In the U.S., there’s bragging rights for the moms who get up and kick around a soccer ball in the hours after birth. Whether or not it’s a good idea, we are a nation somewhat in denial about the physicality of birth (see also: 6-week maternity leave as luxury).
For centuries, Chinese women underwent “confinement” after the birth of a child. During that month, the postpartum mother took to her bed while her own mother and female relatives cooked and cleaned for her, and generally tried to keep a “bad wind” from entering the body. Bathing, teeth-brushing, eating cold food or even crying were strictly off-limits. Even allowing strangers into the home was too risky.
Of course a lot has changed in China and all over Asia, just in the last few decades. Including “confinement” practices. Nowadays, the work of caring for a new mother is outsourced — and a booming business with more demand than supply. So right after finding a doctors, wealthy pregnant women get on the waiting lists of confinement ladies.
Other businesses springing up around the four to six weeks after childbirth: confinement hotels and confinement food delivery services (which specialize in confinement food like pork knuckles in ginger and vinegar).
The practice has also made it to the U.S. According to a piece on confinement in USA Today, one Taiwanese mother who came to the U.S. to have her baby checked into a Los Angeles confinement hotel for the month following her baby’s birth.
Sound dreamy? Sure … except that part about not brushing your teeth.