Eastern and Oriental Medicine, especially the Chinese, traditionally adhere to 30 days of restful confinement called “zhou ye”, where peace and quiet and alone time is honored so the mother can recover after having a baby. In India, confinement and rest lasts 40-60 days. During this time the postpartum mothers are to lay in bed, do very minimal (if any) house chores, consume lactation-inducing soups with black chicken and herbal tonics. According to Eastern Asian Medicine and the Chinese tradition, the woman must stay in bed behind closed windows, give up bathing, washing her hair and even brushing her teeth. She must not zan shui, or “touch water.”
Drinking liquids and eating foods that are cold are prohibited. Engaging in social conversation, visiting with others, even reading or crying is frowned upon because this could drain and deplete need energy to nurse and heal. Also, stress and tension is proven to deplete milk supply. Additional rules include: not lifting anything heavy, reading or engaging in social media, or using electronic devices for 30 days. This is because the mind and body needs to be in a very good mood and disposition while repairing and one must get ample restful sleep.
Mothers who have just given birth also rely on relatives (usually the mother or mother in law) and siblings to help take care of them and the newborn baby.
If the Chinese sound hardcore, this is because they are! But there must be something said about these thousand year long traditions that are still practiced strongly today, even in America. In India, new moms are traditionally given a full body massage everyday during their confinement period. (Sign me up for that!) Keep reading for the allowed and prohibited types of healing foods for the new moms. It gives much prospective into the eastern cultural uniqueness.
For Optimum Healing: A typical menu for the new mom after childbirth includes:
An assortment of Chinese herbal soups and brews, often made with Chinese rice wine, black chicken soup or stew (the black chicken has greater healing potential than traditional white chicken), liver, pig feet, peanuts, dates, goji berries, ginger, and brown sugar. Koreans are encouraged to drink gallons of seaweed soup during their 21 days of rest. There are purposes to all the things you are supposed to do. The basic idea is that mothers must boost immune system as much as possible (as to stand off the flu), get ample rest and consume herbal soups and brews to rid body toxins and replenish valuable and lost nutrients.
Breastfeeding: What to eat vs. not
NOT – bad for breastfeeding:
1. Pig kidneys
2. Pig livers
4. Hot spices
5. Malt products
6. Raw fish
YES – good for breastfeeding:
1. Red kidney beans
2. Red beans
3. Soy beans
7. Pork hooves
8. Lotus roots
9. Green papaya
Sources: The Daily Beast.com, TheStar.com, ChinaDaily.com, babycenter.com, theguardian.com,