Chinese Culture Postpartum Care
In Chinese culture, postpartum care is one of the most important aspects of pregnancy, because it can affect your body and health for the rest of your life. As dramatic as that sounds, in Chinese culture, 坐月 or “sitting month” refers to the first month after birth, which is a particularly crucial time, because the body is in recovery from vaginal tearing, blood loss, and trauma endured during birth. Traditionally, women are not allowed to get up from the bed or leave the house during the first month of birth, hence the name, “sitting month.” As great as it sounds to sit all month, we all know that that’s not a realistic scenario. I do, however, believe in eating foods that will nourish the body to help accelerate healing. Growing up in America I think the importance of postpartum care is mostly advised by doctors. My doctors just advised me not to do heavy lifting for several weeks and watch out for bleeding. Western medicine tends to lean towards monitoring symptoms for recovery. Chinese beliefs stress that taking care of the body now will have a lasting affect till old age. Chinese postnatal care focuses on eating certain nourishing foods that would restore the body back to equilibrium.
Take Care of Your Body
Back when I gave birth to my first born Connor, I didn’t have the best postpartum care, simply because I didn’t have time. After I gave birth to Connor, I had a slew of issues to deal with, related to milk production, feeding, and him contracting a UTI. As you can imagine, I was stressed completely out. I barely slept and ate, let alone took care of my body. My focus was solely on Connor’s health and I thought I didn’t have time to take care of myself.
Then recently, I gave birth to my second baby, Mila, and luckily, everything went a lot smoother. I produced enough milk, Mila had no problems latching, and no UTI this time whew! I’m not a scientist by any means, but I do feel as though I can attribute my good milk production to the fact that I took the time to eat Chinese postnatal dishes. With the help of my family in making these dishes for me, I felt like I was able to recuperate a lot faster this time around. My milk came a lot quicker, my energy and complexion was good, and I felt very strong in the week following the birth. This time around, I realized that my health was every bit as important as the baby’s health. Sleep deprivation can easily make you lose your appetite, but nourishing your body is equally important if not more when meeting the demands of your new boss, I mean, newborn. Having both of these experiences gave me a unique perspective that I wanted to share with other new moms.
Milk Production and Body Recovery
So cool, by now you may be convinced that a postpartum regime is critical to postnatal and long term health. Now you’re probably thinking, ok what are these magical dishes? As you might guess, postnatal recovery primarily focuses on two aspects: (1) body recovery (2) milk production. In Chinese postnatal body recovery however, body recovery means stimulating blood flow and restoring heat to the body.
Chinese culture believes that when a mother gives birth, the trauma and blood loss results in a weaker immune system, thus being more susceptible to illness. A way to counteract that would be to consume a lot of foods with ginger. It is believed that ginger is a spice that brings heat back into the body and fights infections. Ginger has been used in medicine to treat illnesses in Chinese culture. Ingesting ginger when your body is the weakest during the postnatal months is the most helpful with fighting cold, flu, and infections. It also helps alleviate nausea and morning sickness when you’re pregnant so eating ginger throughout the pregnancy and after is great for a woman’s body. Red dates are also believed to be a great way to stimulate blood flow in the body. Lastly, in terms of milk production, oatmeal is also known as an ingredient for excellent milk production. Oatmeal has an abundance of nutrients, especially iron which is important for milk production. Chinese people believe that papaya is helpful for milk production but there isn’t any scientific evidence that backs this belief. Consuming papaya itself has minerals and vitamins that are great for breast milk, but there isn’t an association of papaya itself increasing milk supply. With that said, below you’ll find recipes that include the primary ingredients. Even if you don’t have a team to help your postnatal recovery, don’t worry, these recipes are super easy to make and chock full of nutrients. If you’re about to be a mama for the first, second, or fifth time even, I strongly encourage you to check these out. If you do, please feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts!