Heng Ou, co-author of The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother and founder of Mother Bees, recently expressed some very strong opinions and ideas regarding post-pregnancy.
Heng is no newbie when it comes to pregnancies. She’s a mother of three and claims to have had wildly different endeavours with each of her children. Specifically, Heng Ou expresses the changes and differences in her postpartum experiences.
She’s well aware that each pregnancy is very different. None of them will ever be the same. Yet, she notes that no matter how different your pregnancies may be, there exists a wide variety of support for expecting mothers. In a recent post, Heng Ou noted, “There are 9,327 books about pregnancy and childbirth on Amazon. That’s nearly 10,000 possible resources to guide the expecting woman through the process of growing a baby and bringing that baby out into the world. Whether she’s hoping for a home birth or has planned a scheduled cesarean she won’t be without information and community.”
Good point, mum. Though there is a hefty amount of information for mums of newborns on the internet, there’s no denying that there exists a huge discrepancy between the information for them and the information for tenured mums and expecting mothers.
Heng Ou believes there’s simply a lack of support for mothers of newborns. She also thinks that too much is expected of them. That’s why when she learned of the art of zuo yuezi, a Chinese custom in which mothers take a month to tend to their baby after birth, she was inspired to share it with a western audience.
Ou defines zuo yuezi as “sitting the month” or “confinement.” Her aunt, who initially introduced her to the Chinese custom, encouraged her to try the technique; Ou obliged.
Here is an excerpt of her experience, and her surprising feedback:
“[Her aunt] directed me back to bed with my infant, she explained that the month-long regimen of healing foods, focused rest, and seclusion was essential for ensuring an easy recovery from childbirth, abundant breast milk for the baby, and my ongoing reproductive health.
Smiling, she pointed to her still-black hair and nearly wrinkle-free face and bragged that the zou yuezi she experienced after she had my cousin Wendy also contributed to her unwavering youthful looks. Who was I to argue? I turned my cell phone to silent, and dedicated my days and nights to sipping my auntie’s soups, resting, and feeding tiny [her newborn]. A few weeks later I felt rejuvenated and strong. I had a good handle on this breastfeeding thing and was ready to venture out into the world as a mother.
Of course, taking 40 days of dedicated rest and recovery is a luxury not every new mother will have. But it is possible to integrate the overarching philosophy of zou yuezi into your postpartum experience. Even if you do nothing more than arrange a system of help for those early weeks with baby, getting a few people to help you do laundry, take your older children to school, or cook a few simple meals (tip: ask for help before baby arrives, when you are still semi-coherent) or if you simply take the time to acknowledge the significance of pregnancy and birth, by sharing your birth story with a trusted friend or asking someone to watch the baby so you can take a soothing hot shower, you are giving yourself a more easeful, gentle, supported transition into motherhood — and every mother deserves that.”
Clearly, her experience with the Chinese tradition yielded amazing results for her and her baby. She recognizes that this approach is far from practical for most families, though, if you have the option, it is highly recommended.
What do you think of the Chinese custom of zuo yuezi, mums? Would you be or would you have been willing trying this common tradition? Let us know!
The excerpts from this article were published by Heng Ou on Mom.me.
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