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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chinese confinement - Zuo Yuezi

If you haven't heard of the ancient practice of Zuo Yuezi, let me introduce you.  I am not of Chinese descent, don't have any relatives of Chinese descent nor have I experienced Zuo Yuezi,  although I wish I did, with some modern updates, like showering and  being able to brush my teeth.

To condense it into it's simplest form, it requires the new Mom to be confined for 40 days during which she is to avoid all all forms of stress such as crying, shouting and talking for an entire cycle of the moon.  During that time, Mom's are fed foods that promote healing of the body and are basically pampered.  In ancient times, bathing and brushing teeth were prohibited and staying in bed for the duration of that time was mandatory as well.  In modern days, many families have updated their practice of this custom since clean water is no longer an issue in many of the places where this is practiced and women get up and around dependent on their delivery.

In lieu of many families being available to new Moms centers that carry on this tradition have sprung up seemingly under the radar, read The New York Times article   The Mother and baby move into the center for that time, where they are cared for, get support for breastfeeding and are surrounded by other new Mother's.  Spouses can visit whenever they like.    For someone like me who had zero help when my daughter arrived, knowing what I know now, I would have taken advantage of something like this if it had been available to me and if I had truly realized the sheer magnitude of what I was about to take on. 

Having said that, I recently met a Mother who just had her second child.  Not unlike me, she had zero support when her first child was born.  Her family lived far away and were unavailable to help.  She experienced a lot of the same feelings and agonies about going it alone for the first time that when she recently had her second child, she didn't question for a second the idea of having a postpartum doula at her home 24/7 for the first several weeks.  She said, "I'm not stupid, I know what's in the best interest of my mental health!  If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  Smart Mom. 

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