well, we have officially made it through the first month of kaylah’s life. while we chose to go western-style for prenatal and delivery care… the postpartum period was all chinese-style. That means the first month after delivery is 坐月子 “zuo yuezi”. Literally translated, it means sitting the first month, others have translated it as the confinement month. During this month, there are tons of things the mom should and shouldn’t eat, drink or do in order to fully recover. I have had other older women tell me their aches and pains they experience later in life are because they did not properly 坐月子 “zuo yuezi”. During this month, it’s all about doing things to properly 补 “bu” (mend). Thanks to my aunt and mom diligently researching the various “zuo yuezi” theories, I was well cared for… and I (mostly) dutifully obeyed whatever I was told to do. =) ironically, my mom did not even do all these things when she had her kids, as she was in the US by then with no one to help. but we figured it couldn’t hurt to try some of these 坐月子 traditions and wisdom.
so a glimpse at some things in our apartment during that time:
dried lemongrass – to make lemongrass water that is to be poured on your body after showering. the theory is this protects you from getting cold. cold is a *huge* thing to be avoided in zuo rezi. both outwardly and inwardly. that means no direct exposure to cold air (i.e. air conditioning vent), no drinking cold drinks, no eating cold foods… and traditionally, it even meant no bathing for the first month to avoid getting cold. thank goodness for modern technology that gives heated water and indoor shelter… so i was allowed to bathe. =) just as long as i used the lemongrass water afterwards, of course.
a fully stocked refrigerator and freezer – filled with things that are nutritious and help to 补 “bu” your body. some of the more unique things include pig’s feet, kidneys, tripe, fish heads…
chinese herbs – boiled each day to create a drink for me, which again, is supposed to be good for all kinds of things and to continue to 补 “bu”
more chinese medicines and ginseng wine – to be taken in the latter part of the month to continue to 补 “bu”.
other traditional rules i’ve heard of that i didn’t quite follow include:
no leaving the house for the entire month (thus the term confinement month)
remain lying down for as much of the time as possible
wearing long socks, long sleeves, long pants, etc… to avoid being cold. even in the dead of summer
not bathing to avoid catching cold
it was definitely an experience for all of us. =) now that the month is over, all constraints are off… and i celebrated with a nice scoop of *cold* ice cream. =)
so what are some 坐月子 traditions you have heard about or tried? or what do other cultures do?