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December 07, 2011

Korean Post-Partum Care Traditions

Today i got a text from a good friend... she just had a baby and was warning me - depending on how traditional my mom was going to be - about what to expect with my post partum care. You see as with any culture, there are certain traditions, superstitions and wives' tales that moms will pass on to their daughters. Seeing as the Husband and I are not of the same culture, I was prepared for this and already quizzed my mother about what kind of hell on earth she was planning to put me through... luckily for me, her response was simple "you are a smart girl, i know you do your own research and will do what you need to make sure you and the baby get the appropriate post partum care needed." Jigga what?

She also tried to tell me she was only hanging out for about 10-14 days post baby!!! Double JIGGA WHA??  Well, to prove her wrong, we booked her a flight to be here from January 24 (6 days before estimated due date) until February 27...just in case baby is really late, i want my mom time. I mean who else can take care of me the way my mom can!!! Serves her right!

Anyways, this is very Atypical of Korean moms, when it comes to traditions and superstitions, even the best of them follow them strictly... and here are a few things that I won't be missing out on...
  • Restrict cold air from touching the mom's body post-partum. Any cold air, regardless of the temperature outside. I.e., No air conditioning, no opening of refrigerators.
    In many non-Western cultures, blood is considered "hot." Therefore, after giving birth, when the woman has lost blood she is considered to be in a cold state. Accordingly, postpartum care in these cultures is aimed at keeping the new mother warm; it is believed that this will restore her humoral balance. Source
  • Mom must stay covered up. This includes pants, socks all the time all day, every day. (Mom's ligaments/joints are looser, less stable - keep them warm to protect her)
  • Do not touch or eat anything cold. (Mom's teeth and gums are weaker, so to protect them, avoid the cold)
  • Avoid hard and crunchy foods. (same reason as above)
  • Do not shower for at least a week.
  • Mother is to stay indoors/confinement for at least 21 days (samchilil) and have a special caretaker to assist with household duties. The mother should not do a single thing but rest and be cared for - I dig this and its not too far off what the midwives advised me which is 14 days.
  • Baby does not go anywhere until his/her 100 day (Baek Il) and only immediate family can see baby until then as well. (Due to the high # of deaths back in the day) - this is more outdated and not as often followed today.
  • Eat a lot of Miyuk Guk - Traditional Korean Seaweed Soup- I will be doing this and happily so!
    The belief is that it cleanses the body and assists in contracting the uterus Source
Those are just a few that i've been told of, but my mom says she trusts me to do as I see fit.
So I plan to
  • stay comfortable, not cold or hot. It will be winter time, so i'm sure we will be bundled up regardless, but i'm quite aware the appropriate temp is about 67-72 degrees in our condo to avoid SIDS, so the baby and I will be comfy regardless temperature wise.
  • eat Miyukguk b/c i like it and i know it will assist in providing nutrients and healing properties. it also should help with breastfeeding.
  • Rest the full 14 days as the midwives advised... seeing how i feel, maybe it'll go 21 days :)  That's right, no laundry, no dishes, no food prep ... NOTHING. Just rest and care for the baby.
Did your family or culture pass on any traditions to you about what you should do for post partum care? Any advice you actually plan to take? Ignore?

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard about any specific traditions unique to my heritage, but it's fascinating to read about yours! I definitely agree with the overall goals of being comfortable and getting as much rest as you can!

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