Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Doing-in-Month Ritual among Chinese and Chinese-American

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

Doing-in-Month Ritual among Chinese and Chinese-American

Article excerpt

Abstract: Doing-in-month is the month-long confinement of Chinese women after delivery. This report explores the perceptions of Chinese women of this specific ritual. The findings may provide health care providers a more in-depth, authentic understanding of how the culturally-based health beliefs influence life experiences. Qualitative data from 23 first-generation Chinese-American women in the San Francisco area and ten older Chinese women in Taiwan were included in this report. Special diet and clothing to maintain health and life style restrictions were identified from both studies. Physical and psychological pains resulted from failure to follow postpartum ritual were identified among only the Taiwanese women.

Key Words: Postpartum, Childbirth Experience, Women's Health

When speaking about noticing and respecting cultural differences in duties of pan-cultural nursing care, Leininger (1977) noted the importance of child-birth-related rituals in very traditional societies. Ritual is a social essential collective activity within a culture. It is widely recognized that culture plays a fundamental role in defining, sensing the health and illness, and searching help for problems (Keller & McDade, - 1997; Leininger, 1977). The practice of certain rituals in one's own homeland could be much easier as compared to people who migrate to a different country. Early studies of minority immigrants typically assumed the minority group was subject to a universal process of incorporation into the host society (Baca & Eitzen, 1990). This assumption originated from race-relations cycle theory, which suggests that when dominant and minority groups come into mutual contact, they enter a series of relationship changes characterized by competi"tion, accommodation, and eventual assimilation of the minority group (Park, 1950). In fact, this paradigm has been shifted since the 1970s to emphasize both retaining the culture of origin and adopting the host culture (Min, 1999).

Doing-in-month (which literally means month-long confinement) is one of the postpartum rituals for Chinese women. You may find "sitting month" in other literature; however, doing-in-month is more appropriate since several "do this" or "don't do it" child-birth-related observances need to be carried out during the postpartum period, particularly for Chinese who live their life in very traditional manner. Until recently, the Chinese believed that women who practiced certain health standards according to the post-confinement rules remained healthy and ready for the next child-bearing experience. This kind of practice also is said to provide sufficient social support to postpartum women and assist them in adopting their new role as a mother and maintain their quality of life (Heh, Fu, & Chin, 2001; Liu-Chiang, 1995).


In the field of postpartum care, there is very little known about families of diverse cultures and how culture influences the experiences among these minority women. This deficit in the knowledge of health care providers leads to a lack of cultural competency, which is in part to blame for the fact that minority Americans typically receive inadequate health care and suffer poor health outcomes as a result (Brach & Fraser, 2000). This is of great concern, especially given the projection that over tne next 40 years, the so-called minority population will be close to 50% of the U.S. population (U.S., 2000). Currently, about eleven percent or the U.S. population is foreign-born; over half are from Asia, and Chinese is the largest ethnic group (28%) among Asian American (U.S., 2000). Theoretically, increasing the cultural competency of health care providers could reduce the disparities that currently exist. However, while there are numerous discussions in the literature pointing out the importance of health care providers recognizing and taking into account the cultural differences among clients, most arguments are based on little more than anecdotal evidence and speculation. …

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