There’s an ancient Chinese trend catching on again with new mothers - spending an entire month in confinement after their baby is born. For 30 days, new moms don’t see their husbands, don’t go outside, take baths, wash their hair, brush their teeth, or do anything that would expose them to new germs. According to USA Today, confinement dates back thousands of years, and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine say the month after a baby’s born is crucial, because new mothers are especially vulnerable to health problems. They call confinement “cho yuet” which translates to “sitting through the month.”
Even 50 years ago, a mother-in-law might move in to take care of the baby and the new mom. Today, with families so spread out, more and more young women are hiring a “confinement lady,” a pro who does everything from change diapers to cook special meals for the mother. In fact, hiring a “confinement lady” has become the new status symbol in some places. Experts point out that confinement was logical at one time, because it helped mothers avoid illnesses and communicable diseases, but today it’s not necessary.
Dr. Laura Castleman is a member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s committee on global women’s health. She says there’s absolutely no evidence that staying inside, not washing, and not brushing your teeth benefits a new mother. In fact, not brushing your teeth and avoiding baths could spread harmful bacteria to the baby. Bottom line: Hire someone to help you out with the new baby if you’d like, but if you want to take a shower or go outside, go for it.