Aside from giving birth, one other thing that I dreaded about when I was pregnant was the Ge Lai. Ge Lai is the Chinese way of postpartum healing. There are a few things a woman goes through when she is in Ge Lai, but the most common and famous of them is the no taking a bath, no shower during the whole process (which is about 30 days).
Yes, I did not have a bath for a whole month. I still can’t believe that I got through one whole month without taking a shower. Ok, maybe I cheated a little and went around the no bath, no shower rule. But I definitely did not wash my hair for 30 days. I can still feel the heavy feeling and itchiness when I think about it. Urgh! My hair was sticky and stinky!
I was told that doing the Ge Lai was important because it helps my body recover from child birth, and that I might not feel the benefits now, but when I get older, that’s when I’ll feel the effects of Ge Lai (or not doing the Ge Lai). I figured, there’s nothing wrong in trying, especially if it helps my body get back the lost “qi” or energy from child birth.
If you’re going through Ge Lai, then you might find some of my tips here helpful. You might want to check in with your elders, though, ‘coz they may be strict about some stuff.
How I survived the Ge Lai?
Here are 4 tips.
1. Don’t dread the No Bath, No Shower rule.
The important thing in Ge Lai is that your body doesn’t get exposed to “wind” and cold since your pores are “open” after child birth. It means you can take a quick, hot shower if you really must. It’s actually what some women do when they can’t stand it, specially those doing Ge Lai during the summer.
Me, I took a sponge bath for the upper part of my body, and for the lower part, I cleaned it with warm water from the faucet in the shower. Because I had an episiotomy, it was important that I clean my down there properly. You can also put alcohol in your water when you take a sponge bath. Just remember to keep warm and dry (believe me, you can easily forget this). There were a lot of times that I just welcomed the cool air.
For my hair and scalp, I scrubbed my head with towel (dampened in water with alcohol). Then I just tied it up into a bun every time so it was out of the way and I’d forget about the stickiness.
Don’t use dry shampoo because it will make your hair oilier.
When I finished my Ge Lai and was finally able to take a bath, I had to use water boiled with Guava leaves (dahon ng Bayabas). It wasn’t that bad. I mean, what’s one more, right?
2. Stay in bed as much as possible.
Take in all the sleep you can get. Avoid getting yourself dirty. You won’t sweat and you won’t feel icky for not taking a bath. Besides, one of the perks of being in Ge Lai is that you take as much rest as you can. You can’t do any strenuous work.
I tried to stay in bed. I tried to rest and to sleep when the baby was sleeping, but I couldn’t help but feel like a bum. I still tried to do some “work”. I thought having a baby to watch over will distract me, but Light was asleep most of the time so I couldn’t really play with her. I just made sure I didn’t do anything that would make me sweat a lot. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I’d still feel “fresh”. Well, sometimes.
My pride got the best of me, thinking I could do it all. If I had known, I would’ve taken all the sleep and all the help I could get at that time. I would’ve definitely taken advantage of my Ge Lai!
3. Eat everything the elders asked you to eat.
Drink whatever “tonic” they concocted. Don’t think just do it. They’re not as bad as you think. Some actually taste good. Here are some of what I had during my Ge Lai.
- Seng Hwa Theng – a “tea” to help flush out blood from the body
- O Tso Tong Sim – a “tea” that’s supposed to replace water (I still drank water, though.)
- Lapu-lapu Soup – this actually helped with my milk supply
- Chocolate drink or just chocolate – my source of happiness during Ge Lai
- Black Chicken Adobo – another source of happiness (who doesn’t enjoy adobo?!?!)
- Scrambled Egg w/ Ginger (a lot of it) – my breakfast
You won’t really be starting on the food immediately after giving birth so it’s not a whole month of non-stop black chicken. The teas and the soup, though, I suggest you drink right away to help with your recovery and milk supply. I started mine when I was discharged from the hospital. I didn’t eat the crappy food in the hospital but requested yummy food from the husband. Take advantage of it, ladies!
4. Stay at home and bring the party to you.
As much as possible. Anyway, part of Ge Lai is being confined in the house for the whole duration. Plus, one month goes by faster than you think. It was a little hard for me because I had my Ge Lai during the Christmas season. There were a few family get togethers I missed, and a lot of good food!
Celebrating the end of my Ge Lai and Light’s First Month (Look My Hair Is Back!)
A photo posted by Ceena Giselle (@ceenagiselle) on