Embracing Postpartum Rest: Yah’s Design for Mothers

Embracing Postpartum Rest: Yah’s Design for Mothers

June

Contributed by June

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Separation Period
  2. Baby Boys: Circumcision and Purification
  3. Baby Girls: Extended Period of Purification
  4. Understanding the Impurity and Atonement
  5. Practical Preparation Steps for Mothers
  6. The Husband’s Focus and Support Role
  7. Addressing Postpartum Depression
  8. Natural & Homebirths vs. Hospital Births
  9. Free Resources for Expecting Mothers

Understanding the Separation Period

In the Bible, mothers are guided to observe a sacred separation period after giving birth, allowing time for rest, healing, and spiritual rejuvenation. Discover how you can integrate this divine wisdom into your postpartum care, benefiting from Yahuah’s perfect design for a holistic recovery. Explore practical steps to nourish your body and soul during this special season of pregnancy, birth, and the separation period.

What Torah Says

Let’s first look at what Torah, Yah’s Word, says about the separation period in postpartum.

Leviticus 12:1-5 says:

  1. And Yahuah spoke to Mosheh, saying,
  2. “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘When a woman has conceived and has given birth to a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her monthly separation she is unclean.
  3. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin is circumcised.
  4. And she remains in the blood of her cleansing thirty-three days. She does not touch whatever is set-apart, and she does not come into the set-apart place until the days of her cleansing are completed.
  5. But if she gives birth to a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her monthly separation, and she remains in the blood of her cleansing for sixty-six days.’”

Sister Keturah, a mother of 6 in the Set Apart Walk, who has experienced both hospital births and home births, emphasizes the importance of seeking Yahuah’s guidance for the separation period.

She advises,

“Start seeking Yahuah now on what that time of separation would look like for you, given that every household is different. Everyone has different children with different needs.”

One thing that will differ from home to home is the length of the separation period. This varies depending on if you have a boy or girl. Circumcision is also something to be mindful about in advance if you give birth to a boy. Let’s take a closer look now into birthing boys and then girls.

Boys: Circumcision and Purification

For boys, circumcision is performed on the eighth day (Leviticus 12:3). This is something a couple should discuss and pray about in advance. Hospitals often circumcise soon after birth, aided by a vitamin K shot, but naturally occurring vitamin K peaks in a baby on the eighth day, aligning perfectly with Yahuah’s instructions.

What is Vitamin K? 

Vitamin K is a nutrient that helps blood clot. When babies are born, they don’t have much Vitamin K in their bodies, which means their blood doesn’t clot very well. Normally, hospitals give babies a shot of Vitamin K right after they are born to help with this. Interestingly, on the eighth day, a baby’s body naturally has more Vitamin K, which is the exact day Scripture says this procedure should be done. The eighth day is the perfect time for circumcism, which may involve some bleeding and a few seconds of discomfort for the male baby, but it is not long-lasting.

Sister BritYah had a homebirth in July of 2022, and during an interview she had about her homebirth experience, she had this to say about Vitamin K,

“We [had our son circumcised] through a mohel, which is a trained professional in that field. The hospital offers a vitamin K shot immediately to the baby, but on the eighth day, the child naturally develops vitamin K, which helps with coagulation when the circumcision is performed.”

The mother is ritually “unclean” for seven days (Leviticus 12:2), and her purification period is complete on the 40th day. This time mirrors the discharge of blood during her menstrual period, making her temporarily impure and capable of transferring impurity to others. It commemorates the creation of Adam at the end of the first week of Yahuah’s work.

Sister Abby, another mother in the Set Apart Walk, who had a homebirth, shared,

“We had a hard time finding someone to perform the circumcision on the eighth day without the vitamin K shot. It’s important to find someone who respects these biblical principles​.”.

Girls: Extended Period of Purification

For girls, the mother is ritually unclean for 14 days, and her purification period is completed on the 80th day. Like with boys, the initial time is akin to her menstrual period’s discharge of blood, causing impurity that she can transfer to others. Some scholars assert that this extended time may be due to assumptions about postpartum physiology and possible discharge of uterine blood in baby girls, regulated by Leviticus 15:25. Others point out that the Book of Jubilees states that Adam and Eve were created during the first and second weeks respectively. Specifically, Adam entered the Garden of Eden after 40 days, while Eve entered after 80 days (Jubilees 3:8-10). Some scholars assert that this period signifies the completion of their purification before entering the sacred space, and the extended period for Eve has been linked to the postpartum purification period outlined in Leviticus for mothers who give birth to daughters.

Another mother shared,

“The extended time for a girl allowed me to fully rest and heal. I found it incredibly rejuvenating, and it gave me a deeper connection with Yahuah during those 80 days. It was a special time to bond with my baby and focus on my spiritual well-being​.”

