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Confinement after Childbirth: OK or No Way?

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In China, the month after childbirth is both a critical and sacred time for mother and baby, and most new moms choose to stay in lockdown for those thirty days, otherwise known as confinement.

Noelle Leung and her kids
While the word "confinement" may have negative connotations here, the practice is deeply rooted in cultures with an emphasis on respect for mothers and children.

USA Today reports that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, the month after giving birth is when new mothers are especially vulnerable to health problems, so they're not supposed to go outside, take a bath, brush their teeth or do anything else that could allow "bad wind" into their bodies.
The confinement period is also a source of big business in China. While we have doulas, the Chinese have confinement specialists. In fact, if you do not have relatives staying with you to help you follow the rules of confinement, known as cho yuet, you can stay in one of China's many postpartum hotels. But not everyone can afford this, so participating in confinement has become a status symbol.  

Many Latin American countries practice La Cuarentena, or forty days of rest for the mother after her baby is born. During this period, diet and cleanliness guidelines are strictly adhered to, and rest is of the utmost importance.

Moms, what do would you do if you were forced to rest and recuperate for thirty days or more following delivery? 

next: Does Attachment Parenting Create Oversensitive Kids?
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Tanequa Hasan December 2, 2010, 1:28 PM

I would love this kind of treatment being a mother of 5 children who are all 3 to 4 years apart. Each of them I tried to stay home with them longer and longer with each one. First-son,12 3months, next-daughter,10 6weeks, next-daughter,7 6weeks, then-son,3 for 1year, now still pending I am choosing to stay home with my current 2month old. But I have never been able to stay indoors for 30dys w/o going out during any of these times…I WISH!

Tabitha December 2, 2010, 1:35 PM

I’m due January 6th, and I am going to consider this. The biggest problem will be family. Everyone wants to see the new baby, and they don’t want to wait. Family has even decided to fly in from out of state a few weeks after we are due just to see the new baby. How do you convince your family that despite their excitement, you and baby need a month to rest first?

Hannah December 2, 2010, 6:25 PM

I like this in theory. Sure, I would love to stay holed up in bed with just my newborn, having other people take care of me…and the house! But I have other kids and I’d miss them too much. It’s hard enough leaving them for a couple of days to go to the hospital.

cyndi December 3, 2010, 5:28 PM

I was very surprised to read this article. With China’s well known lack of respect for human life, particularly babies (mandatory abortions for more than one child), I was shocked to hear anyone refer to the Chinese as having “respect for mothers and children.” On another note, no baths, brushing of teeth for a month? EWWWWW!

Anonymous December 3, 2010, 5:56 PM


What planet are you on? The one child policy in China started in 1978, take a guess how old the culture and country is. While you’re at it, find out how far back this tradition goes. Forced abortions were outlawed in 2002. And if you equate abortion or the death penalty with a lack of respect for human life, maybe you should start with your own state.

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