30 Days of Rest

For optimal health and faster recovery, you should commit yourself to 30 days of rest after childbirth where your primary focus is to nurture your body and feed your baby. The practice is known as the confinement month, golden month, Zou Yue Zi in Chinese, and Samchilil in Korean. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is essential that the mother relax and receive exceptional care so that she can recuperate and her womb can properly heal. This has been observed and practiced religiously in Asia for over 2,000 years where new moms are treated literally like queens and the mother, mother-in-law, or a hired “confinement lady” is exclusively responsible for taking care of the mother during her postpartum period.

This tradition continues to be practiced today by new mothers all over Asia, and among many second and third generation Asians living in the U.S.  

 

It’s very common here in the west where you see new moms bounce back to their everyday routine and rigid schedules only days after they have delivered. You see them out and about socializing at the mall holding their newborns, at the gym trying to get rid of their baby weight at lightning speeds, or lifting 20 pound bugaboo strollers at your local Safeway. With celebrities, it’s a competition on who can be back to their fit bodies the quickest. Behind closed doors, a lot of celebrities may be struggling, and some come out later to reveal their postpartum depression struggles. There is an alarming rate of postpartum depression in the U.S. and perhaps we should embrace the deep rooted Asian custom and incorporate it in our own lives. Numerous studies with groups of mothers in Taiwan, China, and Malaysia who religiously followed the confinement period revealed less postpartum stress and depression.

 

The first month after childbirth is critical in replenishing your blood and Qi and you want to steer clear from activities that deplete your energy and relax as much as possible. Because your uterus is blood deficient after childbirth, and the channels that pass through your lower abdomen are bare and open, pathogenic cold can enter very easily. During the resting period, you need to consume nourishing food and herbs that aid in your recovery. You should avoid going outside, keep your belly and feet warm, and not exercise for up to a month after delivery. Washing one’s hair was not permitted in the past. However, in modern times women are permitted to wash their hair but must immediately blow dry their hair afterwards. You should avoid consuming anything cold because this will cause wind to enter your body and delay your recovery. This lifestyle doesn’t mean you should rest in seclusion of others, but it simply requires limiting yourself from outside activities, avoiding housework, and relaxing at home for one month.

 

Calm and Quiet

 

After giving birth to your newborn, your body has been depleted of all of your nutrient stores, along with your blood and Qi, so you need to immerse yourself in a healthy environment that is calm, quiet, and warm. You should avoid listening to loud hip hop or rock music and instead listen to soothing and peaceful music that is relaxing.

 

Warm and Nourishing Foods

 

 

Your digestion is weak after childbirth and it is essential to incorporate nutritious food in order to replenish your blood and Qi and produce adequate breast milk. You need to eat warm, nutrient dense, and easy to digest foods including warm chicken soup. Avoid all raw foods as much as possible. Avoid salads. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consume vegetables or fruit. Lightly steamed vegetables and stewed fruit are much easier for your body to digest during this time because your digestion is weak and raw food takes too much energy to consume. It may also contribute to gas, bloating, indigestion, and loose stools. In addition, cold, raw food delays the shrinking of your uterus. Pregnancy is considered a hot and yang condition, whereas after you have given birth you are cold and are more yin. In order to create harmony within your body and balance the yin and the yang, you need to consume warm foods.

 

Ask for Help and Delegate

 

Ask for as much help as possible. Rebuilding your health, nourishing your body, and relaxing as much as possible are your priorities right now. Ask your mother, mother-in-law, husband, partner, friend, or hire someone to assist you during this healing process. You should only be focused on getting as much rest as possible and feeding the baby. All other household duties, including grocery shopping, cooking, doing the dishes, laundry, dusting, and cleaning should be delegated to someone else during your healing month. 

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