Understanding the Impurity and Atonement

It’s essential to note that the impurity does not come from the child but from the discharge of blood. This is similar to the woman’s monthly cycle or “period” when she is also unclean:

Leviticus 15:19-20 says: 

“And when a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her flesh is blood, she shall be in her separation for seven days. And whoever touches her is unclean until evening. And whatever she lies on during her separation is unclean. And whatever she sits on is unclean.”

After her time of impurity from childbirth, the mother must make atonement, which is the same for both genders:

“When the days of her cleansing for a son or for a daughter are completed, she brings to the priest a lamb a year old as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the Tent of Appointment. And he shall bring it before Yahuah, and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the Torah for her who has given birth to a male or a female” (Leviticus 12:6-7).

The requirement of the same sacrifice for atonement for both boys and girls highlights that the child’s gender does not cause the impurity. This underscores the importance of valuing both genders equally.

Brother Rod, an elder with the Assembly of Yahuah, further emphasizes that the sin offering does not imply that the childbirth itself is sinful. Instead, it addresses the impurity associated with the natural process of childbirth.

He explains,

“The burnt offering and sin offering serve to restore the woman’s ritual purity, enabling her to participate with the community again. This is not because childbirth is sinful, but because it acknowledges the need for cleansing and reconciliation to Yahuah after the period of impurity​​.”

Practical Steps for Mothers

Women should begin preparing for the separation period well before the birth of their baby. 

  1. Seek Yahuah’s Guidance: Begin by seeking Yahuah’s direction on how to personalize the separation period for your unique situation.
  2. Understand the Scriptural Basis: Familiarize yourself with Leviticus 12:1-5, understanding the importance and duration for boys and girls.
  3. Create a Support System: Ensure you have a support system in place, including family, friends, and community members who can assist during your separation period.
  4. Plan for Rest and Healing: Arrange your living space to promote rest and healing, making it a serene and comfortable environment.
  5. Gather Supplies: Stock up on nourishing foods, vitamins, and other essentials to support your physical health.
  6. Prepare Spiritually: Engage in prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices to strengthen your connection with Yahuah.

The Husband’s Focus & Support Role

The New Testament provides additional guidance for couples during this time. In particular, one scripture speaks of a separation time.

1 Corinthians 7:5 says:

“Do not deprive one another except with agreement for a time, to give yourselves to fasting and prayer. And come together again so that Satan does not try you because of your lack of self-control.”

During the separation period, husbands can play a crucial role in supporting their wives:

  1. Be Supportive: Understand the importance of the separation period and provide emotional and physical support.
  2. Assist with Household Duties: Take on more responsibilities around the house to ensure your wife can rest and heal.
  3. Pray Together: Engage in prayer and spiritual practices together, strengthening your bond and connection with Yahuah.
  4. Prepare for Fatherhood: Use this time to prepare for your new role as a father, educating yourself and participating in baby care.

Adam was very vocal about the importance of support when interviewed about his homebirth experience.

Adam shared, 

“Both of the births [of our daughters] were by far the most physically and spiritually profound things I’ve ever witnessed in life. To be able to play a central role as the father in that process, in a space that has been completely dedicated for your family, feels so correct and profoundly beneficial​.”

Understanding the role of a supportive husband can make a significant difference. 

Adam further reflected,

“Understanding the role for me seemed much more appropriate to just make sure I was there to support that process. That made things a lot smoother and easier because there’s definitely going to come a time where physically, you’re going to be much more needed.”​

On this topic, Brother Rod adds,

“The separation period is essential for both physical and spiritual healing. It’s a time to bond with the baby and ensure the mother gets the rest she needs. Husbands should take this time to step up and provide the necessary support”​​.

Addressing Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, affecting both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. It typically begins between one week and one month following childbirth.

One mother, Francia, who experienced this shared this:

“I found myself getting overwhelmed and anxious right after birth, and I believe this is why many people go into postpartum depression. Yahuah made this time for us to be with Him so that He could fill us. When we are distracted and filled with other things, we don’t get the healing we need spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally​.”

Sister Abby provided insights on how to prevent postpartum depression, emphasizing the importance of nutrition and self-care during the postpartum period.

“I made sure to eat well and keep myself hydrated,” Abby recalls. “Having a balanced diet and staying nourished helped me avoid the baby blues and stay energized during the postpartum period.”

Sister BritYah, who experienced postpartum depression as well, shared her journey and how the separation period can help. She shared,

“I didn’t always take the time to rest and connect with Yahuah after my first birth, and I found myself struggling with postpartum depression. It was a tough time, but I learned the importance of taking that time to be still before Yahuah and let Him fill me up”​​.

