In ideal conditions (that is, if you are not in the middle of the Long March or something), Chinese women rest and recuperate for a full 40 days, while being waited on hand and foot.
I am old enough to remember the feminist movement of the late 60's, when the "yeah-but-do-we-want-a-woman-president-with-a-nuclear-button-and-that-time-of-the-month" argument was met with angry scorn from feminists. Not really answered, more like a "how dare you advance such a ridiculous argument" response. But some modern feminists, unlike their counterparts of a generation ago, want the government to legislate special consideration for women in the workforce and grant paid monthly leave to women suffering from severe menstrual symptoms. But I digress.
Some Christian denominations prescribe, or used to prescribe, that women stay home for 40 days after birth, then make their first outing to the church to give thanks for her own life and the life of her new child. In my novel, A Contrary Wind, set in Regency England, one of the characters is "churched" after giving birth to twins. Considering that in olden times, so many women died during or after childbirth, this Church of England prayer was uttered in all sincerity:
O ALMIGHTY God, we give thee humble thanks for that thou hast vouchsafed to deliver this woman thy servant from the great pain and peril of child-birth: Grant, we beseech thee, most merciful Father, that she through thy help may both faithfully live and walk according to thy will, in this life present; and also may be partaker of everlasting glory in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
It's startling and poignant to consider that Jane Austen lost three of her sisters-in-law to complications from childbirth.
Of course, we Westerners really believe in the efficacy of chicken soup for invalids as well, so much so chicken soup with matzo balls is called "Jewish penicillin."
- No housework! No exercise or exertion of any kind. Some strict mothers and mothers-in-law also forbid reading, watching television and using cell phones.
- No opened windows, no drafts, nothing cold must touch the body. No cold food, no ice cream.
- And no washing! No showers, no hair washing, even no tooth brushing, or at least not with cold water.
- Mom rests in bed. She can cuddle and feed her baby but all other baby care, cooking and housework, are done for her.
Can 1.4 billion Chinese be wrong? I can only anecdotally state that whenever Ross and I go downtown, we are enchanted by the beauty and serenity of the Chinese babies that we encounter, travelling about with their parents and grandparents. We see very few fussy babies.