The Chinese postpartum care

When I had Joshua almost two years ago, my mom came all the way from Taiwan to provide me with the Chinese postpartum care treatment.  It was the first time I had to eat up all sorts very nasty tasting herbs and soups for the sake of taking care of my body after having a baby.

Did I really benefit from it?  I am not sure if I can tell.  But, I guess it’s better for me to believe in the system than to totally ignore thousands of years of wisdom and tradition.  So I asked my mom to come here again to help me out this time with the birth of Savanna.

The basic idea of the Chinese postpartum care is that you need to take very good care of your body for 30 days after giving birth, and it’s supposed to help build the foundation of a healthy life after having your baby.

In order to achieve the objective of taking care of your body, you’re supposed to:

1. Not wash your hair or shower for 30 days.

2. Not leave the house for 30 days.

3. Not lift anything heavy, or read the newspaper, or watch TV, or use your computer, or read books for 30 days.

4. Be in a very good mood, get lots of sleep, and have others help take care of you and your baby.

5. Eat all sorts of Chinese herbal soups and brews, made with Chinese rice wine, chicken, liver, pig feet, peanuts, dates, goji berries, ginger, brown sugar, etc.

There are purposes to all the things you are supposed to do.  The basic idea is that you cannot afford to get sick with a cold or flu, you must rest as much as possible, and you must eat all the herbal soups and brews to rid the toxins in your body and put in proper nutrients.

So am I going to follow all the principals?  Uh, NO!  If I can’t shower or wash my hair for 30 days, I may as well be dead now.  Anyway, the only one principal I’m sticking to is the last one: the herbal soups and brews.

To make all the soups and brews, we need a HUGE amount of Chinese rice wine.  The rice wine is a base for all the liquids I have to drink in the next 30 days, including soups and teas.  Rice wine is easy to come by when you’re in Asia, but here in Canada all the rice wine has been salted due to government regulations and you can’t use that for the herbal soups.  It’s not easy to find unsalted rice wine.  Essentially, we had to buy it underground.

Yup, that’s right, underground Chinese rice wine.  Just like the prohibition days!

Once we got the rice wine, we have to cook it and reduce it down by 50%, which is referred to as the “rice wine water”.  The rice wine water is then used to cook all my herbal soups and teas.  We bought a bunch of gallon glass jars to store the rice wine water, and my apartment smells like alcohol!

In the next 30 days, I’m going to be eating up 80 litres of rice wine.  That’s right, people, EIGHTY LITRES.  I am going to be drunk the next 30 years!


When you cook the rice wine to reduce it to “rice wine water”, most of the alcohol has evaporated.  When you further cook the soups and teas, it reduces the alcohol even more, so there’s barely any left by the time I ingest it.

That jar of white stuff on the far right is fermented rice in rice wine.  I’m supposed to eat that as dessert.

Are you jealous of my life yet?  Are you?  Are you?

I bought the Chinese herbs when we were in Taiwan last time.  They were already packaged for each type of soup or tea.  All I have to do is soak the packages in the rice wine water, cook/brew the soup or tea, and eat it up.  It is the modern convenience of a traditional torture.

Here’s a picture of one of the packages of herbal soups soaking in the rice wine water.  This is THE WORST tasting one.  I can’t even describe how bad it is.  It’s all sorts of bitter and nasty tasting herbs combined.  I made some tonight in preparation for the next week.  I offered some to Cliff just so he can have a taste of what I have to go through.  After one sip, he said he really appreciate all the hard work I have to go through and sacrifices I have to make to have our baby and he’s going to work his butt off for the rest of his life to treat me like a queen.

So there you have it.  That’s what I’ve been busy with for the past couple of days.  Cooking down rice wine to rice wine water, and making nasty tasting herbal soups.  If you come visit, I’d totally offer you some too.


22 thoughts on “The Chinese postpartum care

  1. Haha! My mom gave me some old Lao wives tips and tricks but it wasnt nearly as extensive and exhausting as the Taiwanese method!

    One of the methods I loathed was drinking this warm drink because “Humnoy wasn’t getting enough milk.” I was super engorged and made plenty of milk! Have no idea what was in that drink to this day…

    Love this; I tweeted it.

      • Thanks! I do have a question tgohuh in my blog I can’t seem to put individual pictures side-by-side like you have here. I can either put in a gallery for multiple pictures, or individual pictures need to be aligned vertically. What’s your secret?(On my more recent post it looks like I have pictures next to each other, tgohuh in reality it’s one picture overall in which I put several together in photoshop)

  2. I’m not blessed with children yet, but in my Hmong culture, we also practice a 30 day postpartum care. In my culture, after a woman gives birth, she can only eat boiled chicken with rice and drink hot water; she has to bind her belly with a long cloth to help the uterus shrink back to its regular size- it also helps lose the baby fat; and keep her body warm (e.i. wear a hat). Just to name a few things. There’s other things that goes with the Hmong postpartum care. It’s quite interesting what cultures around the world do for postpartum care. Thanks for sharing your blog post! I’m also following you now so I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Yes, I’m supposed to wrapped my belly in a 5′ long cloth as well. I think I’m going to take the lazy route and use a belly band that I can just slip on instead. 🙂


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