What We Are Reading: “The First Forty Days” by Heng Ou

Looking for a book recommendation for postpartum support?


Try “The First Forty Days” by Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger, which applies ancient wisdom to modern postpartum recovery.


What to Expect:

Ou describes the book as “inspired by the global traditions of maternal care that have existed for millennia. It shares simple wisdom about the healing foods to eat, the teas and herbs to drink, and the small steps you can take to prepare for postpartum” (pg. 10-11).


What We Like About It:

The book helps readers dive into and understand the dietary and lifestyle recommendations of traditional chinese medicine and illustrates that there is a place for this wisdom in our modern culture. The writing style is easy to read and full of first-hand stories that humbly explore the postpartum period. The book covers a lot of ground and has great suggestions about stocking a postpartum pantry as well as recipes for snacks, broths, and meals -- with directions for preparing them ahead of time.

When to Read It:

The book supplies actionable items for three distinct phases below:

  1. The Gathering (third trimester)

  2. The Passage (labor and delivery)

  3. The Gateway (first 40 or so days following delivery)


It may be better to read the book before the third trimester to give the reader time to digest the information and decide which checklist items feel manageable and appropriate.


Looking for It Locally?

Portland Public Library has a copy, and I’ve seen it at Print: A Bookstore at 273 Congress Street in Portland.