30 Days of Herbs

“A new relationship is about to blossom. You will be blessed.”


This Thanksgiving I got to visit my new nephew. The besotted parents were standing nearby, exhausted but beaming. It’s a wonder to hold a newborn. There’s the sweet peach fuzz of hair and the chubby cheeks. The marvel of tiny fingers and toes.

His mother was doing pretty well, considering. She subsisted on a few hours of sleep every day. Luckily, relatives were around to assist. Also, she was placed on a special dietary plan–30 days of herbs. (Traditionally, you’re also supposed to stay inside, rest in bed, and avoid contact with water.) There’s a cultural mandate for a restorative diet after you bear a child. (See my special soups post for a version of sesame chicken soup.)

In some cities, you can hire caretakers who will actually cook the food for you. Others, like myself, have loving parents who make the nutrient-rich dishes. Nowadays, though, there’s even a prepackaged set you can buy–a new daily concoction for the entire first month. Such special foods include:

  • Chinese angelica root (also known as dang gui; nourishes the blood and improves uterine function)
  • Dried longan (aids in relaxation and sleep)
  • Kidney (helps with aches and pains)
  • Liver (replenishes lost blood)
  • Pigs’ feet (warms the body and improves lactation)
  • Wolfberries (nourishes the yin and stops fatigue)

What ways do you know of to nourish a new mom?

Foodie Friday: Potstickers
Foodie Friday: Lobster Roll


  1. Given my clinical background, I find this interesting. If only medical education did a better job of educating students about alternative therapies. It’s getting better, but it’s still a vastly under-taught area.

    Congrats to the new mom! Nothing much beats the perfect smell of a baby’s sweet head. :)

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks, Carrie. Some things I thought were really helpful, like the soups. Other rules I didn’t follow so strictly (e.g. eating watermelon while pregnant).

      Ah, the sweet baby smell :)

  2. Veronica Roth says

    You probably already know that my middle child Kerstin has three daughters, (4yrs, 2yrs, and 6mo). I think we’re traditionalists round here and go for the chicken soup. I’ve been making complicated chicken soups for forever, and Kers makes them too. They usually involve the carcass of last night’s roast chicken and any leftover roasted veg, and a huge amount of fresh veg and herbs, all organic and more unusual things like kale, a good mix of dried beans and lentils and some wild rices. All sorts of really good vitamins and minerals. This kind of soup is actually a weekly staple for all my children.

    The other day I remembered a BBC program I watched a couple years ago and have started watching it again, (you tube). You might be interested. A young ethnobotanist named James Wong, the show is called “grow your own drugs” and explores the medicinal potential of plants. I love that kind if stuff and really believe in the power of plants and good nutrition.

  3. There is so much to be said, and appreciated, about old world customs. In the Mexican culture (well I’m second gen, so I’m relying on my mothers stories), the new mothers had to rest for 40 days and wear a girdle. This was so the uterus could shrink and the mothers avoid infection. Soups were also the meals to consume, as well as beans (for the iron).

  4. In France where my first child was born, a lot of attention was put on the pregancy, especially on the weight aspect, but little on the postpartum. Soups and herbs make lot of sense to me, and I admire the wisdom of some cultures when it comes to help the new mother to recover. The good thing in France was the free sessions of exercise (special abs) that every woman gets. It certainly helped me to regain a flat stomach in no time and I did the same in the US, only this time alone at home. But I wished I had had some good food cooked for me.
    You’re right, Jennifer, a newborn brings so much joy to a family. Wish all of them the best.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      It’s important to also get the best health attention during pregnancy. Those special ab exercises sound fantastic–you’ll need to blog about them!

  5. I have a good friend who is Taiwanese and her family came to visit after every baby she had to pamper her and cook for her – I bet they were following this tradition.
    By the way, this same friend is sending her 14 year old daughter (with cousins) to Taiwan for six weeks this summer for some kind of cultural immersion project. There will be classes and tours. I thought of you. Have you heard of anything like this?

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Ah, what pampering.

      Funny you should ask about the tours… I have this joke with my husband about the summer cultural experiences. We call them “Love Boat.” There’s “baby love boat” (for high schoolers) and then “love boat” (for college-aged) because people tend to get together on these Taiwan expeditions. (Not my husband, though. Thankfully.)


  1. […] But what’s in this savory broth? That’s right, pigs’ feet. It’s a great confinement stew, filled with rich nutrients for new mothers. The meat itself is braised, so it falls right off. […]

Speak Your Mind


%d bloggers like this: