Monday, March 22, 2010

Thoughts on Ge Lai

I remember I used to argue with my mother about the ge lai (one month confinement after childbirth) after I gave birth to my firstborn. She assumed I knew the rules -- I should not bathe/shower for the whole duration, I should wear long sleeved shirts and long pants as well as socks so that "wind" won't enter my system, and I could only eat certain foods. I didn't know, so I wasn't prepared at all. I balked at the thought that I couldn't take a bath, because I felt that was unsanitary and here I was, breastfeeding a baby. According to tradition, new mothers had to follow these rules so that they maintain their health and avoid the back and joint pains that would invariably occur if we're older if we didn't.

The second time around, I didn't argue anymore. I had my hair cut short so that I would not have to bother with it too much -- no need to style and less need to shampoo. I went along with the food restrictions. (It was a good thing foods served during this time were delicious, so I had no issues with them). I still have a difficult time with not taking baths, but I just adjusted and washed as needed and without telling (and arguing) with my mother.

I just thought to myself that the rules were supposed to be about taking care of me, so there were good intentions. My mother just imposed these because she loved me and wanted me not to suffer. :)