Around the World Series | Traditional Nepalese Postpartum Practices

In challenging times after childbirth, cultural traditions bring families together, offering unique ways to care for new mums and babies. While some practices may need adjustment for better health outcomes, understanding and respecting these traditions enriches the journey of motherhood. By bridging medical knowledge with cultural wisdom, we can ensure every mum and baby receives the best care possible, tailored to their cultural needs.

"Sutkeri" is a traditional practice observed among Hindu Nepalis, particularly during the postpartum period. It involves a confinement period of forty days after a woman gives birth. During this time, the woman is considered ritually impure and requires special care and attention from her community. Despite the initial perception of confinement, this period actually serves as a time for communal support and nurturing, ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the newborn.



In Nepal, food practices during the postnatal period involve special attention to nutritious meals and the use of Ayurvedic medicine. New mothers are given a special diet, including "kwati," a soup made from various beans with meat. Some Tamang women mention "dahi-chyura" (curd and beaten rice with meat curry) as postnatal food. Mothers also receive "gudpakh," a sweet cake rich in calories made from flour, clarified butter, cashew nuts, and coconut.
Additionally, newborn babies in Nepal are given "janma ghuti" (a commercial Ayurvedic medicine for digestion), "balmrita" (herbal Ayurvedic medicine), "jaiphal" (nutmeg), and various herbs and spices. Traditional healers use these as medicines for the baby's well-being.
Also, some Nepali mums shared that they have a special diet after giving birth, with foods like jhol, a kind of buttery broth, to help them recover and produce breast milk. 


They breastfeed their babies for about three years, and it's normal to see mums feeding their kids in public. Nepali women often talk openly about breastfeeding.

Hot Oil Massage

 In the first week after having a baby, Nepali families take them to the hospital to meet friends and neighbors. People usually ask if the baby is wearing a hat for protection.
During the postpartum time, Nepali mums don't cook. They go back to their mum's house, where female relatives help out with cooking and other chores. Men usually don't visit the newborn or help with cooking.
After giving birth, both mums and babies get hot oil massages to keep their skin healthy, especially since babies are often wrapped up.

Naming Ceremony
In Nepal, on the 11th day following a baby's birth, the Nwaran ceremony is held, also known as the naming ceremony.
During this event, a priest visits the family's home to assign a name to the child based on their birth details and corresponding horoscope. As a result, Nepali children typically have two names: their horoscope name and their given name.
Pasni Ceremony
In Nepal, the Pasni ceremony, also known as the weaning ceremony, is celebrated within five months for girls and six months for boys after birth. During this event, the child is fed rice and various traditional foods for the first time, marking an important milestone.
Family members come together on this day to exchange gifts and blessings, making it a joyous occasion. Rice holds significant cultural importance in Nepal, and by feeding rice to the child, it symbolises their entry into social life with their staple food.

Beliefs About the Placenta

There is a belief that the future health of the child depends on how the placenta is disposed of. It is said that the placenta should be buried and not eaten by crows or insects. If this occurs, it is thought that the child may become sick. 

Resting After Childbirth in Nepal

After giving birth, Nepalese women typically take time to rest, which varies in length among different social groups. A significant milestone is when the new mother can leave her in-laws’ home (usually after 30 days) to stay with her parents for a few days to a month. During this period, her nutrition becomes crucial.

Some women mentioned that in the past, they would return to household duties soon after giving birth, but now they are allowed to rest in their in-laws’ home. One elderly woman described this period, saying that the new mother is allowed to return to the kitchen on the 9th day after childbirth. She is then sent to her mother’s home around 10-15 days after birth and can stay there as long as she likes, sometimes up to a month. During this time, both the baby and mother receive massages, usually with mustard oil to relax muscles and help the baby's growth.

Similarities in Birth Rituals and Beliefs in Nepal and China

The first ritual after birth is important in both China and Nepal. It brings families together for harmony in society.
Giving gifts is a common practice in both countries. Even though the specific celebration days may differ, traditions like naming and weaning ceremonies are significant in both places.
These customs have been passed down from ancestors and hold great importance in both countries. China and Nepal are neighboring countries with shared cultures and traditions.
Although they have different languages and customs, both civilisations value following traditions, honoring mothers, and socialising children.


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