Friday, May 10, 2013

Ge Lai Survival Guide

Gelai is the chinese custom of a month long recovery period of a mom after giving birth.  The rules behind Gelai stem from the olden times in China when access to hot water is very limited.  Still, many Fil-Chi moms still practice it.  Here are some tips how to survive 30 days of being on house arrest and no shower (yikes!!!)

1.  Plan ahead - as you approach your due date, make a list of errands : groceries, haircuts,  your dental check-up, check-up of the older kids, etc.  Bry, Ben and I got haircuts a few days before I was scheduled to deliver.  We also made sure our pantry was full.

2. Watch TV Sitcoms - I love watching tv sitcoms because they're able to give me a short break from all the craziness that's happening.  They're great pumping buddies, too, since they're just 20 minutes short.  My favorites:  Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, Raising Hope, New Girl and The Big Bang Theory

3. Take lots of naps - I read somewhere that naps are God's gift to the impatient.  In a way it is true.  When you're tired of waiting, a nap helps you pass the time.  In case of a newborn mom, naps are important to get enough energy.  I usually have to take a short nap after lunch and after dinner so I can take care of the twins properly.  When I am left to take care of the twins all by myself, I do my best to put them to sleep until reinforces arrive.  Of course, ahia Ben needs his nap, too!

4. Watch what you eat and drink
Moms who go through gelai have a certain diet.  Generally speaking these dishes are nutritious but if you are nursing, you have to observe the effects that eating these dishes have on your milk.  Some babies are sensitive to chicken, wine, chocolate, and other herbs.  If there are signs of allergies on the baby, try to revise your diet and check if the symptoms persist.

5. Break a few rules
Strictly speaking, Gelai calls for a mom not only to postpone taking a shower for a month, but also to avoid drinking anything cold and to always wear long sleeve tops/long pants (among others).  The reason behind is to avoid getting sick during this recovery time since it is believed that whatever sickness you get during gelai, you'll get it for the long term.  I do my best to follow all the rules but given that I gave birth in the summer, I would occassionally wear short pants with sleeveless shirt and have a drink of lukewarm water.  Also in our case, I'm not suppose to leave the house or take the stairs but didn't have any choice since I had to go back and forth to the hospital.

6. Have someone do errands for you 
No matter how much you prepare, chances are you'll need help with some of the chores especially in your first month.  Have someone do the groceries, cook food, go to the bank, etc. 

7. Make a list of the things you plan on doing once you are a gelai graduate
- It helps to know the finish line is around the corner, and planning what you'll do once you can officially go out and about may motivate you to finish the month.  Mine was being able to watch a movie with Bry and going to mass.  

8. Have a newborn shoot at home - your little one will only be little once.  Why not have the experts document this precious phase? Try Stanley Ong Photography !($

Whether you believe in Gelai or not, hope you'll find some of these tips useful in surviving being a mom to a newborn.  In my experience, doing it the second time around doesn't make it easier, but knowing what to expect makes you wise enough to think of ways to make it more fun / bearable.

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