Camila Alves Dishes On Her '40-Day Break' Rule

02/01/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Debbie VanStory/iPhoto

While some of her peers have made waves returning to pre-baby form in record time, Camila Alves says she’s happy to be the exception to the trend. In Brazil, the Shear Genius host tells Style List, there is a tradition of allowing for downtime after giving birth.

“We call [it the] 40-day break after the baby,” Camila — who welcomed daughter Vida on Jan. 3 — explains. “You have to let your body do its own thing; You give it time to recover and let everything settle down.”

In so doing, women are able to “respect all the hard work” their bodies have done, she notes.

“For these 40 days you really take it easy. By that I mean no sex, light, healthy food, no trips to the gym. Then, after 40 days, you are good to go.”

However, Camila — who stepped out for her 27th birthday last week — goes on to confess that she’s “getting a little anxious to work out.”

“I miss it. Not just to get my body back in shape, but for me, for my head!”

In her new job, hair will take center stage and Camila says that her own locks are in a state of flux with Vida’s arrival. Like many women, Camila says she’s experienced some hair loss since becoming a mom.

“The texture has definitely changed,” she concedes. “I am lucky it is thick because I am losing it more too. It is spooky isn’t it?”

In addition to Vida, Camila is mom to 18-month-old Levi with partner Matthew McConaughey. Season three of Shear Genius premieres Wednesday night on Bravo.

Source: Style List

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Showing 44 comments

Tess on

Isn’t it standard to wait 6 weeks to have sex after having a baby? I assume doctors tell everyone that.

Moore on

40 days is pretty standard just about everywhere, Camila.

Louise on

Not really just a Brazillian thing. Besides, after having a baby, with the sleep deprivation, stitches, sore breasts etc I can’t imagine wanting anything less than a 40 day break!

Mrs. R. on

I thought the same thing as the other posters: As far as I know, it’s standard doctor’s orders to lay off exercise, sex, and get as much rest as possible for the first 6 weeks (42 days).

mrsh on

Agree with everyone, 6-weeks is the standard that all doctors will tell you. I certainly wouldn’t have WANTED to have sex sooner. What with the leaky of fluids, stitches, engorged breasts and raw nipples… no thanks!

Sonya on

6 weeks is universally what doctors say, since then you go for your check up and get the all clear to resume all normal activities including sex. I think it’s 8 weeks for C-sections.
I would think she’d know that considering she gave birth in America and has American and not Brazilian doctors. Did they tell her something different?

Emily on

Wasn’t she just referring to the comparisons made in regard to other celebrity mothers who are commented on for getting back into shape straight away? Maybe she prefers to go by the Brazilia traditions because it’s home for her? I’m English and in the US for the year and I tend to comment more about English ways than American ones because it’s home.

JustMe on

Yep, Emily, you’re right. And she’s just speaking from the perspective of a Brazilian living in the US who might not be acquainted with every custom in this country.

Heather on

Why is this sucha news story. Isn’t it pretty standard no matter your nationality to take time off after having a baby. Why does the sotry make it seem like she is making such a sacrafice?

J-Lin on

Emily – I was thinking the same thing. Even though a lot of celebrity moms credit breastfeeding or good genes, many are working with a personal trainer the moment they can walk.

India on

40 days is standard? six weeks? everyone is different but with both my boys we waited three weeks at the longest which i thought was standard!

Sonya on

India you’re lucky. I had stitches after my episiotomies and there was no way I was having sex after 3 weeks. Not to mention bleeding, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and general exhaustion.

cris on

My understanding of her statement was not JUST pertaining to sex and/or exercise, but an overall rest of the body (both physically and dietary) for 40 days…

acmommy on

I’m sorry but she just said, “we call it the 40 day break.” She didnt say they invented the idea of taking a rest after child birth. She’s just saying that’s what they refer to it as.

She also seemed to put an additional spin on it as a period of reflection, and treat your body as a temple kind of idea rather that to just say we don’t exercise or have sex for 6 weeks. Jeez people. Is everyone just waiting to pounce?

