CON­FINE­MENT AROUND THE WORLD

Your Baby & Toddler - - Baby Files: Newborn -

Latin Amer­ica: “La cuar­entena” is a 40-day pe­riod dur­ing which new moms give the body time to heal. Ac­cord­ing to a Slate.com ar­ti­cle by Re­becca Tuhus-dubrow, “Sex is a no-no. Rest is man­dated and tra­di­tion­ally fa­cil­i­tated by fe­male rel­a­tives who take over er­rands and chores. Foods are di­vided into the ap­proved (car­rots, chicken soup) and the for­bid­den (spicy and heavy fare). The new mother’s body is con­sid­ered vul­ner­a­ble or open, and to pro­tect her­self, she must cover her head and neck with gar­ments and wrap her ab­domen in a cloth called a ‘faja’. She might also avoid wash­ing her hair. Many women be­lieve proper ob­ser­vance leads to good health in old age, while lapses in­cur all sorts of prob­lems, from headaches now to ill­ness later in life.”

China: Tra­di­tion­ally new moms are not al­lowed to go out­side, can­not take a shower or drink cold wa­ter for an en­tire month. The 30-day con­fine­ment pe­riod is called “sit­ting the month” or zuo yuezi, a pe­riod to re­cover from child­birth. The new mom is not al­lowed to eat raw fruit or veg­eta­bles, drink cof­fee, cold drinks or even cold wa­ter, which can only be drunk tepid or hot.

Viet­nam and South-east Asia: In the first month af­ter child­birth, the new mom leaves her hair un­washed for two weeks and wears warm clothes and socks, even on warmer days. She has to cover her whole body in yel­low saf­fron ex­tract and stay in a quiet room. Walk­ing around is not per­mit­ted nor is speak­ing loudly. Tele­vi­sion, the in­ter­net, books and phone calls are a no-no. Nour­ish­ment dur­ing the first month comes from pigs’ feet porridge, rice with boiled veg­eta­bles and salty pork.

In­dia: Dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties and re­gions have dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions but gen­er­ally, the new mother is sup­posed to do a min­i­mum of house­work and rest as much as pos­si­ble. A mother can only in­dulge in her con­fine­ment pe­riod if she has help from fam­ily mem­bers.

New moth­ers are given a full body mas­sage or ‘maal­ish’ once a day, while the moth­ers give their ba­bies a daily mas­sage as part of their daily bath rou­tine. It is be­lieved the con­fine­ment time and re­cov­ery of the mother are very closely linked to what she eats. Each re­gion has its own con­fine­ment foods. It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that af­ter birth a mother’s body loses “bal­ance” and en­ters a “cold stage” due to the loss of blood. Con­fine­ment food is there­fore usu­ally made with in­gre­di­ents that are be­lieved to be warm­ing.

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