Around the world post-partum

I was flicking through a parenting magazine this morning when I saw a couple of pages on post partum traditions from different parts of the world. Some were pretty interesting while others were downright bizzare. I wanted to share my fascinating learning’s from different cultures around the world.

1) China, Hong Kong and Taiwan

In the Asian countries of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan exists a tradition called “zuo yuezi” (sitting the month). It is a 30 day regimen of food and rest to help new mothers recover from the rigors and often trauma of child birth. According to Yuezi theory, follicles expand during childbirth and so part partum we are vulnerable to the cold. Women should therefore stick to warming foods like chicken, ginger and pumpkin. They also shouldn’t leave their homes for 30 days (also know as the confinement period) and don’t usually shower or wash their hair. Don’t think I’d be very keen on the last part!!

mee sua confinement

2) India

In India, they too, have a confinement tradition after birth (usually 40 days). Various communities do it differently in India but the tradition started as a way to protect mothers and their babies from infection and to help the mother recover from the exhaustion of child birth. The mother is also usually made to eat foods with ghee (indian full fat fresh butter), black cumin seeds, turmeric and fenugreek, which helps with the production of milk, strength building and as an antiseptic. The mothers tummy is usually tightly wrapped to help her uterus contract and her shape to go back to the way it was pre-pregnancy and the baby is given massages to help their muscles become strong and long.


3) Africa

Stroller what? In the West now, it has become such a big deal to “baby wear”. There are all sorts of slings and wraps you can get to carry your baby. Some people do it practicing attachment parenting while others do it for convenience when out and about. In Africa, baby wearing has been around longer than slice bread! But they don’t have any fancy slings or wraps. A simple piece of fabric is used. They bend forward, place baby on their back and wrap the fabric around them twice, securing it in the front. When I was a baby suffering from colic (I was born in Africa), I was often carried by my nanny in this way while she went about doing her work. Apparently being upright and in motion helped.


4) Latin American

In Latin America there is a 40 day “quarantine” (la cuarentena), similar to that in South East Asia and India. It’s a 40 day post partum period for mothers to recuperate and bond with their babies. The 3 important factors are food, sex and rest. Sex is an absolute no no, food is divided into 2 categories: the approved (carrots, chicken soup) and the forbidden (spicy or heavy food) and rest is a must. Errands are taken on by other family members and as they believe a mother’s body is vulnerable and “open”, to protect herself she must wrap her head and neck with garments and wrap her abdomen in a cloth called a faja.

5) America

The new post partum fad in the States is a “Lotus Birth”. It involves leaving the umbilical cord attached to your baby after birth and letting it fall off naturally by itself. Leaving the umbilical cord attached is said to be the healthier choice. As there is no wound created at the umbilical site, there is lesser chance of infection.


So what do you think? Do you follow any of these post partum traditions?

Amanda Holden has been criticised recently as she went back to work when her baby was only 3 weeks old (after she almost died during child birth). How long did your body take to heal after having a baby?



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