Chinese Practices to Help Your Postpartum Recovery


Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful nine months of a woman’s life. It is also one of the most physically taxing. As your baby grows in your belly, your body undergoes all sorts of changes which you need a suitable amount of time to recover from. Different cultures prescribe different ways of helping women recover from the stress and rigors of pregnancy and childbirth. Here are some Chinese practices meant to help new moms regain their strength and set them on the path towards wellness.

Sitting the month The first 30 days after delivery is deemed crucial for the new mom's recovery. At this time, recovering moms are confined at home in a process known as zuo yuezi.

Anni Lien Chua of Hao Po Po Philippines, an organization which provides healthy post-pregnancy meals for women, says, “Traditionally, a woman remains at home during this period. Pregnancy is a yang state but during childbirth, the mother loses the heat and becomes yin. Health is seen as a harmony between the yin and yang qi of the body and sitting the month is restoring the equilibrium of the body.”

At this time, new moms are not only prohibited from receiving visitors, they are also forbidden to step outside. Ancient tradition also calls for new moms to refrain from taking baths, engaging in sexual activity, and using air conditioning.

Of course, these customs may be taken with a grain of salt but there is scientific evidence that confinement actually helps new moms. Apart from giving new moms time to heal and recover, confinement also strengthens family relationships as everybody in the household pitches in to make this process go as smooth and comfortable as possible.

The role of the yue-sao New moms know how challenging it is to take care of their babies while they're still recovering themselves. It is a feat which calls for new moms to draw from their reserves of patience and strength while going on four hours of sleep, or less. Fortunately for Chinese women, there is the yue-sao or the postpartum doula.

The yue-sao takes care of the well-being of the new mom and her baby for the first month after birth. She not only gives mom a bath, in ginger water according to tradition, she also prepares for her special meals to assist in her recovery and stimulate breast milk production. The yue-sao makes sure that customs and traditions pertaining to this phase of a mother's life are followed in order to get her back to the pink of health.

Ge lai meals Of course, nutrition plays an important part in the recovery process—and new moms are given special ge lai meals in order to boost their strength and stamina, among other things. These meals can also help in expelling toxins and waste tissues and improving blood circulation.

Chua explains ge lai meals are given to new moms during the 30 days after childbirth. She explains, “It’s the most crucial window period when the mother’s body is able to absorb the required nutrients in its maximum capacity.”

At this time, the mother is given special ge lai meals alongside herbal remedies to help her body recover. Since the Chinese consider pregnancy a hot condition and postpartum a cold one (because of the blood loss), hot food is preferred to restore balance and rebuild blood supply.

Chua says, “Beef should be taken only on the third week as it slows the healing process. In some instances, too much warm or hot food can also cause nose bleeds and constipation. Knowing how to balance the postpartum diet with the right food and right amount of herbs and nutrients is the way to enable mothers to recuperate and get the nourishment she needs during this stage.”

At this time, moms are advised to include the following in their diet: cabbage, carrot, Chinese broccoli, sweet potato leaves, lettuce, celery, apple, grapes, papaya, strawberry, cherry, honey peach, durian, warm milk, chicken, fish, pork, spare rib, pig liver, pig kidney, mud crab, shrimp, pig feet, peanuts, and carp.

On the other hand, moms are asked to avoid the following: cucumber, sponge gourd, winter melon, Chinese cabbage, white turnip, eggplant, bamboo shoot, seaweed, mung bean, lotus root, lemon, pear, grapefruit, pomelo, watermelon, and coconut.

Since not all moms can get the help of a yue-sao, who can prepare these ge lai meals, Taiwanese company Hao Po Po provides post-pregnancy meals in accordance with Chinese tradition. This special service is also now available in the Philippines. For more information, visit or call 542-5253, 0917-5364632, or 0939-2583954.

Image by Geishaboy500 (edited)