This month we explore Japan's postpartum traditions. Through the adoption of one's own postpartum traditions or acknowledging the wisdom and practices of different cultures, we can provide ourselves with support, grace and tenderness as we transition into motherhood.
Some examples of practices and rituals found as part of Japanese culture:
- Maternity leave
- Delivery of Baby
- Postpartum Period
Under the Japanese Labor law, Japanese mothers are guaranteed 6 weeks of maternity leave before the due date as well 8 weeks of maternity leave after baby arrives. If the mother wishes to return to work earlier, the mother must obtain written approval from her doctor.
'Satogaeri shussan' is a Japanese custom where the mother to be is encouraged to return to her parental family home during her last trimester and postpartum period. The family provides support through nourishing meals and guidance as she transitions from maiden to mother. This assists the new mother in overcoming any stress or anxiety associated with raising a newborn, as well as strengthening the bond between the generations.
The postpartum period is called Ansei, which is dedicated time for the mother and baby to rest and recuperate. Similar to the Traditional Chinese postpartum practices, Japanese mothers and baby are expected to be confined for the first 100 days post delivery. Mother and baby are to bond, be nourished and cared for during this time. Traditionally for the first 21 days, the baby and mother will reside at the grandparents' home. Visitors can come by and enjoy osekihan; a red bean and rice dish.
Mothers are fed Sekihan; a traditional dish that is commonly made to celebrate the arrival of baby. The sweet dish is made with adzuki beans. Mothers will commonly consume warming spices such as ginger, garlic, coriander and cinnamon which all promote healing and restore the mother. Similar to Traditional Chinese practices, Japanese mothers will be consuming warm soups and drinks. A Traditional Japanese postpartum dish given to mothers is Mochi dumplings in miso soup.
Much like Traditional Chinese customs, Japanese mothers are prohibited to showering or washing their hair for the first seven days of their postpartum journey. Some mothers avoid taking full body baths until their 1 month check up. They seek approval from doctors before they start to take a bath.
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