It also advises that during the zuoyuezi period a new mother should stay indoors and avoid bathing, washing the hair or brushing the teeth. She should also wear a hat or scarf at all times, keep windows closed, and stay in bed for as long as possible.
Contemporary postnatal care considers certain TCM axioms as reasonable and scientific, others not so much wrong as obsolete.
Although eggs are indeed a good form of nourishment for new mothers, eating
too many causes a dietary imbalance and weakens the digestion. Generally
speaking, two-to-three eggs a day during zuoyuezi is
TCM advises foregoing salt for the first few days after giving birth, to avoid edema, or dropsy. But food containing salt is actually beneficial as well as tasty, because it helps regain energy lost through overactive sweat and mammary glands.
Tradition also discourages eating raw or cold foods, such as fruit and vegetables, during zuoyuezi. This is disputed by the fact that after going through labor women need to stay in bed to rest their abdominal muscles, and are consequently likely to suffer from constipation or hemorrhoids. The vitamins, mineral elements and dietary fiber in fruit and vegetables absorb sugar and protein, stimulate gastrointestinal peristalsis, thus fending off constipation as well as curbing the appetite. One piece of fruit and 50g vegetables gradually increasing to two pieces of fruit and 200g of vegetables are the recommended daily quantities.
When analyzing the principles of zuoyuezi in the historical medical context, many of its practices make sense. Avoiding bathing and brushing the teeth was to prevent water-borne diseases. Prolonged bed-rest was to promote recovery of the strength needed to care for an infant while fulfilling all other household duties.
It is clear today that low living standards and poor sanitation were at the root of zuoyuezi principles, whose purpose was to prevent postpartum complications. Today it is not only safe but advisable to take a bath two-to-three days after delivery and wash the hair seven-to-10 days later. Bathing reduces risks of folliculitis, endometritis and mastitis but the bathroom should be warm and no longer than 10 minutes should be spent in the bath. As postnatal women often have a good appetite, they should pay attention to oral health and brush their teeth, as normal, twice a day or even after every meal.
The TCM principle of staying in bed, even when eating and drinking, and
taking no exercise is inadvisable. Although new mothers need abundant and rich
nutrition they should avoid putting on weight. Adequate rest promotes strength
and muscle repair but exercise helps regain the figure as well as promote
contraction of the uterine and perineum muscles. Post partum women should get
out of bed to urinate six hours after childbirth, sit up in bed 24 hours after
delivery and do postpartum muscle training 10 days later.
Tradition also expects mothers to abstain from sex until 100 days after delivery. Today it is generally agreed that sex six-to-eight weeks after childbirth is quite safe, although women who have given birth by cesarean section should wait three months. Another TCM misconception is that it is only during zuoyuezi that mothers can be cured of ills resulting from previous postpartum complications. They should actually seek necessary treatment within the first postpartum month.
Nutritious and easily absorbed, thick soups made from chicken, pork rib, beef, pig's trotters and soybean increase the appetite and promote milk secretion.
Eggs are rich in protein, amino acids and minerals, and are conducive to digestion and absorption.
This is a porridge rich in vitamin B, dietary fiber and iron.
Red food includes brown sugar, red jujube, and red beans. Abundant in iron and calcium, they help replenish the blood and prevent asthenic cold.
Fish contains many nutrients and helps milk production. Crucian carp is the prime choice.
The high protein, iron, calcium and phosphor content of sesames seeds make them another recommended source of nourishment for postnatal women.
Fruits and Vegetables
Rich in vitamin C and minerals, fruits and vegetables help digestion and ward off constipation. As postnatal women's intestines and stomach need time to recover, however, they should eat fewer fruits and vegetables than normal.
(Source: huaiyun.pckids.com.cn / Translated by