It’s a pretty well-known Asian belief that when you give birth, it’s like you’re being born again yourself. You need nutrients, nurturing, rest, and time to get back to your original self. Also, you need to strengthen up your body after such a lief-altering experience, so you don’t have to suffer the consequences later on in life.
That’s why it’s customary for Asians, I’ll only speak for the Vietnamese though, to have a “One Month Cleanse/Hibernation/Recuperation” tradition for new moms. What does this mean exactly?!
Well, this means that for ONE MONTH after you have a baby, you cannot:
– leave the house for any reason (except to see the doctor/Pediatrician)
– take a bath
– watch TV, read, use the computer or basically do anything that will strain your eyes
– stand for long periods of time
– walk up and down stairs
– bend over or do too many strenuous movements
*Basically, your top priority is to take care of yourself and the baby. No distractions or unnecessary actions.*
You also have to eat a healthy and restricted diet filled with protein and carbohydrates to replace all that you lost and rebuild your body’s strength. That’s it, that’s all. For. One. Whole. Month. You can even throw in a little wine though, to help get rid of all that blood and stuff going on down there while you’re recovering (TMI?!?!).
Now, let me tell you, of all the things I had to endure during each of my cleanses, this was the worst! I’m usually a creature of habit, so I don’t mind eating the same thing everyday. But, I also love my junk food and by like the 2nd or 3rd week, I was seriously craving some pizza and fries. Yes, rice and pan-fried meat (chicken/pork) can get old after the 21st day or so…
Anyway, after about a week or so, when you’re beginning to feel a little better, more like yourself, and you’re starting to feel icky from not showering or bathing for awhile, you have to start “the cleanse”. That’s when you brew a BIG pot of all those helpful herbs and natural extracts and you sit inside a closed area (you can use a tent) and let the steam engulf you. It’s basically like sitting in a sauna for like 15-20 minutes, and luckily, the brew doesn’t stink.
When you’re all sweaty and gross, then comes the part where you now have to wash yourself with the brew with either a rag or a sponge. Just rub the water all over your body and clean yourself as best as you can. Thankfully, I have a loving and nurturing mother who took care of all of this for me (usually the elders help you with this anyways, which is why we respect them so much) and I love her even more for doing this. Anyways, you would think that sounds icky, but it’s not like the brew is sticky or smelly. It’s really just boiled water with herbal extracts, so you’re left feeling refreshed and, really, a lot cleaner than you were half an hour ago.
This continues every few days until your time is up.
So, what is the point of all this, you say?! Well, like I said, it’s about strengthening your body and helping it heal so you can get back to your life and daily living. Also, when we get older, we’re going to have those aches and pains, especially as a woman, so it’s necessary to take care of your body while you’re young and able so you don’t suffer so much when you’re older. At least, that’s the old school way of thinking (which I highly believe, in this case, because there are plenty of older Asian women that are walking around like they’re still 20).
Speaking from personal experience, I always whine and complain about it, but I see the logic in it and appreciate this part of my culture and tradition. My family and I are often amazed at how American women can just get up and go to the nail salon or like, do 50 jumping jacks, only 3-4 days after giving birth! Seriously, my bajingo is still crying from the trauma and my uterus is torturing me with cramps while it shrinks. I don’t know how they do it, nor do I want to do that to my body. But, to each their own. This is definitely one of those things that I’ll be teaching my kids and hopefully, helping them through one day.
So, what are your thoughts on this particular tradition?!
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