Aim. To investigate the association between postpartum stress as well as social support and the general health status of women recently discharged from postpartum nursing centres where the ritual of Tso-Yueh-Tzu is followed.
Background. Taiwanese women stay in postpartum nursing centres to take care of their newborn babies and perform the traditional Chinese ritual of Tso-Yueh-Tzu, the custom of a postpartum month-long rest.
Design. A non-experimental research design was used in the study.
Methods. Two hundred and fifty-eight postpartum women who had stayed in postpartum nursing centres for at least 20 days were recruited at eight postpartum nursing centres in the Kaohsiung metropolitan area of southern Taiwan. They were administered the Hung Postpartum Stress Scale, the Social Support Scale and the Chinese Health Questionnaire.
Results. Women without minor psychiatric morbidity had higher social support, lower postpartum stress and longer length-of-stays in the postpartum care centre than women with minor psychiatric morbidity. Postpartum stress revolved around changes in body shape. A one-point increase in postpartum stress increased the likelihood that a mother would suffer minor psychiatric morbidity by 1·04 times; while giving birth to a boy decreased that likelihood by 0·51 times.
Conclusions. This study found Tso-Yueh-Tzu as practised in postpartum nursing centres gave the postpartum women the opportunity to receive tangible support and, therefore, helped decrease postpartum stress and improved their general health. The greatest source of postpartum stress was concern over negative body changes.
Relevance to clinical practice. The postpartum nursing centre plays an important role in helping postpartum Taiwanese women observe the traditional ritual of Tso-Yueh-Tzu and in improving these women’s general health. These centres may want to pay more attention to providing exercise that promotes body toning and relaxation.