"'Doing the Month': Confinement and Convalescence of Chinese Women After Childbirth" (1978), by Barbara L.K. Pillsbury
In 1978 Social Science and Medicine published Barbara L.K. Pillsbury's article, 'Doing the Month': Confinement and Convalescence of Chinese Women After Childbirth, which summarized the results of Pillsbury's study on Chinese childbirth customs. Pillsbury, a professor of cultural anthropology at San Diego State University in San Diego, California, conducted over eighty interviews with people in Taiwan and China, including civilians, herbalists, and physicians over a four-month period in 1975. She aimed to highlight how a traditional Chinese post-childbirth custom known as zuo yuezi (sitting the month) persisted in modern Chinese society. The practice refers to the month-long period that women who have just given birth must spend resting, or in convalescence, adhering to a strict set of rules that address dietary needs and other cultural rituals. Pillsbury's Doing the Month provides a description and analysis of zuo yuezi (sitting the month), highlighting how traditional Chinese medicine persists in an increasingly westernized Chinese society, specifically in the case of childbirth and reproductive medicine.