17 January

Postpartum practices in India and around the world

You have delivered a baby, and I am sure you are overwhelmed looking at your bundle of joy, You may be tired and emotionally strained. but all is not over. Postpartum care or care after delivery is most important in regaining your strength back. Post delivery, the mother should spend her time mostly on taking care of herself and her baby, while she gets help from her mother, spouse friends to take care of everything else for her. This is the time for her to recuperate. Her body has gone through enormous changes during pregnancy, both physically and emotionally.

There have been changes in the levels of hormones, her blood volume and her entire body system.  Giving some time off from daily chores and taking rest, gives the body time to get its old energy and vigor back.

The first few weeks after delivery can also be very overwhelming in terms of taking care of a new life whose needs you may not understand. There could be nights of no sleep and anxiety over questions and thoughts like -  why the baby is crying or is the baby drinking enough milk and Is he or she sleeping too much or too less. While all these may seem big, you will slowly learn to take care of it

POSTPARTUM CARE IS IMPORTANT

The post-partum period is usually six to eight weeks from the day of your delivery. This period is considered as a highly sensitive period a great emphasis is placed on encouraging fast healing, boosting immunity, and improving the production of milk.

Indian Postpartum care

In India, in most cultures, women are confined for anywhere from 40 to 60 days. The New mother usually goes to her maternal house, as it is felt that she is more comfortable there.  Mothers are encouraged to take rest and catch some sleep when the baby is asleep. There are also many dietary restrictions for the new mother. Some cold foods and raw vegetables are avoided as it is believed that they can catch a cold. Oil massages are given to both at the mother and the baby, however, in the event of a C-section massage in the area around the stitches is avoided.  Tummy of the new mother is bound tightly with a cotton cloth. This is usually done to help in toning up the abdominal muscles which have been stretched during pregnancy. These days there are many pregnancy belts which are available commercially which are far more comfortable. Special foods are given to the mother which are thought to increase the production of breast milk. Mothers are usually encouraged to eat foods which are easily digestible. Some postpartum Indian diets include ladoos, parathas, and kheers which are prepared with broken wheat, ajwain, methi, millet, besan, fennel, gond (edible gum taken from the bark of trees) dry fruits, sesame, semolina, aliv seeds, turmeric, and fenugreek. Ghee is also added to almost every item that is prepared for the mother. Turmeric milk and garlic milk are also given to the mother. Mother is given a bath with water which is boiled with turmeric pieces, tamarind leaves, and neem leaves. Turmeric powder is applied to the whole body.

SOME INTERESTING POSTPARTUM CULTURES AROUND THE WORLD

In many countries in latin America - women confine themselves for 6 weeks and abstain from sex, certain foods and any strenuous activity. During this time, they solely dedicate themselves to breastfeeding and taking care of the baby. Other members of the family often pitch in with cooking, cleaning and watching the rest of the children.

In Bali, there is an ancient tradition of burying the placenta, an organ which is considered alive and almost like a sibling of the newborn baby. The placenta is cleaned and later buried outside the house

In Japan, childbirth and postpartum care are very important and the new mother is usually in her maternal house and is expected to rest and take care of the baby, while the other members of the family help out with the chores of the house. The Netherlands: Home Birthing

In the Netherlands almost 20% of the births happen at home and the new mother will get the assistance of a nurse who will come home and help her with taking care of herself and also help in bonding with her baby, The nurse almost acts as a liaison between the new mother and the doctor. Her presence gives the mother enough time to recuperate during the first 6 weeks.

Turkey: Lohusa Serbeti

In Turkey, it is traditional for new mothers to drink Lohusa Serbeti, a beverage made with cinnamon, sugar and red food coloring. It is first served to the new mom in the hospital and then is enjoyed at home by guests who come to pay the new infant a visit.

Nigeria: Baby’s First Bath

Nigerians follow a tradition called Omugwo, which simply refers to postpartum care.  In Omugwo, the grandmother gives the baby his or her first bath, if she is available. If the grandmother is not around, an aunt or close friend may step in. This small gesture shows the mother that she is not alone in childrearing, and the community of women will rally around her.

United States: The Baby Blanket

Newborn babies born in America are wrapped with the same kind of blanket, no matter where they are born. This blanket is known as a Kuddle up the blanket and was started to change the drab blanket found in American hospitals. This blanket has become the symbol of the miracle of birth all over America.

Tanzania

Three months after the birth of her child, the Chagga woman’s head is shaved and crowned with a beaded tiara, she is robed in an ancient skin garment worked with beads, a staff such as the elders carry is put in her hand, and she emerges from her hut for her first public appearance with her baby. Proceeding slowly towards the market, they are greeted with songs such as are sung to warriors returning from battle. She and her baby have survived the weeks of danger. The child is no longer vulnerable, but a baby who has learned what love means has smiled its first smiles and is now ready to learn about the bright, loud world outside (Dunham, 1992; p. 148).

In Mexico, Traditionally, women have forty days of recuperation after delivery while the family makes home remedies to cleanse the impurities of birth. It is believed that Post-Partum Depression will not occur if the home remedies are taken. The moms are cared for by their female family members, but the new mom is expected to care for her own baby. After birth, the moms are not supposed to shower for several days or get out of bed for several hours. The moms usually eat very light, and most breastfeed their babies.

China

In China, during the post-delivery period, the women are made to rest strictly for 30 days. There are many rules including not being able to eat raw fruits and vegetables or bathe. The main objective of all this is to restore the mother’s yin and yang after childbirth and to strengthen the baby. Moms are served lactation-inducing soups and broths and aren’t permitted to eat or drink anything cold. 

Korea

In Korea, the postpartum period is usually 100 days.  Seaweed soups are fed to the new mothers.

 

References:

https://womenshealthtoday.blog/2017/07/30/how-cultures-protect-the-new-mother/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/world-birthing-traditions_n_7033790.html

http://www.birtharts.com/pregnancy-birth-post-partum-in-different-cultures-student-article/

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Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 13:01
Dr Padma

Dr Padma is a Family care physician and is the Founder and CEO of MedHealthTV.

www.medhealthtv.com

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