The Forty Days Postpartum Care & Celebrations “Afartan bax”

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I want to share a little piece of my culture that most of you might not be familiar with. “The forty days postpartum care and celebrations” is one of my favourite aspects of my culture as a mother. As some of you already know from the “About Me” page I’m Somali and a first time mummy to a little boy. After the birth of my child I was shocked by how the Somali culture accommodates new mothers in the first few weeks after delivery. The first forty days postpartum most new mothers spend it at their mother’s house with their newborn. If it isn’t possible for the new mother to relocate, her mother or sister moves in with her for those forty days.

These forty days the new mother doesn’t do any chores around the house; she spends her days resting in bed while bonding with her newborn and establishing breastfeeding. Warm traditional porridge (Mishaari), special tea with milk and soups are served to the new mum to increase her milk supply and to help her with healing.
I was lucky enough to have my mother close by after I had my son and she helped me care of the baby and also recover from childbirth. I also had my husband staying with us so you can say I had the best of both worlds, spending time with my small family while being cared for by my mother.

The first forty days my mother showed me everything I needed to survive motherhood from caring to my newborn’s umbilical cord before it fell to breastfeeding my son. Breastfeeding was torture for me the first few days, which demotivated me, my mother had to literally bring my son to me and tell me to breastfeed him because she knew I was in pain and needed that extra motivation.

My mother even helped me bathe my son and change him. She accompanied me to all those early doctor’s appointments, which makes me extremely grateful that I had her support during those first weeks. During my forty days postpartum I also got to rest for a few hours a day while my mother, sister and husband took care of my baby. I had a difficult birth and healing took longer than anticipated however, as you all know the exhaustion that comes with being a new parent. Those few hours of rest and sleep were crucial for my sanity because I don’t deal well with stress.

Back in Somalia the new mothers and their newborns don’t leave the house until after the big 40 days celebration, which is called “ Afartan bax”. However because times has changed mothers and their babies in the west need to run errands outside the home including doctor’s visits. I didn’t stay at home for the whole forty days period and sometimes took my baby with me.

After completing the forty days there is a celebration held almost like a birthday because according to tradition that marks the first day the baby leaves the house and sees the outside world. A male figure is selected to carry the baby on his shoulders as a way for the parents to wish that their baby would take that person’s good character.

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We held my son’s Afartan bax celebration at a family friend’s house. It was a BBQ lunch for our family and friends then later a ladies celebration with traditional music and dancing followed by dinner. It was extremely thoughtful of our family friend to throw us this celebration in their house.

I would love to know where all my readers are from? Is there a special aspect in your culture that is specific to mothers and their children? I always find cultures and traditions to be fascinating.

Thanks for stopping
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DomesticatedMomster
Diary of an imperfect mum
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42 thoughts on “The Forty Days Postpartum Care & Celebrations “Afartan bax”

  1. ljdove23 says:

    I am so completely jealous that we don’t have this celebration!! Forty days off from the housework? I can only dream of that! How lovely that your Mum was able to come and help you at that time, I imagine it was a lovely bonding time for all of you. #stayclassymama

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonia says:

    Really interesting – love learning about different cultures. Many have much more supportive traditions than we do here in the uk. I’m lucky to have family around me too but I think this is a lovely tradition that I’m sure you were grateful to continue! Thanks for sharing xx #momsterslink

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Hi Sonia, I know what you mean a lot of Somalis living in the west don’t follow this tradition now because it is might be impractical for new mummies to stay indoors for the 40 whole days; but nevertheless this is definitely an aspect of my culture that I really appreciate.
      Thanks for commenting and visiting my blog xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gemma@CotswoldMumsBlog says:

    What an absolutely lovely tradition you have. I will confess to being a tiny bit jealous, I wish I could have spent my first 40 days on getting the bonding and newborn basics right without worrying about the housework and when your 40 days was up, I love the thought of the celebration you had. Thank you for sharing #Brillblogposts

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons says:

    What a lovely tradition to have! Those first few weeks of motherhood are such a tough time and to have that extra support on hand from your mother is amazing. Not to mention not having to worry about running the house as well! I love the tradition of choosing someone that you’d like your child to take after as well – what a lovely way to honour a friend or relative. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Hi Katy, it’s such a nice tradition and I’m glad that my mom continued it even though we were in Australia (far away from Somalia) and she was working at the time as well.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment, it means a lot to me.

