I’m still on postpartum house arrest by Chinese tradition for the first month. When I had my first son, I was really annoyed by this and many other rules that my mom placed on me. (The no fans on near the baby drove both my husband and I nuts since it was still hovering 100 degrees that September.) In retrospect, I have a much better understanding and appreciation for the mandated “resting period” for baby and mama.
Western culture does not value rest, recuperation and relaxation. We’re such a go-go-go society (I’m rolling my eyes at that Cadillac commercial featured during the Superbowl). We see this pretty clearly with the lack of paid maternity leave and lack of vacation time compared to other developed countries. I feel bad for moms who have to return to work after just 4 or 6 weeks. That’s barely enough time to be functional again! I can guarantee that I’ll still be a [walking, semi-functional] zombie when my 12 weeks are over.
To be forced to stay home the entire first month and focus on taking care of myself and the baby is a true blessing. Practically speaking, it reduces exposure of illnesses to the baby by not taking him out and about. It’s also an adjustment period in terms of sleep and getting through the initial hurdles of breastfeeding.
What this also means is that I need lots of nutritious food on hand. My mom wasn’t able to come down to Austin to care for me like last time, so I’m very thankful that my family and friends stepped in to send us food and cook for us.
The biggest part of postpartum recovery in Chinese tradition (and other Asian cultures) is HOT foods to keep the body warm. A lot of ginger, black sesame oil and rice wine added to everything. My mom sent packets of herbs to make a soup broth that I eat with chicken or pork and noodles. Don’t ask me what’s in it because I only recognize the goji berries.
I haven’t done my research to fully understand why you need to keep the body warm, but it’s a running theme in Eastern cultures. Heat is healing. We see this with heated vinyasa classes and drinking hot teas to soothe, release toxins and aid the body’s natural processes.
Beyond the special postpartum Chinese food, we’ve gotten a lot of prepared meals to make life easier. My husband does 90% of the cooking in our house, but since we’ve had to go man-on-man in each taking care of a child, he doesn’t have the time or energy. We’ve gotten some tasty and nutritious meals from My Fit Foods and The Studio Kitchen that are fresh. Those have required someone picking up and dropping off at our house (good excuse to come see the baby, huh?).
And then, there have been the lovely surprise deliveries. Chocolate covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements? Yes, please! Freshly baked cookies delivered hot from Tiff’s Treats? I will eat them all in one breath and not even have time to Instagram them! In this day of online shopping and home delivery, I’ve really appreciated the gifts that arrive on my doorstep from friends near and far.
My best friend sent food through Greenling. I tried a delivery of fresh produce from them as a result, and it’s like someone went through the local farmer’s market and did our grocery shopping for us.
We’ll have to figure out what to do with some of the leafy greens I’ve never heard of and how to cook beets (anyone have suggestions?). In addition to the local produce, they carry other food made locally, like cheesy bread balls from Rio’s Brazilian and empanadas from mmmpanadas.
Like the blog post title says, Mama needs food. I’m thankful we have generous family and friends and so many good options in Austin for food delivery. It’s really made my “house arrest” more tolerable. Also, I’m glad my body’s making so much milk and burning calories, or I could easily be in trouble sitting at home eating all day!