"Doing the month": an exploration of postpartum practices in Chinese women

Health Care Women Int. May-Jun 1997;18(3):301-13. doi: 10.1080/07399339709516282.


An ethnographic approach was used to explore the cultural practices of Hong Kong Chinese women during the postpartum period. Seven multiparous women were interviewed and asked to reflect on their self-care practices within the family home during the month after the birth of their first child. Content analysis was applied to the interviews and major categories identified: good food and bad blood, poisonous sex, dirt and prohibitions, rest and appeasing the placenta god, and competing loyalties. The indication is that these Chinese mothers had attempted to follow their personally constructed interpretations of traditional customary practices, being influenced by close family members, neighbors, and historical precedent. These women further outlined a number of personal variations to traditional practices in the face of increasingly Western influences. We provide insights into the complexity of issues modern Hong Kong Chinese women face in the first postpartum month and on a more global level highlight the importance of culturally sensitive and congruent nursing practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China / ethnology
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Medicine, East Asian Traditional
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Postpartum Period / ethnology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transcultural Nursing