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Table 3 Families' beliefs and practices compared with Western health model

From: Traditional beliefs and practices in the postpartum period in Fujian Province, China: a qualitative study

Traditional model-beliefs and practice

Western health model: effects of reported behaviour on health, and basis for this judgement



What is reported to be actually happening

Effects of actual behaviour on health

Explanation of these effects

Dietary precautions

Eating more food

All consumed more food than usual.

Beneficial [23]

Provides adequate nutrients for lactation.


Eating hot food (protein rich)

All consumed these foods.


Provides adequate nutrients for lactation. Provides nutrients that promote healing of tears and incisions.


Avoiding cold food (fruit and vegetables)

All ate vegetables, but less amount and fewer kinds.

No obvious health effects

If very restricted, could cause constipation. However, women did not report constipation as a problem.


No bathing or washing hair

Rural: Most bathed. Urban: Most used dry or damp towel to clean skin. Half washed hair.

No obvious health effects


Vulval and perineal hygiene is important

All did daily vulval and perineal hygiene.

Beneficial [24,25]

Promotes healing of tears and incisions, prevents infections.


No brushing teeth.

Most did not practice pre-birth dental hygiene habits.

Harmful [31,32]

Allows a build up of plaque and bacteria that can cause teeth decay.

Behavioural precautions

Staying inside the home

All stayed in their homes.

No obvious health effects


Avoiding housework

Most did no housework.


Allows time to recover from childbirth and focus on caring for the baby.


Resting in bed.

Women walked around room or home. Few did other exercises.

No obvious health effects

With complete bed rest, deep vein thrombosis is a risk but no women reported this.


Abstaining from sex

All followed this restriction.

No obvious health effects

Allows time for the reproductive tract tissues to recover and heal.


Limiting visitors

Most families had fewer visitors.

No obvious health effects


Infant feeding

Breastfeeding is best

All breastfed, but only two exclusively. Most gave supplements in first 3 days and continued for whole period.

Harmful [37-40]

Interferes with milk production and breastfeeding technique, possible source of infection.


Giving honeysuckle for skin rash

Rural: infrequently. Urban: common.