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Next Time I Have a Baby, I'm Going to China

I had no plans to have a third baby until I read about Chinese postpartum recovery customs. Known as "opulent sequestration" or "sitting the month," Chinese custom keeps new mothers confined indoors so they can restore their energy after childbirth for a month. This confinement used to take place at home, presumably with bossy grandmothers and rigid aunties looking on, but the custom has been rebranded.

Now, confinement looks more like being locked up in a five-star hotel complete with nannies, nutritionists and masseuses. These maternity care centers are all the rage in China, and if you have $27,000 laying around, you too can have a personal servant drape a towel over your neck or bring you organic potions to revitalize you after you've given birth.

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Besides the fact that I can't afford the plane fare to China, much less the fees associated with the postpartum spas, I would be all over this. Instead of trying to bathe my squirmy newborn baby while protecting my C-section scar, I could supervise a nanny who would do it for me, while another brought me a coconut smoothie.

Apparently, the Chinese understand that it takes more than just a village to raise a baby: It takes an on-call staff of medically trained servants, cooks, nannies, acupuncturists, nurses and yoga teachers.

It's not perfect, but I'm guessing that for $27,000, it's pretty freaking close to paradise.

The one catch with confinement is that it's pretty absolute—they advise new mothers to stay indoors, avoid bathing for a month and not to drink water (instead guests at Red Wall maternity center drink a patented Thousand-Year Herbal Essence Inheritance). I'll admit that these conditions give me pause. Those walks around the neighborhood helped me recover from postpartum depression. And I'm pretty sure if I was left to languish in my own filth for 28 days, they'd charge me extra for scaring off other mothers (and staff). If I had to forego water for a "steaming brown concoction infused with wood fungus, black soybean, jujube and other ingredients," I'd probably end up punching one of those yoga teachers and getting kicked out altogether.

The custom actually has its detractors within China as well. During a heat wave this summer, a woman confined to her home died of heatstroke. Another woman died in February during her confinement. So, it's not perfect, but I'm guessing that for $27,000, it's pretty freaking close to paradise.

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As with all postpartum practices, there are plenty of ways to take it too far. In moderation, however, the idea of having a staff of people waiting on me and my baby so that I could be restored to my former physical glory is alluring.

Now if I could just get my husband to agree to another baby and an extra $30K for the aftercare.

Photograph by: Adam Dean/New York Times

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