Sitting the Month

Chinese practice calls for moms to do nothing for a month after they deliver their baby

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Traditional Chinese mothers practice “zuo yuezi” — or “sitting the month” — after delivering their babies. Whether it’s assistance from relatives at home or at a facility designed to aid new moms — and staffed with nurses and nutrition experts — these mothers take it very easy for 30 days. They eat special foods to help them recover and avoid chills to help restore their body’s balance. Beyond nursing, they literally do nothing and go nowhere for a month.

While taking it this easy for a month may not be possible or advisable for many mothers, new moms should call upon whatever support they need to take care of their babies and themselves. Unfortunately, isolation from extended family and employment demands often mean that women don’t get the help and rest they may need.

“One problem with modern life is we were meant to be in small villages with family units to help new mothers and help in the process and be supportive,” said Rob Kiltz, founder and director of CNY Fertility in Rochester. “We’re herd animals and meant to be interactive.”

Kiltz is a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and board-certified in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Kiltz said that post-partum support should do more than just ease mom’s burden, but should include help from the family.

“It’s not just about ‘Let me help you do nothing’, but as a village, tribe, family and group, ‘Let’s work together for the greater good.’ Raising a child is meant to be done as a family. That’s where we get our best creativity and joy out of life.”

Women’s bodies change a lot from pre-pregnancy to pregnant to post-partum. Christi Muscato is a DONA-certified doula, birth doula trainer, Lamaz-certified educator and co-owner of Beautiful Birth Choices in Rochester. She likens the time after delivery as the “fourth trimester” because it takes a while for women’s bodies to heal and recover.

Christine Kowaleski, New York state coordinator for Postpartum Support International, acknowledges that support for new moms helps them cope with the changes involved with having a baby. But once their doctors give them clearance to exercise, walking and yoga can help moms get active again.

“Exercise is always good for everyone, and may be helpful in preventing baby blues,” she said.

In addition to helping mothers reduce their risks for postpartum depression and develop coping mechanisms, Postpartum Support International also helps moms network.

“Using complementary medicine team with our support group has really helped our moms and they decide on their own when they’re ready to go out on their own,” Kowaleski said.

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