Chinese Postpartum Confinement

What is Chinese Postpartum Confinement?

Postpartum confinement in Chinese custom dates back as far as the year 960. It is known as "sitting the month" ("Zuò yuè zi坐月子 in Mandarin or "Co Jyut" 坐月  in Cantonese). It is a confinement period of a month or 30 days where the new mama stays at home to recover from pregnancy and childbirth.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, women are more prone to illnesses resulting from excess yin or coldness particularly after childbirth. Also, a woman's joints open up and remain open after childbirth, making her vulnerable to "catching wind".  This is believed to lead to future long term health problems. Therefore, by following certain rules and practices, the new mama will recover quicker and prevent any ailments when she grows older.

Generally, the new mama is supported by her own mother, mother in law or hired postpartum nanny to help with the cooking, cleaning, looking after baby and so forth while she recovers from childbirth.  

General Rules of Confinement

  1. No washing of hair and body
  2. No going outside of home
  3. No raw/cold food and cold drink
  4. No spicy or salty food
  5. No working or household chores
  6. Avoid walking or exercising
  7. No sex
  8. Avoid wind, air conditioners or fans
  9. Keep body warm by wearing beanie, socks and long sleeved clothing.

What do you eat during confinement?

The types of food differ depending on the Asian culture. The focus is generally targeted on smaller frequent meals which are high protein, iron rich, low fat food and also to stay hydrated.

  • Week 1: Detoxification to discharge excess lochia and clean out the body
    • Food such as chicken and fish soup, red dates tea, ginger and overall non greasy food.
  • Week 2: Replenish the body, restore blood and dispelling "wind" from body
    • Iron rich food such as dark green vegetables, animal offals, pork, chicken and fish.
  • Week 3: Repair the body, strengthen bones, pelvis contraction and encourage milk production
    • Foods such as pork loin, pig's feet, papaya and fish soup, ginger, red dates, sesame
  • Week 4: Rejuvenate, build health and nourish the body
    • More vegetables, seafood, fruits

Popular food/drinks include:

  • Pork and beetroot soup, chinese watercress soup, fish with papaya soup 
  • Chinese black vinegar ginger pigs trotter, chicken in sesame oil
  • Red date tea with goji berries

Traditional vs. Modern Practices

Some of the practices seem extreme and the modern mama may have so many questions.  How can I not wash my hair and body for a month? It's 40 degrees summer weather right now, how can I not have air conditioning or a fan or even not have a cold drink? 

Many Asian families now choose which practices to follow or change to combine it with current lifestyles. They use the traditional practices as a guide to help recover from childbirth quickly and pay homage to their culture. 


Disclaimer: The information published herein is intended and strictly only for educational and information purposes. This informational should not be misconstrued as medical advice. Always consult your chosen medical professional in relation to any medical questions and concerns of your health and your baby's health.

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