      Like

  5. littleowlgiftbaskets says:

    What a fantastic tradition! I’m 20 days postpartum and wish I could have a break from the housework! Although I think I’d go crazy having 40 days stuck in the house #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shushu says:

    Mashaallah it’s beautiful to follow our beautiful culture. I just had my second baby. I really appreciate that my mommy still follows our beautiful culture sweetly. I had my afartan baax twice thank God for our beautiful families and friends taking care of us in this 40 postpartum. Alhamdulillah may Allah protect them.
    😘❤️❤️❤️😍🇸🇴🇸🇴🇸🇴🇸🇴

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Masha’Allah sis, congratulations on your second baby. You’re so lucky to be able to celebrate it with both of your children. Our culture is truly beautiful when we learn it, the more I find out about it the more I fall in love with it.
      May Allah protect your family and loved ones. Thank you so much for reading my post and commenting 🙂

      Like

  7. Ayan Abdulle says:

    Masha-Allah such an amazing tradition we have. I am so glad you had your family and friends there to help you with everything. As for my afartaan bax my husban did everything for me, he cooked, and took care of our three other kids alxamdulilAllah he also took our new born to his check up’s i didnt get out of the house for 40 days alxamdulilAllah i am so blessed to him wallahi.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Wow Masha’Allah sweetheart, your husband did a great job mine can’t cook to save his life, hahaha but he always helps me with the other things. You’re truly blessed that you were able to enjoy those 40 days and follow this incredible tradition.It is really important to have support when you give birth. May Allah bless you and your family. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting

      Like

  8. Zia Subhan says:

    MashaAllah, I always love your blog post. I’m so exited to learn about other cultures. It’s such an amazing tradition. I’m lucky to know you, building friendship by the blogsphere is something priceless for me.

    May Allah Allah bless you and your family as well.

    :*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Hi Sarah, I know what you mean most people don’t have the luxury of time to just stay at home with the baby and be catered for with this busy lives we all lead.
      Thank you so much for reading my post and commenting. It means a lot to me.

      Like

  9. Emma says:

    what a fab write up and snippet into a culture and way of life that I literally know nothing about. 40 days to bond and just be with your baby – sounds fantastic. I felt like there was too much pressure to be up and about and getting on with things straight away. I felt that if I was sitting around with my son, I was being lazy or not using my time well. I put way too much pressure on myself. if I had another, I think ill be taking 40 days too! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kim says:

    Such a great tradition and I think it makes total sense in allowing mother and baby to acclimate, bond, and heal. I was fortunate to have my Mom help with both my babies and I don’t know what I would’ve done without her. I didn’t quite have her for the first 40 days though but I would have loved to! Thanks for sharing this wonderful part of your culture and congratulations on the little one! #kcacols

    Like

  11. charlotte says:

    What a lovely tradition. Especially when its your first baby it can be a relief to have your own mum close by. I lived at home when I had my first, we were there until my baby was 6months. With plenty of ha D’s gohelp out #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  12. oddhogg says:

    Oh how I wish this was a tradition here too! My mum lives close by, but she was travelling with my dad until Piglet was 9 weeks old. I struggled to establish breastfeeding (eventually succeeding at 8 weeks old) and I wished my mum was there to help me. She tried over the phone but it’s not the same as having her here. You are so lucky! #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Sorry to hear about your situation, breastfeeding can be really hard. I had a lot of support but still never managed to successful exclusively breastfeed my son ( he was mixed fed from the first week). Thanks for stopping by 😊

      Like

  13. DomesticatedMomster says:

    I live in the US and had 3 c-sections in 3 years by a doctor who was in the military and worked as a doctor in the military so his motto is get up and get going. Needless to say I only spent 1 to 2 nights in the hospital and then I was at home back to usual. My mother and husband were there for the first week but after that hubby had to return to work and my mother went home and there was no 6 weeks healing time for me. Your new addition is beautiful and congratulations. Thank you for sharing with #momsterslink. And hope to see you again this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Hi Trista, look at the bright side at least you had help from your mother and husband that first week after your deliveries. Thank you so much for commenting on my post and sharing your experience with me. Thanks for hosting #Momsterslink, I hope I will be regularly linking up.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. jacqwolo says:

    Wow what a great tradition. We have had family here almost every day even if it’s for a couple hours so we can take a nap or just relax. My mom is in town now for the week and I can already tell how helpful it is. 40 days would be amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samsam - Simply A Mama says:

      Isn’t wonderful having your mom close by! Even after we have our own families we still love to have our mothers support. You’re lucky to have family members visiting you so you can catch up with on some sleep because we all know how sleep deprived new parents become.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment.

      Like

  15. newindiemom says:

    I majored in Anthropology and have always loved learning about different cultures, we didn’t learn about everything obviously so this is really wonderful to read and so interesting and I’m so friggin jealous because I can barely have 40 days off for maternity leave!

    Liked by 1 person

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