A report on The World discusses the Chinese tradition called “zuo yue zi“, when women enter a month of bed rest with their babies after giving birth. Ruth Morris reports that in China’s expanding confinement centers, priced at $13,000 for thirty days, moms spend all day in bed and avoid strangers, cold water, and air conditioning. Their diets include items like cold seafood, pig feet stew, liver, kidneys, porridge, and lots of eggs. Morris explains that this is a “tradition that many Chinese women still observe” and that entrepreneurs in Shanghai “have come up with a confinement spa to make that month a little easier, at least for affluent new mothers.” Listen to the report here:
As the New York Times reported in 2011, confinement centers for women have also sprouted up around the United States in the past couple of years:
To Western ears, confinement sounds like something out of a Victorian novel, but in some traditional Asian cultures, women still spend the month after a baby’s birth in pampered seclusion. Typically, a woman’s relatives would care for her, but more recently, the practice has been outsourced to postpartum doulas and confinement centers, like the one Ms. Lu operates. In the United States, they cater to middle-class immigrant women separated from their families. Business is steady enough in New York City to support at least four postpartum centers, tucked away in the heavily Asian-immigrant neighborhoods of Flushing and Bayside, Queens.
The centers largely fly below the radar of English-language authorities — they advertise online or in Chinese-language publications. They make up such a niche market that city and state authorities did not know they even existed. Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the state Health Department, said that as long as the centers were not offering medical services, they would not require a license. A spokeswoman for the city Health Department said that it had no information on the centers.[Source]