Sister BritYah goes on to say that it was a combination of prayer, support from her husband, and learning to listen to her body that helped her to overcome her postpartum depression.  She notes that she had to make a conscious effort to prioritize rest and spiritual connection.

Natural & Homebirths vs Hospital Births

A  documentary called, “Aftershock” debuted in 2022 and shares the stories of two families who became activists in the U.S. maternal health space following the preventable deaths of their loved ones due to childbirth complications. Aftershock premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Doc Competition and was awarded the Special Jury Award: Impact for Change. Aftershock was acquired by Sundance by Disney’s Onyx Collective and ABC News Studios and released on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ worldwide on July 19, 2022.

From the filmmakers:

“Through the film, we witness these two families become ardent activists in the maternal health space, seeking justice through legislation, medical accountability, community, and the power of art.” 

The official website of the “Aftershock” documentary states that the majority of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States are preventable and that advocates are fighting at the local, state, and federal levels to pass legislation that will holistically address the maternal health crisis in our country and end maternal mortality.

Here is the trailer:

As with most things, we must “chew the meat and spit the bones,” and this film is no different as there is some content in it that I would not personally endorse. However, that said, the film does a great job of highlighting what many families already knew was a reality: that melanated maternity rates are not only on the rapid rise, but they are grossly disproportionate to non-melanated maternity deaths.  According to recent data, non-Hispanic Black women are 2.6 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women. For Black women aged 25 and older, the pregnancy-related mortality rate is about four times higher than for white women of similar ages​ (Mayo Clinic Press)​​ (PRB)​.

If I can get personal for just a moment—

“This hits home for me because my very sweet & loving 33-year-old niece, who was an accomplished veterinarian with a bright future, had a preventable death at a hospital a few days after she gave birth to my great-nephew in August of 2023. Her loss is more painful knowing it was due to neglect. I’m left to wonder if the nursing staff ignored her worsening swelling because of the color of her skin. And now my sister must deal with the lost of her husband as well. It’s been a touch time for her especially.”

Allyson Felix, an Olympic Track & Field champion, who almost died in hospital giving birth, had this to say—

“I learned that my story was not uncommon. There were others like me, just like me—Black like me, healthy like me, doing their best, just like me. And they faced death just like me too.”

While there are still risks with homebirths, families who have opted for homebirths find the experience so rewarding and preferable that they would never consider a hospital birth as their first choice. I can personally relate to women who did not consider homebirth, because when I had my son in 2008, my mindset was fixed that a hospital is where babies are born. With the knowledge I have today, I’m a huge supporter of homebirths and am helping get this message out on the Yahudah Living platform.

Sharing Your Story & Hearing Other’s Story

 

If your family had a homebirth and you desire to be interviewed about your birthing experiences to benefit other families considering this option—or if you are simply a mother seeking more information about having a homebirth—check out the Home Birth Series on the Yahudah Living YouTube channel. This series features parents sharing their personal stories and testimonies about delivering a baby outside of conventional hospital walls, offering valuable insights and encouragement.

About her homebirth, Nell shared,

“We didn’t have hospitals, you know, back in biblical days. We were doing this thing from scratch with no medical help. I just had faith that I could do it, with a midwife and my husband.”​

During the postpartum period, it’s essential to have emotional and physical support from family and loved ones.

Nell adds,

“I remember a time where Adam and mom came into the room, and I was just kind of crying and saying, ‘I’m lonely, I just need company.’ They were like, ‘We were just trying to help give you space,’ because I was doing a lot of sleeping.”​​

Free Resources for Expecting Mothers

Here are some additional resources for expecting mothers that may be of interest. As the Ruach leads you, please “share” this article with the expecting mothers in your life!

Daily Reminders Flyer

Sister Elexus who has had three boys, prepared this “Daily Reminders” flyer for expecting mothers to aid them through their postpartum season. She suggests that women print it out and then frame or laminate it in a prominent place where they can regularly see it. Download it here.

Preparation Checklist

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Labor Scripture Meditation Music

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List of Doulas & Midwives

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Yahudah Living Homebirth Podcast Series

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FYI: The above Latin text is placeholder text. I’ll write the descriptions, upload the resources, and link to them soon so sisters can download them as PDFs. Thanks for your patience! I published this article now due to the many expectant women in my life, and one sister in particular with urgent questions about the separation period. The Resources section will be added later this week. Much love & shalom to all!

Editor’s Note: Many of the Quotes in this article are extracted from the Yahudah Living Homebirth interviews that Sister Marsha conducted. These interviews give parents the ability to share their experiences and insights about pregnancy, home birth, postpartum care, and the separation period—for knowledge-sharing purposes to educate and empower other families to make an informed decision about having a homebirth.

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