The First Month... Chinese Style!

The first month of having a baby in the house is supposedly one of the most difficult times that you can have as a new parent… or even as an experienced parent. This definitely WASN’T the case with us, for the simple reason that my wife is Chinese and we went the traditional route of having a YueSao.  A YueSao is a magical woman whose sole job is to look after mother and baby in the first month of homecoming. In my case, she also looked after me! When I tell people in the Western World what happens during this month I usually hear loud gasps and see jaws dropping to the floor, firstly because of the madness that goes on in the month due to tradition and the other reason people are astounded is the sheer sense of relaxation that comes with the helping hand! So, what are these mad traditions you ask? Zuò yuèzi is the Chinese Term to ‘sit for a month’. In Chinese culture after a baby is born, you do as little as you can to help your body get back to full health, and in the case of a C Section it is a wonderful (for the Dad!) 2-month period. During this time the mother & baby can’t wash (yes, I said it… you CAN’T wash. Not even a little! Unless you bathe in alcohol but who has a gallon of Poitin just lying around!) While in Western culture, right after the birth (and even sometimes during the birth) hot/cold showers are what’s needed, Chinese culture is very different.
  • The mother is not allowed cold water (not to drink, not to wash with, she can’t even come into contact with it!)
  • She is not allowed Air Conditioning, either hot or Cold (because apparently ‘wind ghosts’ are a real thing!?)
  • No open Windows… See above (and feel yourself starting to become very concerned about what ‘wind ghosts’ actually are!?)
  • No leaving the house… also See Above (maybe we are supposed to be keeping the ‘wind ghosts’ company?)
  So, what does this wonderful lady (I’ve never heard of a man becoming a YueSao, but would love to see one. However, I can see why women might prefer not to have a guy involved!) do for the couple…
  • Prepare the baby’s room
  • Prepares 3 meals a day for Mommy (nutritional with plenty of soup! There are soups that encourage lactation apparently)
  • Teaches you the nappy ritual (She was very Zen about the whole thing)
  • Teaches you baby massage (I was treating the baby like a canister of VX gas, worried she might break!)
  • Feed the baby bottles if the baby isn’t breast feeding… but if it is she takes the baby from the crib to the boob and back again!
  • Winds the baby after feeding (Again, very Zen, only upward stroking movements)
  • Puts the baby back down
  • Helps with ALL the night feeds (keeps a monitor in her room!)
  • Sends the husband to the spare room because… “We don’t all need to be up!” (Heaven!)
  • Bathes the baby and teaches you how to do it (covering the belly button at all times… those 'pesky wind' ghosts again!)
  • Massages the boob to ensure there is no blockage (on a serious note… I am sure she prevented a case of mastitis one night when she got the hot towels out and, like a plumber for boobs, had that milk duct clear in no time… although it doesn't sound serious we were very worried and she was amazing that night!)
  • Comforts the baby and shows the parents how to comfort a child
  • Moans that you are not doing it right! (Especially me… in fact ONLY me! I was only allowed hold a sleeping baby!)
  • Brings the baby in and out to see visitors (this was great for us… we got to chat to everyone, then Mary Poppins would dress the baby for guests, give her to you and then when there was a cry swoop in and take her out and in a few minutes bring back a relaxed baby!)
  • Sends the husband to work because he’s useless!! (that one might just be for me!)
Basically, a YueSao does all the things that a husband should do for his wife after she gives birth but these are the things his wife thinks he might slip up on… again, that might just be me!! Is it worth it? Abso-fecking-lutely!! Hahaha When this Mary Poppins of the Chinese world left us we had a baby that took a boob or a bottle (this is when I started to be useful), she also ensured that my darling wife didn’t end up back in hospital with Mastitis, that our baby slept through the night, we were finally masters of the bath time routine, our bellies were ALWAYS full and we thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 months with Jade without the stress of thinking to ourselves “What are we supposed to do?”, “Are we doing this right?” or “How the F@£K does this work?” Instead, our own personal Poppins disappeared leaving behind 3 pretty cool calm and collected customers. Well, until the first bout of crying where Jade was fed, changed and burped with the confidence of two supercalifragilisticexpialidocious parents!