Many physical and emotional changes are experienced by new mothers during the post-partum period (the first six weeks after childbirth) and well into the first year of motherhood. Let’s learn about how different societies support new mums.
Zuo yue is a tradition dating back to the Song dynasty (960-1279) and is still followed by many new mothers in China. This four-week period of rest is designed to honour the woman and acknowledge her new role as a mother, while simultaneously reestablishing the balance between yin and yang.
Traditionally, a woman’s physical activity and personal hygiene are limited when ‘doing the month’. Her mother or other relatives, including her mother-in-law, take care of the household and baby, while the new mum rests in bed, keeping warm and sometimes avoiding bathing, washing her hair and cleaning her teeth to avoid the cold. Many of these traditions are still closely observed in rural China, though women in suburban and metropolitan areas are more likely to walk around the house and attend to personal hygiene.
Women in Western nations, such as Australia, typically resume ‘normal’ life shortly after giving birth. This can help regulate weight and facilitates bonding between mother and child.
Autonomy around food choices and activity levels remains, but there’s considerable variation in the support received by new mothers, especially since it largely depends on personal circumstances. Your partner may take paternity leave, your mum might come to help, and your friends may drop off a meal or two to help support your transition into motherhood.
Other traditions around the world:
- To avoid hurting their eyes, new Vietnamese mums aren’t supposed to cry, read or watch TV.
- Cambodian women are encouraged to stay calm while avoiding strong emotions and overthinking.
- New mums in Guyana have a special celebration nine days after birth, where guests bring golden bangles for the newborn. During the celebration, some mums burn their placenta to symbolise the parting of mother and baby.
- In some Hindu families, a new mum’s breasts are washed by female relatives before the baby’s first feed.
- New mothers in Japan are treated to a month (or longer) of rest and pampering at her parents’ house, known as ansei.
- Some women in Thailand also enjoy yu duan, a 30-day rest period, though mums of baby girls get a longer rest period. Why? Well, it’s believed women deserve longer with their mums at the beginning because they work harder than men throughout life!
It’s worth acknowledging that not all mothers choose to adopt these traditions and many simply tackle motherhood in their own special way. Which is fine. In fact, it’s great.
While taking a probiotic isn’t a tradition for new mothers in Australia, it’s becoming known that they can help to support a healthy microbiome. Life-Space Breastfeeding Probiotic, for instance, can help support general health and wellbeing. Two of its 10 probiotic strains, Bifidobacteria breve and Lactobacillus fermentum, are naturally found in breastmilk, while it also features iodine to support a baby’s healthy brain development while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Probiotic also contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, which may help to reduce the risk of eczema in children with a family history, when taken during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in the first two years of life.
Whether you take probiotics or embrace any cultural traditions is entirely your choice. Wherever you’re from, we hope you have the support you need as you get to know your precious new baby. Enjoy this incredibly special moment in your life!
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.