In culturally dynamic Calgary, as a postpartum doulas and placenta encapsulation specialist, I have the opportunity to witness a variety of postpartum traditions. My favorite is the Chinese tradition of “Sitting the Month,” or Zuo Yue Zi. Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, it is even mentioned in the 2000-year-old text I-Ching or Book of Changes.
Essentially, the Chinese practice of “Sitting the Month” is exactly that, a month of sitting after your baby is born. Although the basics remain the same: avoid strenuous activity, stay indoors, eat specific foods with the intention of balancing the body, and avoid washing; practices vary based on where in China the family originates.
When assisting Chinese-Canadian families in Calgary that are practicing the tradition of Zuo Yue Zi, I’ve seen just how beneficial (and sometimes boring and frustrating) “Sitting the Month” can be. A new mother just spent 9 months nourishing their baby and endured the strenuous work of giving birth. It’s only logical that an extended period of rest should follow for optimal recovery. The new father and grandparents often assist with infant care allowing them to form a strong bond to the baby, without disrupting the breastfeeding relationship.
Chinese-Canadian families with a new baby may also choose to hire a postpartum doula or yue sao. In addition to the support we generally offer as postpartum doulas, breastfeeding support, infant care and postpartum recovery assistance, household duties, and care of older children, yue sao specialize in preparing warming foods to nourish the new mother.
Not only do we provide postpartum doula care to families practicing Zuo Yue Zi, we also meet many new families when we come to prepare their placenta for consumption. Placenta encapsulation also has roots in Chinese culture and the method we use is inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine. In theory, the placenta is a warming herb and the postpartum body in a cool state. By ingesting the properly prepared placenta capsules the new mother restores balance to her body.
I always love seeing how sweetly partners and grandparents care for new mothers who are “Sitting the Month”. The family often brings food, and handles all of the diaper changes and infant care, bringing a baby to the mother for cuddling and breastfeeding. While in their home to prepare their placenta pills we also assist with feeding, infant care, and answer questions about their body and recovery.
The transition that Zuo Yue Zi facilitates is beautiful. The postpartum time is one for recovery. The new mother’s body is to be honored, healed and replenished. Pressure to recovery too quickly can lead to postpartum depression or other postpartum mood disorders and possible long-term health complications.
You can incorporate the concepts of Zuo Yue Zi into your postpartum recovery by following the basic concepts of avoiding strenuous activity, keeping your body warm, eating warm, nourishing foods, and enlisting postpartum support.
Our postpartum doulas are prepared to learn about your family’s customs and help to facilitate them. We have the unique ability to help you follow through with the family traditions you treasure and also the flexibility to support your personal or modernized interpretation. Contact us to learn more about how we can make “Sitting the Month” a rejuvenating experience for your family.