photo: Grace Hwang Lynch/ NPR

For centuries, Asian moms have been spending their postpartum days following certain rules and eating traditional recipes designed to help them recover from giving birth. Now researchers have compiled those recipes, passed down for generations, into a cookbook that anyone can utilize. Read on to find out more about the benefits of following tradition.

The new cookbook, titled From Mothers to Mothers: A Collection of Traditional Asian Postpartum Recipes, combines recipes that mothers and grandmothers have been preparing for the newly-minted moms in their families. The book was a project of University of Berkeley professor Dr. Marilyn Wong in order to document Asian postpartum traditions. A group of undergraduate students performed the research by interviewing their own families and collecting recipes from a range of Asian ethnicities, including Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Cambodian, and Filipino.

Many Asian cultures follow very specific rituals for the first month after childbirth, with rules of all kinds (like not showering), but it’s the food that is the most significant part of the process. The recipes are meant to offer both nutrients and comfort. Dishes like braised pigs feet can provide calcium that might be depleted by breastfeeding, for example, Dr. Wong explained to NPR.

The comfort aspect also plays a major role in recovery and bonding with a new baby. Many women who followed tradition said that the recipes made them feel nostalgic for their own childhood, which led to a stronger sense of family. The book is available online through Eastward Books of Berkeley.

Does your family have any unique postpartum traditions? Share your own stories in the comments.