written by Satya Kaur – Co-founder Postnatal Support Network
At a time when Quarantine has become part of our day-to-day vocabulary, let us look into its spiritual meaning as it applies to female life cycles.
True, Quarantine is now being used to refer to 2 weeks of isolation of apparently healthy individuals in order to check whether they have the Covid-19 virus incubating or not. A mere statistical safety policy which serves its purpose.
Quarantine is an ancient wise practice of 40 days seclusion, though, which served other purposes too. Take Jesus, for example, he went into the desert for 40 days to find the nature of his real self, the Christ.
When used in relation to childbirth, postnatal Quarantine refers to the period of 40 days after the birth when mother and new born enter retreat in their home, or in the home of the mother´s mother. Yes, it is a time when the mother is mothered. She is served by a mother figure so that she, in turn, can become a good mother to her baby. The scriptures from all corners of the world tell of the significance of a minimum period of 30-40 days when a person can drop a habit and begin to acquire a new long-term healthier habit.
Incidentally, it would be interesting for us, who have entered a period of isolation, to consider which intention we set for ourselves in this period which may well last over 40 days!
Anyway, the Postnatal Support Network has collected and published lots of literature and information about the relevance and benefit of a postnatal quarantine and its many long-term benefits for the Mother in her role and the baby who is growing and rapidly forming.
I would like to focus here on the relevance of the observation of quarantine by women who go through other major life challenging and life changing experiences. I am thinking of a young friend of mine whom, after 7 months of chemotherapy, has undergone a double mastectomy for breast cancer.
Physically she is not only recovering from major surgery, anaesthetics, pain, trauma to the tissues, but also from her loss of identity. Energetically there is an emptiness, cold and shock in her system. Spiritually, she has lost a major part of her feminine body, with which her identity was associated. She is having to, therefore, reform her identity, in every sense of the word.
For this to happen she needs minimum interference and other stimuli from the outside world. Instead, she needs an environment that is neutral, safe, calm, steady, warm, nourishing, quiet, natural and reassuring. Otherwise, her sense of Self will either fail to reform, be delayed, or will adopt overprotective and defensive traits and the sense of victimhood is likely to prevail. In other words, she needs an environment, a space and a time where her Self gathers vitality and creativity and is unhindered by others’ influences.
The same needs will apply to women who undergo hysterectomy, surgical loss of the womb, which we all know is a major and hidden organ of female creative power.
In the table below I draw a parallel of these scenarios which some women encounter to postnatal recovery even though there are some major differences between the two types of experience.
Women in both situations experience a degree of physical and or emotional grief which society does not take into account. Such a state of real grief for the loss of Self requires sensitivity, time, nurturing in addition to practical support around the house.
|Childbirth||Surgical extraction of female organs|
|Natural & physiological||Artificial & invasive|
|Loss of fluids & baby||Loss of organ(s)|
|Gain of baby||Likely gain of health|
|Physical grief||Physical grief|
|Loss of innocence & freedom||Loss of integrity of|
|Loss of innocence & freedom||Loss of identity with body|
|Celebrated||Ignored or pitied|
|Loss of internal bloom and external attention on self||Loss of ability to procreate|
In conclusion, although 40 days of Postnatal Support need to be recognized as a requirement of every new mother and baby, there are increasingly other occasions in a woman´s life where the same investment of care would bear great fruits.
Women are utterly creative beings and if, at a time when they are low and empty, the world demonstrates to them that they are worthy and wanted they will multiply this message 10 fold and become great leaders and nurturers for they have learned humility and faith during an intimate and dark night of their Souls.
For Satpreet, great mother, warrior and postnatal supporter