Des on

No way would I wait 40 days. LOL I waited 7 days. I had a home birth though and healed super fast.
I never really got super exhausted with either of my kids though too.

tobeornottobe on

Wow! Waiting just to pounce is just what I was thinking. She is giving her opinion on what she does and what she sees other women in her country do. People, she’s not saying that she nor Brazil came up with with this plan.

topsi on

7 days!!!!! Yikes!!!!!!!

Angela on

OMG,7 days? If my husband even looked my way,there would’ve been a misunderstanding.LOL

Lily on

No offense Des, seriously, but your statement is why I appreciate so much what Camilla said.

I agree it’s standard to wait to return to normal activities after giving birth, but I know a lot of women personally (like my sister) and have read about women (on this blog for example) who sort of brag a little bit about how fast they got back to doing everything normally.

I had an emergency C-section after I had planned an all-natural water birth, and it hurt a little to have my father-in-law telling me about how his wife had five children just slide right out of her and was up and cooking and cleaning two hours after each birth. Stuff like that can just make women feel bad. It’s just not helpful. That’s why I appreciate Camilla’s comments. It IS OK to take a break. Good for you if you don’t need to breathe a little after childbirth, but you’re not a better person or mom for it.

Liliana on

acmommy, I couldn’t agree more. People are really stretching these days to find something wrong in each post.

steph on

my god ladies!!!!!!!!! Did none of you stop and consider that she was promoting taking time off from expectations in regards to body issues??? The first thing ( and the most frequent topic with new mums) that gets asked is the whole ‘how did you get your body back?’
I read that article and thought how different her opinion is in the grand scheme of hollywood and general superficial society. Everyone complains about celebs always being asked how they lost the weight, so I commend Camila for promoting a stress free attitude.

ritter on

a lot of times midwives will tell you as soon as you’re ready it’s up to you, while doctors will tell you to wait 6 weeks. 5 weeks or so felt normal to me, I waited until I stopped bleeding. My births were very standard though

Luciana on

I’m a brazilian mom living in the US, so perhaps I understood what she said a little differently than most: when she says “we call it the 40-day rule” is because there is a specific word in Portuguese for the postpartum period – “quarentena” (derived from the word “quarenta”, which means fourty).

A “quarentena” is not just abstaining from sex and physical activities – it’s about eating healthy, light foods such as soups, it’s about not doing much housework, it’s about resting and saving your energy for the baby. My grandma was ALL about me taking it easy during my “quarentena”… nowadays women not always take this too seriously, but maybe her family is more old fashioned!

Des on

LOL Lily. I still dont cook and clean and my youngest is 4. LOL! I dont have it all together by any means but if you FEEL like you WANT to have sex and you FEEL good, go for it.

Reader on

my response above was meant in reply to Des, by the way. 7 days isn’t typical, but if it works for you that’s great.

Angela on

Sonya, it’s usually six weeks for c-sections too.

mrsh on

Luciana – that makes a lot more sense now that you’ve explained it! I think it’s a nice practice. All new moms should be allowed to just take it easy after giving birth. I don’t think it’s right to expect a new mother to have a spotless house, dinner on the table and flat abs within those first few weeks. In fact, I still don’t cook or clean and my daughter is 10-months old ;-)

Sonya on

Thanks Angela, I don’t know many people who had C-sections, and those I know had complicated births (thus needing sections), so wasn’t sure what the general time was.

Lily on

Hey Des, I hope I didn’t come across as bitter! It was just nice for me to hear another take on things. It’s awesome that you were able to get up and go! Sex or cooking or cleaning or whatever!!

christina on

Let’s give her a break…sounds like a sensible approach to overall postpartum issues/time!

tobeornottobe on

Quarentena is what it’s called in Mexico also. My mom takes this very seriously and came and stayed with us for the whole quarentena. We really appreciated it because as first time parents she guided us through all our firsts and my husband loved the meals:)

Lorus on

A friend of mine ended up with an infection in her uterus because she had sex less than a week after giving birth. She ended up passing a lot of pus and goo. Yuck! I’ll stick to 6 weeks thank you very much!

On a side note I think her “40 days” is more than sex. I’ve read a lot about women having a “baby moon” which means they pretty much hang out at home with the baby. Just enjoying it, resting, doing pretty much nothing other than healing and getting to know the little one.

