Sunday October 15, 2017

New mothers are embracing the ancient Chinese tradition of 'sitting the month'

A mother and her baby on a bed in a maternity ward at Antai Hospital in Beijing.

A mother and her baby on a bed in a maternity ward at Antai Hospital in Beijing. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

Listen 17:53

In some ways, it's a new mother's dream. For a full month after giving birth, she is waited on hand and foot.

Someone else cooks all the food, cleans the house, takes care of the newborn. All she has to do is rest, recover, be pampered, eat well, feed the baby.

That's the easy — almost luxurious — part of an ancient Chinese tradition called Zuo Yuezi  or "Sitting the Month."

Sitting the Month

Wanchen Sun with her husband Geoff Bouchard, their son Daniel and their 1-month-old daughter Melody. (Lu Zhou/CBC)

It doesn't stop there. There are strict rules about hot and cold, meals with pig's feet and papaya. There's no full bathing or hair-washing for thirty days. 

And the idea is to stay indoors the whole time.

That part? Not so easy to take.

Sitting the month

Nikki Wai with her husband Cedric Wai and their 11-day-old daughter Abby. (Lu Zhou/CBC)

But every year, thousands of new mothers in Canada choose this 30-day confinement. 

And their numbers are growing. 

Click 'listen' above to hear Lu Zhou's documentary "Sitting the Month."

This documentary was made through the CBC's Doc Project Mentorship Program