Every country has traditions related to pregnancy, birth, and childcare—some things we are used to could seem alien to people in other cultures. And on the other hand, foreign traditions could seem strange to us.
Chinese postpartum care is one peculiar tradition that has been gaining more attention (especially in Asia and Latin America). You could be wondering what this is and how it works, so without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the Chinese tradition of postpartum care.
The Basic Ideas Behind the Chinese Tradition of Postpartum Care
You are probably excited to have your child when you become a mother. Many people will want to give you gifts as a new mom, but you will likely see your child as the greatest gift you could ever have. While all of this is important, the Chinese postpartum tradition also emphasizes the importance of the mother and her well-being rather than solely focusing on the newborn baby.
In Chinese, the tradition is called “坐月子” or “Zuo Yue Zi,” which roughly translates to “Sitting the Month.” This unique tradition is a process that starts immediately after birth and can last from 26 to 100 days. Essentially, its primary goal is to let the mother recover from giving birth, rest, and have a kind of reset.
Sometimes, the practice is referred to as traditional Chinese medicine postpartum care (TCM PPC) or Eastern Asian medicine postpartum care (EAM PPC). You can also hear people referring to “Sitting the Month” as the practice of Confinement.
Tradition Among The Elites
Historically, the practice was a tradition among the elites – queens, empresses, and wealthy women in China would have a period of recovery after giving birth. It was believed that this post-delivery period was when the mother could reset her health and get rid of her illnesses or allergies since childhood or the headaches or pains she was currently suffering from.
This is why the month right after a woman gives birth is called the “golden period,” when the mother’s body can be reset. Following the practices of Chinese postpartum care can help you become even more vital than before getting pregnant and giving birth.
How to Follow the Practices of Traditional Chinese Postpartum Care
The practices involved in “Sitting the Month” have evolved. Because they were initially performed only by the wealthiest women in China, they wouldn’t apply to someone who didn’t have the time and money necessary for the tradition. But now that it has become more popular among the modern people of Asia and Latin America, the practices have adapted to the current reality with scientifically-backed considerations for the mother’s health. Here’s how to follow traditional Chinese postpartum care:
Bathing Needs to Be Done in a Special Way
Traditionally, mothers weren’t allowed to get into contact with water because it was a potential carrier of different diseases. However, modern Confinement centers bathe mothers in warm water with ginger. This removes excessive yin from the mother’s body, but washing is now important, especially for women who underwent C-sections.
Daily Activities Need to Be Modified or Avoided
Another principle has been for the mother not to let wind enter her body, but using fans is now allowed during hot days as long as they are not aimed at the woman. Visitors are not allowed because they can bring infections. Warm and comfortable clothes are mandatory to avoid catching a cold. Mothers should sleep a lot, avoid exercising, stay indoors with windows closed, and get a lot of rest. You can’t read, go online, or use tech devices.
Taking Care of the Baby Is Important in Moderation
You shouldn’t worry about taking care of your baby. Instead, you must focus only on breastfeeding the baby, playing with them, and spending time with your child. Other people will provide all the other care so that you can rest.
Certain Foods Need to Be Prioritized Over Others
The interaction between yin and yang is very important for the Chinese, and because it is related to food, you will need to eat certain foods during the Confinement period. For instance, mothers are encouraged to eat fish and meat soups while avoiding fruits and spicy foods. Coffee isn’t allowed, and you need to stay hydrated. Avoid uncooked foods and aim to eat 6 meals a day.
Final Thoughts on Traditional Chinese Postpartum Care
All in all, the Chinese are not so different from others regarding caring about their mothers. However, they still have their traditions about postpartum care that you can try if you are interested in Chinese culture or want to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine.