My mother-in-law is one of the most industrious individuals I know. She has worked extremely hard her entire life. She navigated the war-time in Vietnam and courageously escaped with my husband and two of his brothers. She now has a huge vegetable garden and an orchard and does two hours of Vietnamese martial arts every day. It was this woman who encouraged me to rest and be taken care of when my daughter was born.
When I was pregnant for the second time, I knew I wanted to have a really different postpartum experience then I had with my first. I wanted to fully recover before jumping back into the full swing of life -especially with two to mother. I began to read about traditional practices from around the world and felt deeply inspired by the ways that women are honored and cared for.
I called up my mother-in-law and asked about traditional Vietnamese postpartum practices. She told me that in the old days, women went home to live with their own mothers for a three month long rest period. She explained ways of warming the body: coals placed under the bed, avoiding cold foods, cold weather, and bathing. She spoke of not eating sour foods and drinking rice wine. She described steamed rice ball massage or “cooking the milk” for the breasts as the milk is coming in. With each concept she finished with “for making you strong in your old age.”
I am so struck by this idea that our rest and care in the postpartum time affects our long term health.
And my mother-in-law is, to this day, healthy and strong.
When my daughter was born, she was with us for five days cooking delicious Vietnamese meals and tending to me. When she was saying good bye, she told me to let my husband take good care of me. It meant so much to me, as I say in bed with my newborn, to have this strong and industrious woman tell me to rest.
If you are interested in learning more about traditional postpartum practices check out my pinterest board traditional postpartum practices .