Birth – of a new mother

Mother Roasting

What is this? A worldwide practice of warming mums immediately after giving birth and in the weeks that follow. It is very important to  keep wind and cold from entering. The Chinese call it zuo yuezi. The Vietnamese, nam lua in. Mother Roasting.

It is simply the practice of keeping a woman warm immediately after birth and in the first few weeks following birth. Cross-culturally, it is believed to seal up emotional, physical, and spiritual gateways that have been opened by birth. It is a way of protecting a woman’s body, her newborn, and, as a result, nourish her back into being.

In cultures all over the world mothers and babies have been kept warm through various means. In Fiji, new mums are processed in vassissilli – steaming herbs and heavy belly massage. In Korea, (See below) steaming with moxa and other herbs.  In Malaysia rocks are warmed and placed over the new mother’s shrinking abdomen. Many cultures bound mums bellies to allow the muscles to remember what they were to do – and to give support after all that effort.  In other cultures new fathers light a fire near or under the mother’s bed that is kept burning for weeks. In still others, warming sand, oil, and herbs are heated and applied to the mother.Mother Roasting is practised in many traditional cultures as part of recovery from birth and to help with the demands of early mothering and is usually accompanied by specific foods and herbs to be consumed, belly binding of various kinds and a period of at least a month of self care away from normal life. Based on solid traditional principles, mother roasting may also involve massaging and warming specific areas of the new mothers body to restore energy and to ensure the digestive, liver and kidney energy systems, whilst recharging the new mum’s spirits.

In Malaysia, a special stone that has been heated in a fire, is wrapped in a cloth and placed on the abdomen. In Thailand, a fire was lit at the mother’s bedside, where she would lie day and night rotating her body every half an hour. In the Hopi Indian culture in Arizona, the mother was rested on top of a heated bed of sand and a sheepskin, and then covered well. In all these cultures, during this time she is nurtured, massaged, fed nourishing foods and supported in her recuperation from birth by family helping to care both for her and her newborn.

YOU can do your own version – look online for what is about – and make do  . .

If you have been iced, please come in and get me to pull the cold out as it lasts for the rest of your life and messes with all other life functions ..

The Chinese call it zuo yuezi. The Vietnamese, nam lua in. Mother Roasting. The term itself will either conjure up strange mental images of a woman in a stove, or will bring a smile to your face and comfort to your bones.

In the event you, like most women in our Western culture, don’t know what Mother Roasting is, it is simply the practice of keeping a woman warm immediately after birth and in the first few weeks following birth. Cross-culturally, it is believed to seal up emotional, physical, and spiritual gateways that have been opened by birth. It is a way of protecting a woman’s body, her newborn, and, as a result, nourish her back into being.

Cultural Perspectives

“Many anthropologists interpret the postpartum practices of traditional cultures as ritualistic methods of purifying unclean women after birth. Sometimes this may have been the case, but, in fact, most often these practices were likely done to support the mother in her transition and give her time To rest and bond with her baby (Lang 1987).

When looking at birth from anthropological perspective, it seems that women in traditional societies commonly not only had relatively easy births, but also enjoyed rapid and complete recoveries with minimal complications, especially in regard to postpartum blood loss. Also, rarely were there problems with breast-milk production (Lang 1987).” – Natural Health after Birth: Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellnessby Aviva Jill Romm

Worldwide, women in all cultures are encouraged to lie-in during the weeks following birth, allowing other women in their community to take care of them, nourishing, massaging, binding, bathing, and loving on them. They treat the mother with reverence and respect, giving her a safe space to focus solely on her own bodies needs and her babies needs.

This alone, without any pomp and ritual, will help a woman to ‘come back to’ society quicker, by giving her grace and understanding to take a moment to claim and process the recent events and new life she is entrusted with.

In addition to the simplicity of nourishing a woman during her postpartum period, many cultures have specific practices, and sometimes even rituals, to honor this time.

Women of Western culture, on the other hand, rarely find themselves given postpartum massage, rarely find their rooms warmed nicely, rarely practice binding, and, more often than not, are offered a cup of ice water and a cold pack for their bottom and are expected to get back to caring for their homes and guests within 3 days.

Practices Worth Considering

Indian mothers are treated to warm oil massages (along with their babies) each day for the first 40 days after birth. Mayan mothers are also given daily warm oil full-bodied massages.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include realignment of tissues and ligaments (which can become stressed from the release of relaxin during pregnancy and the birth event itself) and stretching and drawing out of old blood from sore muscles used during the labor and birth event. Uterine massage helps to decrease postpartum bleeding and alleviates discomfort from afterbirth cramping.

Additionally, muscular massage helps to alleviate tension and discomfort associated with the over-worked, tired, or strained muscles used during the act of birthing.



