I was drawn to the book Sitting Moon: A Guide to Natural Rejuvenation After Pregnancy at the library. It has in part to do with the professional-looking cover with a white background, as well as the sub-title: ‘Natural Rejuvenation’. Natural is always good, I thought. Another factor probably has to do the cover image of an Asian woman having a private moment with a baby on her lap.
What a peculiar title, I pondered. It did not occur to me until I read the Preface that ‘Sitting Moon’ is the literal translation ofZuo Yue Zi in Chinese, which means resting for one cycle of the moon (four weeks). It went on to explain that Zuo Yue Zi is often passed down orally from the senior women in the family down to the younger female generation. During the precious month immediately after the delivery of the baby, mother and newborn stay indoors and are secluded from society in order to aid the full recovery of the mother. She is expected to rest as well as recuperate from her delivery by being replenished with nutritious foods and herbs.
Previously I had tried to explain to my Caucasian husband what Zuo Yue Zi was. He had never heard of such a thing and questioned if I was trying to avoid performing my share of the work once we had a baby. One month! he exclaimed, shaking his head. What will you do? Rest, I retorted.
I knew how important the first postpartum month was, having heard stories, at times heart-wrenching, from friends of how their bodies never recovered fully after the delivery of their child. Yet here I was, a Chinese, who could not tell him how exactly he could best support me. It was all hearsay.
I finished the book in one sitting. There it all was, as plain as day: a book that provides women with information on how to prepare for a new child and how to have a healthy postpartum period. It combines Western knowledge with health-building tools of the East such as acupressure, Chinese nutrition and chi movement exercise. The book goes on to cover what physical changes a new mother might expect, common ailments and how to help heal them, qi gong, acupressure, meditation, and exercise. It includes recipes for the first four weeks after birth and meal plans, as well as resources at the back of the book. I would say it is a must-have resource for professionals involved in taking care of new mothers.
You may call the practice of Zuo Yue Zi hocus-pocus, superstition or folk legend. I prefer to call it ancient wisdom. I started drinking herbal drinks brewed by traditional Chinese medical shops a few years ago when I was plagued with dry coughs, almost annually, that would not go away. Herbal drinks worked where months of western medication did not. Much as I used to frown upon certain Asian practices for being too ‘Chinese’ and even turned my back on some Chinese customs, I cannot deny I am Chinese. When the time comes for me to become a mother, I do want to have a Zuo Yue Zi and the book ‘Sitting Moon’ is an excellent resource.
About the Author
Daoshing Ni, D.O.M., L.Ac., Ph.D., Dipl. C.H., holds a doctorate in oriental medicine and is co-founder of Tao of Wellness, a traditional Chinese medical practice, where he specializes in reproductive and gynecological medicine. He also cofounded Yo San University and a clinical doctoral program in oriental reproductive medicine. Jessica Chen, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., ABORM, is an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine nutritionist with a focus on nutrition, fertility, and maternal health. She practices Chinese medicine at Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, California.