In many cultures, new mothers often stay home and take a month-long break to rest and recuperate. Although postnatal women were traditionally advised to not wash their hair or brush their teeth (which, to be fair, could have caused illness in the days when clean water was hard to come by), those restrictions are no longer as popular. Other restrictions, such as a getting a reprieve from household chores or eating copious amounts of nutritious food, still are.
The Latin American tradition, called la cuarentena, encourages postpartum women to rest, eat certain foods (like chicken soup) and avoid other foods (like overtly spicy dishes) for 40 days. In China, the tradition is called zuoyuezi (or "doing the month"), and mothers of newborns are advised to eat hearty fare, such as chicken, eggs and ginger, and to avoid going outdoors for a month [sources: Tuhus-Dubrow; Buchan].
In both cultures, family members or close friends take over household duties while postpartum women recoup. Although for many modern women these aren't entirely practical traditions, it does offer food for thought -- especially if you're pondering how busy you'll be in just a few months when your baby becomes mobile.
- Baby Center. "Baby Showers Around the World." (Feb. 7, 2012) http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-showers-around-the-world_9332.bc?page=1
- Buchan, Noah. "Doing the Month." Taipei Times. Nov. 12, 2006. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2006/11/12/2003336078
- Design Editor. "Baby Week: Card Keepsake Project." July 14, 2010. (Feb. 7, 2012) http://designeditor.typepad.com/design_editor/2010/07/baby-week-card-keepsake-project.html
- Maglaty, Jeanne. "When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?" Smithsonian. April 8, 2011. (Feb. 13, 2012) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html?c=y&page=1
- McKinley, Amanda. "Passport to Pregnancy: Traditions from Around the World." Pregnancy and Newborn. (Feb. 11, 2012) http://www.pnmag.com/pregnancy-lifestyle/friends-family/passport-pregnancy-traditions-around-world
- Rich, Tracy R. "Birth and the First Month of Life." Judaism 101. (Feb. 7, 2012) http://www.jewfaq.org/birth.htm
- Sehdev, Paul S. "The Origin of Quarantine." Clinical Infectious Diseases. Vol. 35, no. 9. Page 1071. 2002. (Feb. 14, 2012) http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/9/1071.full
- Tuhus-Dubrow, Rebecca. "Why Won't This New Mom Wash her Hair?" April 11, 2011. (Feb. 7, 2012) http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/04/why_wont_this_new_mom_wash_her_hair.html
What are good traditions for families during the summer? Read about 5 summertime family traditions at HowStuffWorks.