Effect of postpartum practices of doing the month on Chinese women's physical and psychological health

Biol Res Nurs. 2014 Jan;16(1):55-63. doi: 10.1177/1099800412465107. Epub 2012 Nov 5.


The purpose of the study was to describe Chinese women's postpartum physiological and psychological health and adherence to "doing-the-month" practices. A descriptive repeated measures design was used, with data collected at 3 days and 6 weeks postpartum. The convenience sample consisted of 198 healthy childbearing women with a term birth. Maternal physical health was measured by the Six-Minute Walk (endurance), Chair Stand test (muscle strength), severity of physical symptoms, and physical health subscales of SF36v2. Maternal psychological health was measured by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale. Adherence was measured by the Adherence to Doing-the-Month Practices questionnaire. Aerobic endurance and lower-body muscle strength improved significantly across time (p < .001) but remained suboptimal for maternal age. Women who delivered by Cesarean section had significantly poorer physical health than those who had a vaginal delivery. Physical functioning significantly increased, but general health and role limitations due to physical health significantly decreased over time. Postpartum physical symptoms decreased in number and severity. Depression increased over time (p < .001). Adherence to doing the month was negatively correlated with aerobic endurance and positively correlated with depression at 6 weeks (p < .05). These findings challenge the assumption that practices of doing the month are healthy for Chinese women's recovery after childbirth. Research-based evidence needs to be integrated into doing-the-month practices. Education of Chinese women and families, whether living at home or abroad, is needed about the adverse health effects of doing the month. Routine screening for postpartum depression is also advised.

Keywords: Chinese culture; depression; inactivity; physical activity; postpartum; postpartum practices; symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Postpartum Period*