6.29.2008

Doing the Month: How to balance post partum tradition




Well, I gave birth to baby Kai on Saturday June 21. After an intense labor, my mother put me on a strict regiment following the Vietnamese tradition of resting and confinement for 30 days. Confinement might be too harsh of a word but there are days when I feel that way. In the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Hmong cultures, the thirty days following the birth is crucial in getting a women's health back in order. Our cultures believe that the "30 days" of rest can prevent illness in a woman's golden years. Since all the women in my family has practiced this ritual for generations, I'm doing the same. Both of my grandmothers who have 7-8 children are well in their late 70's and still have their wits and health.

The belief is that the body is cold after pregnancy, and that the new mother needs to feed her body with "hot" foods and keep warm. One of the main goals of this ritual is to prevent a new mother from catching wind. The herbalist at the Saigon Herb Shop in East Oakland validated everything my mom has listed out for me:

-Hot water bottles on the belly to shrink the uterus and loosen any bad blood. It also reduces the flabby tummy look.

-Limited walking while in the house in fact the more time laying in bed, the better.

-Hot ginger tea, no cold drinks. Room temperature or hot is best.

-The feet must be kept warm all the time with socks or house slippers.

- Lots of chicken cooked with ginger.

- No sour foods (citrus fruits, pickled foods) for the same reason we do Kegel exercises.

- No showering, however this one is up for debate. I've spoken with older Chinese and they say quick hot showers every few days is okay as long as the hair is dried immediately. Generations ago in Vietnam/China, people did not have blow dryers and many people did not have actual shower stalls. With our modernization, catching wind after a shower is minimal.

This tradition is most important after the birth of a women's first child. Usually other females in the family or hired help will prepare the special meals and do housechores.

Honestly, the process hasn't been that bad.I think the tradition makes sense. As an American, I'm so use to being active, and laying around the house is strange to me. But visitors have come by, and it makes the experience less isolating. I've got 20 more days to go, and I'll be walking around the lake with my new baby soon enough.

For more information about this tradition, read here

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