While post-birth care for mothers is not mainstream practice in Western medicine, many Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin, indigenous and other cultures view the month or so following birth as a sacred and crucial time for new moms to recover. Traditions vary by ethnicity, region and religion, but there are common themes: female-oriented, family-centric support networks; a focus on fortifying the new mother’s health; and rites of passage and celebrations marking new beginnings. Many Asian American women abide by or adapt traditions out of respect for the older generation, and some second-generation Asian American women are following the traditions even more closely than their foremothers.I often wonder what it was like for my children's birth mothers during the first month after birth. Did they get pampered and mothered? Or were post-birth traditions ignored so as to hide the births?
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But many Asian post-birth traditions adhere to the belief that a mother’s health is intimately connected to that of her newborn. For thousands of years, Asian and Pacific Islander families have viewed the initial month after birth as a vital period of growth and recovery for both, requiring the pair to be shielded from the “hostile” world. Therefore, new mothers are typically pampered by their own mothers and relatives — in short, the mothers get mothered.
New mothers also abide by restrictions such as not bathing or washing their hair, eating only warm, low-sodium foods and staying homebound for the month. Often, visitors are not allowed. Also off limits: television, reading, computers and anything that may strain the eyes.
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