Background The Chinese postpartum custom of a??confinementa?? or a??doing-the-montha?? involves formalised social support and recognition of the status of motherhood and has been presumed in anthropological literature to protect mothers of newborns from postpartum depression. The aim of this review was to examine systematically the evidence about the relationship between confinement practices and postpartum depression in Chinese cultures. Methods A systematic search of the English-language literature.