Chinese confinement, also known as 坐月子 (Zuo Yue Zi) in Mandarin, is a traditional postpartum practice in Chinese culture, which requires new mothers and their families to follow a set of customs and rituals during the first 30 to 40 days after giving birth.
Here, we look at what happens during the confinement period and how is it believed to help new mothers.
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What is Chinese Confinement?
This dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the belief that a new mother’s body is weakened after childbirth. The purpose of the confinement rules is to help the mother’s body regain its strength and prevent illnesses such as fever, and infections.
In the Chinese culture, the concept of “qi” is a fundamental concept in traditional Chinese medicine and is often associated with the flow of energy in the body. During the postpartum period, it is believed that the mother’s body experiences a significant loss of qi, which can leave her vulnerable to illness and disease. The practice of confinement is designed to help the mother restore her qi and regain her strength.
What are some confinement rules?
New mothers are encouraged to eat warm and nourishing foods, such as soups and stews, and avoid cold drinks and foods. Warm food are believed to be particularly beneficial, as they can help stimulate the flow of qi and nourish the body. Spicy and greasy foods are avoided as they are believed to cause inflammation and slow down the healing process.
As much rest is encouraged, and avoid strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects or exercising. They will also be advised to avoid stress and emotional agitation. All these are also seen as practice to restore and conserve qi.
Like how new mothers are instructed to avoid cold drinks and food, they should also avoid cold and wind, as they are believed to cause health problems such as joint pain and arthritis. In a similar vein, they are not supposed to wash their hair or take a bath for the first week after giving birth. It is encouraged to keep their homes warm and clean to prevent infections.
In some culture and tradition, new mothers are able to shower and advised to use warm water infused with herbs or other natural ingredients, such as ginger or red dates. This is believed to promote healing and restoration of qi by regulating the body’s temperature, improve circulation, and overall, promotes healing.
How does the confinement help me?
As the confinement period is ultimately for new mothers to recover and restore energy, it is believed that observing the confinement period can have long-term benefits for both the mother and the child. Like with any treatment, having ample rest is encouraged for your body to recuperate and bounce back.
Additionally, the confinement period provides new mothers with an opportunity to bond with their newborns and establish a strong emotional connection. By focusing on rest and relaxation, new mothers can devote more time and attention to caring for their newborns, which can promote healthy development and bonding.
The rules and customs of Chinese confinement are designed to help new mothers recover from the physical and emotional stresses of childbirth. Resting, eating nourishing foods, and avoiding strenuous activities can help the body heal and regain strength, which can lead to better long-term health outcomes. It is worth noting that the customs and practices of confinement can vary depending on cultural and regional differences, as well as individual family traditions. It is good to speak with both your healthcare provider and a member of the family who has gone through to understand more about the process.
Post Image: Kenan Zhang