“Mother Roasting” is the tradition of keeping a postpartum mother warmed and wrapped during the 40-44 day confinement period. Family members, generally the mother or mother in law and other close female relatives, take over the woman’s household duties and she is left to focus solely on resting, keeping warm, and bonding and feeding her new baby.
In some cultures, such as certain villages in Laos, the mother actually lies over a slatted bed layered in medicinal herbs and leaves, while coals burns below it. This is where the “roasting” term comes from. The mother follows a strict daily routine of hot baths, steams, and roasting, while eating and drinking only “warming” foods to bring heat and balance back to the body. Ancient Mayan traditions of postpartum vaginal steaming as still used in some countries, and are becoming more popular.
Both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicines see birth as a “cooling” process, where heat is lost through the loss of fluids, blood, and separating the physical connection from the baby. It is essential to restore this heat to keep the body in balance and avoid illnesses and post natal depression.
Strict food guidelines are followed, allowing only warm, fresh, oily foods with and emphasis on “warming” herbs and spices. Cold foods and drinks are to be avoided at all costs. Dates, fresh almonds and almond milk (often boiled with warming spices such as cardamom, turmeric, and saffron) are featured heavily in Ayurvedic postpartum care, along with bland foods such as kitchari, congees, and dahls while the sensitive GI tract regains it’s balance. The immediate postpartum period is not the time to diet, and your body is still in it’s sensitive fourth trimester changes and needs nourishment.
Warming teas are encouraged to be drunk throughout the day. Chai, milk tonic, lactation tea and postpartum herbal teas are recommended. Caffeine should still be avoided. Commercial tea brands suitable are Yogi Tea’s Rooibos Chai, India Spice, Nursing Support, or Aztec Chilli Tea, and Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Milk Maid Tea or Monthly Comfort tea, or Mountain Rose Herb’s Nurse Me Rhyme Tea.
The rest, break from household duties, and dedicated bonding time with baby allow for a relaxed recovery for the postpartum mother. The first week should be spent lying in bed, skin to skin with the newborn. Doing too much too soon is frowned upon, and in some cultures leaving the house even for a small walk around the block is forbidden. The importance of resting can’t be underestimated! This article by Gloria Lemay is excellent. The bonding is also important for healthy attachment for the baby. In Bali, babies literally do not touch the ground for 105 days after birth, after which there is a ceremony marking this first occasion.
The end of the confinement period is often marked with rituals such as ceremonial bathing, naming ceremonies, and welcoming back into the community.
Lacey Bashir and Sacred Mother Bengkung are not licensed medical providers. The recommendations on this website are not intended to treat, prevent, diagnose or cure disease. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Contact your licensed medical provider prior to use of any products or services advertised on this website.