Almost every culture has certain beliefs surrounding feeding mom postpartum as well. Almost all of them include meals that are warm, nourishing, high in protein and iron, specific to healing, or great for lactation.

Ancient Ayurvedic traditions (5,000 years ago) are still played out in many Indian cultures, where mom and baby are given clear broths and warm oiled meats for the first weeks following birth. In China and other Asian cultures, ‘hot’ foods, like boiled eggs, chicken, warm sesame oils, fish soups, seaweed soups, and clear broths and teas are consumed numerous times throughout the day.

In Laos and Thailand, women are served warm meals from other, elder women for the first 7 days after birth. In Mexico and other Latin, Middle, and South American cultures, regardless of the weather, postpartum women will not drink cold drinks if they have the option of consuming room temperature or lukewarm teas and soups.

Korean Seaweed Soup.


Heat has long been used as a way of strengthening the tissues, nerves, and blood vessels that may have been weakened and be in danger of further, or long-term, stress after birth.

“According to traditional Chinese medicine, heat is highly significant for lie woman who has recently given birth. One of the three major factors considered important for the health of postpartum women is “sparing the exterior”. According to traditional Chinese herbalist Andy Ellis, this means protecting against wind and avoiding cold drafts. Childbirth is thought to deplete what in Chinese is called wei chi. The Wei Chi is the body’s protective immune capacity, found specifically on the surface of the body and in the lungs. Special herbs protect the woman and nourish the wei chi,  the woman is expected to remain indoors for 1 month after birth.” – Natural Health after Birth: Complete Guide to Postpartum Wellness by Aviva Jill Romm

Native Alaskan women were traditionally expected to stay indoors, away from wind and cold, for either one month, if she had a boy, and two months, if she had a girl, so as not to become chilled.

Modern medicine can see that a woman ‘cools’ after birth due to the loss of heat through baby’s body, amniotic fluid and blood loss, and general exhaustion and fatigue from labor. Moxa sticks, incense sticks, hot water bottles, sauna treatments, perineal steaming, warmed rooms, hot oils, or hot hands packets are all acceptable forms of mother heating. 

In Laos and Thailand, women are treated to steam sauna-like treatments – using specific herbs.

“Many of these terpenes have documented antimicrobial and analgesic properties, and some have also synergistic interactions with other terpenes. The mode of application in hotbed and mother roasting differs from the documented mechanisms of action of these terpenes. Plants in these two practices are likely to serve mainly hygienic purposes, by segregating the mother from infection sources such as beds, mats, stools, cloth and towels. Steam sauna medicinal plant use through inhalation of essential oils vapors can possibly have medicinal efficacy, but is unlikely to alleviate the ailments commonly encountered during postpartum convalescence. Steam sauna medicinal plant use through dermal condensation of essential oils, and steam bath cleansing of the perineal area is possibly a pragmatic use of the reported medicinal plants, as terpene constituents have documented antimicrobial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.” – Steam Sauna and Mother Roasting in Lao

In Malaysia, women are given hot stone treatments; rocks are warmed and placed on her abdomen. In other cultures, a hot water bottle or heating pad is applied to the abdomen to help the uterus shrink and become less swollen.

In other Asiatic and Indigenous Native American cultures, the new father is given the honor and duty to make and keep a fire to be burned for weeks near or under the mother’s bed. In Mexico and South Western United States, many Mexican women dress their babies and themselves in layers of blankets, sweaters, hats and scarves whenever they leave their homes. Some will even stuff their ears with cotton to avoid wind. 


Belly binding, also called belly wrapping, is a common practice cross-culturally. Those in the Caribbean, Spanish, Ethiopian, Asian, and Indonesian cultures all practice, at least historically, the practice of belly binding.

During pregnancy, a woman’s abdominal walls separate and her muscles expand. The spine is stressed and often times becomes misaligned. The pelvic floor muscles relax, skin stretches, abdominal muscles separate, and organs move out of the way of the growing uterus. Within hours after birth, as uterine involution occurs, there is a vast amount of ‘unused space’ in the abdomen, which quickly fills with extra fluid and air.


Belly binding helps to reduce swelling and fluid retention by bringing in the abdominal walls, disallowing the abdomen to distend and thus, fill, with fluid and air. It also works to compress loose skin, draw the abdominal muscles together, encourage proper posture, and keep loose organs in place – facilitating a more comfortable and quicker recovery with less risk of diastasis recti occurring.

Post birth – diastasis – belly separation

In Conclusion

Mother Roasting is a time-honored tradition that seeks to give women the safe space to rest, recuperate, allow their body to come back into balance, and allow their minds, hearts, and selves to focus solely on their new role as mother and the new life of their baby. Mother Roasting encourages and promotes lactation, healthy bodies, and healthy minds.

Perhaps it is time for us to start loving mothers again.