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October 23, 2004

Postpartum care

Do you remember the entry for 10/21? I found this article on the web on traditional Chinese postpartum care. It will explain a little about why we had all that michiu (rice wine for cooking) in the house.

Postpartum Practices

Chinese women believe strongly in postpartum practices. Caring for oneself immediately after childbirth is very crucial in restoring women's health to pre-pregnant condition. There are wide regimens of self-care and special food intake during postpartum period. A period of care right after the delivery ranging from one to three months is known as the "sitting month". Depending on regional differences, there are variances in regiments and practices associated with sitting month. During the sitting month, women are to abstain from taking a bath, washing their hair, exposing themselves to cold water, cold temperature environment and wind, drinking ice water or eating "cold" food (i.e. uncooked vegetables, salads or fruits). The reasons for these restrictions are based on the beliefs that women are undergoing a cold stage right after the delivery due to loss of blood. In order to restore the energy, women need to consume food that are considered "hot" (i.e. hot water, soups, ginger, wine and food that are high in protein) and avoid exposing themselves to cold air, cold water or wind.

Western providers and health care members who are unfamiliar with sitting month have a difficulty time in understanding the Chinese women who just gave birth. In Western culture, cold drinks such as milk, orange juices, ice water and cold food such as salad, cold sandwiches, tomato based sauce dishes and deserts such as Jell-O, fruits and ice cream are routinely offered to women during their inpatient stay. In contrast, for Chinese women these are the types of food that their mothers, women friends and relatives have advised avoiding as much as possible. Women who had Caesarian section would want to avoid not only "cold" food but also beef or seafood. Beef and seafood are believed to prolong the healing process. It is not unusual for hospital staff to find the food served left untouched. Inpatient women preferred to have their food brought in from home. For women who have an episiotomy, nurses will advise women to use ice packs to reduce swelling and inflammation. Young Chinese women who have been exposed to Western culture will heed the advice and adopt the practice. For the majority of Chinese women, however, the practice is considered contradictory to their Chinese health belief. Traditionally, women should avoid using anything cold for fear that cold compress will increase their risk of incontinence, headache, backache and/or arthritis in old age.

Posted by Mike at October 23, 2004 01:52 AM


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