Olia on

acmommy good point! She just says how they call it and what they belive in Brazil is the best to do during that period. I am not brazilian but I have impression that the culture of the country is baised on “previous generation wiseness”. Motheres say to daugthers what is good and they follow advices. I guess that’s one of the reasons why she didnt go to the gym three days after the baby was born.
Somehow it makes me feel sad because she gave one very clear and simple comment and it is missunderstood or toned wrong on most of blogs.

By the way I just saw her pictures from yestarday! This 40-days-break definetly is good for her! She looked gorgous!

emmajlh on

if i was dating Matthew McConaughey i’m not sure i could wait 40 days LOL

Diana on

Yes 6 weeks is standard; but Camila is probably looking at Hollywood and with that as your example there is no way a lot of them wait the 6 weeks they are supposed to!!! So I think this article IS actually important because she is promoting what time you should give your body to rest.

I’m sorry 7 days!! OMG you are insane and I’m sure your doctor didn’t clear you for that so I wouldn’t be bragging! Weren’t you still bleeding!???

Hea on

“I’m sorry 7 days!! OMG you are insane and I’m sure your doctor didn’t clear you for that so I wouldn’t be bragging! Weren’t you still bleeding!???”

What a mean thing to say! If you use a rubber and want to have sex it’s a-OK!

Diana on

Hea – Uh no pretty sure doctor’s don’t recommend it. So I wouldn’t say it is A-OK. Why is that mean????

CelebBabyLover on

Diana- It was the way you said it. If you had just said something like, “7 days?! I’m pretty sure doctors don’t recommend having sex that soon,” that would have been fine. IMO, the way you worded it, it came out as sounding very judgemental, as well as very hurtful (I mean, would YOU like it if someone called YOU insane?).

Diana on

CelebBabyLover – You are right I probably was a bit harsh. To be honest I just more had to wince because I couldn’t imagine having sex when I had just had my son 7 days before. I guess when someone says something like 7 days like that it doesn’t seem realistic and is said like bragging. And I guess with the added comment of a home birth made it seem like well I was able to do it sooner because I had a home birth. That came off somewhat as well if you had home birth than you would be able to have sex after 7 days as well.

SB on

You know Diana, some people don’t mind sex while they bleed. :P

I waited 2 weeks after I had my daughter.

Hea on

Diana – A bit harsh? I thought you sounded very harsh. You called her insane. Doctors do not RECOMMEND it because, well, why would they ever recommend sex unless you wish for a pregnancy? But I have never heard of a doctor saying you can’t have sex while bleeding after giving birth as long as you use a condom and your own free will. All I’ve ever heard are doctors encouraging to try and have sex when you want to have sex but without pressure to follow through.

Diana on

Hea – Alright now you are nitpicking. My doctor said to wait 6 weeks to have sex; As far as I have always heard that is what most doctors say. So yes some doctors do tell you to not have sex for 6 weeks after you have a baby; it seems like other comments on here have said their doctors have said the same thing. It has nothing to do with them not recommending it unless you want to get pregnant. My doctor prescribed me birth Control at my 6 week checkup along with clearing me to have sex making sure I was healing correctly to have sex. My doctor was telling me it was okay to have sex, BUT she was not telling me it was okay to get pregnant so no her not recommending I have sex until after 6 weeks had nothing to do with her telling me to wait until get pregnant because she didn’t recommend I get pregnant again for at least 6 months. Did I mean insane literally?? NO! So give me a break already.

Hea on

I’m just responding to what you’ve written, Diane. I had no way of telling if you were serious or not and I interpreted you as at least somewhat serious. And no, I am not “nitpicking”. If it comes off that way – I’m sorry. English is not my mother tongue and sometimes I suppose I translate my native language and our way of presenting things a bit too directly into English.

If you do not have stitches and tears it is OK to have sex if you want to but with a condom to prevent infections. That is what I’ve been taught. If your doctor said otherwise he or she probably did it for a good reason.

Sandy on

Plenty of women give birth without stitches. Also, I don’t need permission from a doctor to resume “relations” with my husband. My midwife said that once bleeding stops (usually long before 6 weeks) and you feel up to it, resuming sex is perfectly fine.

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