Yuzi: Modernizing Chinese Postpartum Rituals to Fit Our Lives

  • Author: Lucy Xia
  • Published On: May 1, 2024
  • Category: Postpartum Care

Traced back to as early as the year 960, the Chinese practice of "Zuo Yue Zi," or "sitting the month," is deeply rooted in traditions aimed at supporting new mothers after childbirth to allow their body to recover. The two main pillars of this ancient practice are diet and rest. During this 40-day period, someone caters to the mother’s physical needs and helps with milk production and other needs through nutrition, massages, infant care, taking care of the household chores, and more.

However, many of these ancient principles can be adapted to better fit our modern lives today – in fact it’s exactly what inspired the name behind Yuzi, and our mission for Care, Confidence, and Connection. Let's explore how these ancient practices can be translated for today's parents.

Prioritize Self-Care (Care)

One of the core aspects of Zuo Yue Zi is the emphasis on nourishing the body with nutritious foods and prioritizing mental wellbeing. In Chinese tradition, this includes consuming warming foods like soups and herbal teas to aid recovery and restore balance and avoiding cold foods. While we’d never suggest you give up ice cream during postpartum, the takeaway is to focus on nutrient-dense meals that support postpartum healing, such as foods rich in iron (red meats, leafy greens), protein (eggs, beans, tofu, meats and fish), and essential vitamins like vitamin D (salmon, oranges).

Additionally, prioritizing self-care also means prioritizing your mental wellbeing, especially during this transformative time. Studies show that up to 85% of women experience some type of mood disturbance after giving birth and 67% of parents with young children feel isolated. Just know that this is a time where your mental wellbeing is highly likely to be disrupted. Incorporating mindfulness practices, gentle exercise like yoga or walks, and setting aside moments for relaxation and self-reflection, along with seeking professional help can help you prioritize your mental health as you navigate parenthood.

Take Your Time (Confidence)

Zuo Yue Zi emphasizes the importance of allowing ample time for your body to recover after childbirth. This concept of "sitting the month" encourages rest, relaxation, and gradual reintegration into daily activities for 40 days. While counting the number of days of rest is not necessarily the point, embracing the idea of taking things slow over rushing back to pre-pregnancy routines is. Remember, postpartum is a continuous phase of changes. It is not a race and taking the time to embrace the journey can help you navigate this time with greater resilience, patience, and confidence.

Seek a Support Network (Connection)

Because multi-generational families are common in Chinese culture, family plays a central role in supporting new parents during Yue Zi. This support network provides invaluable assistance with household chores and baby care which can take a lot of the emotional and physical labor off your plate during this time of exhaustion. It’s important to cultivate your own support networks by reaching out to family, friends, or joining local postpartum support groups. Connecting with other parents who understand the challenges of the postpartum period is key for finding shared experience and camaraderie.

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