to help a mother heal and regain strength.
One such example of bodywork for a new mama is Cerrada de Caderas, or the Closing of the Bones ceremony. After childbirth, our physical body is changed—hips and feet widen, organs displace, breasts swell—and our psyche is altered, both mentally and emotionally, by the rite of passage to conceive, carry and birth our child.
The Closing of the Bones ceremony acknowledge the immense changes a woman has undergone in pregnancy and childbirth and assists in bringing her spirit back into her own body. Physically, it guides bones back into place, helps the uterus shrink back down, and stimulates blood flow. Emotionally, it provides a sense of calm and grounding, and reestablishes a sense of self.
Closing of the Bones is still widely practiced in Latin American and Asian countries, and is typically performed multiple times within the first 40 days after birth.
The ceremony begins with an herbal bath and nurturing massage. The woman is then kept warm and brought to her bed where she is wrapped gently by a long cloth at the calves, thighs, torso, shoulders, and cranium. The amount of time this process takes varies depending on the individual. Once complete, the mother is left to lie quietly and integrate the treatment.
The Closing of the Bones is a practice that can be beneficial for any postpartum mama – whether you had your baby yesterday or 30 years ago – who is looking to find more peace within. It is truly a powerful healing tool that I hope many more mamas begin seeking out to assist in their healing journey after giving birth.