Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rooted in Motherhood

At Hyphen mag, a wonderful post about post-birth traditions in Asia:
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.

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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.
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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