There are several Asian societies that practise postpartum confinement. This comprises traditional customs that have been passed down for generations and are intended to aid new mums in recovering after pregnancy and childbirth. For one, the mother and child are strongly advised to remain indoors during the confinement period in order to prevent future illness. While each culture has its own practices, there are some common do’s and don’ts, diets and essentials that you need to know.
Confinement Guides That You Can Follow
Do Get Extra Help
The confinement period is meant for mothers to get as much rest as possible for a full recovery after childbirth. Nursing can leave you exhausted due to the effect on the hormones. It is also advised that you avoid strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects until at least three months after childbirth so that you can fully recover.
Do Have a Proper & Nutritious Diet
Taking care of your diet is very crucial during the confinement period. Different races and cultures have different practices on the foods to eat and to avoid; however, the objective remains the same. The diet should purge ‘wind’ in the body and promote the circulation of blood. It should also promote milk supply and make the joints stronger.
For example, the Chinese practice is to drink red dates tea, a refreshing confinement beverage, and eat chicken cooked in sesame oil and a traditional tonic that consists of ten herbs, while avoiding food that was cooked the previous day. In Malay culture, a special diet consisting of ‘heating’ foods like turmeric, ginger and moringa leaves is encouraged while ‘cooling’ foods such as watermelon, watercress and pear have to be avoided to restore balance within the body. Air Jamu is one common drink consumed by new mothers to maintain the body heat. On the other hand, garlic milk and chicken cooked with herbs are part of the confinement diet for the Indians.
Do Not Consume Cold Drinks
Cold drinks are believed to have a ‘cooling’ effect, which slows down recovery and may lead to poorer health. You are advised to take hot drinks and many traditional practices recommend drinking hot teas as part of the confinement diet.
Confinement Guides That You Can Choose To Ignore
You are not allowed to bathe or wash your hair
This might be one of the biggest concerns of new mothers. It is a traditional practice for Chinese mothers not to bathe or wash their hair during confinement periods. The reason behind this practice is to prevent mothers from catching a cold and causing ‘wind-cold’ to the body. It is also believed that these might cause mothers to suffer from rheumatism and headaches.
However, contrary to traditional beliefs, experts do not recommend that mothers obey this rule, especially in hot and humid Malaysia. It is necessary to take care of your personal hygiene and keep yourself clean and fresh, especially breastfeeding mothers.
Warm water can be used for a bath, and you can dry off right away. Before taking a bath, make sure to close all of your doors and windows to prevent being exposed to the outdoor breeze once you’ve finished. When your body and hair are still damp from the shower, avoid going into an air-conditioned room or having a fan blowing straight at you. In addition, taking a herbal bath can help you get rid of wind and ease postpartum discomfort.
You cannot consume plain water
According to traditional belief, new mums should refrain from drinking water during confinement and are only permitted to consume red dates tea.
The fact is that you need to drink enough water to stay hydrated, especially if you are a breastfeeding mother. You can consume plain water during confinement to get hydrated and in order to keep your kidney producing more urine in the first few weeks after you give birth. This is to remove the excess fluid in your body during your pregnancy. A normal adult needs at least eight glasses of water a day. As a breastfeeding mum, you should drink a little more to meet your breastfeeding needs. Meanwhile, you can enjoy red dates tea or ginger tea in moderation.
You should only consume meat, liver and herbs
The belief here is to meet the needs of getting enough ‘heating’ food such as meat, liver and ginger. It is fine to eat these foods. In fact, foods including beef, pork intestines and ginger include nutrients that support lactation and healing. However, new mothers should consume other things as well. A balanced diet is necessary for your body to heal.
The confinement period is a very important time for you to recover and adjust to a new lifestyle with your baby. If you have more confinement or pregnancy-related questions, feel free to visit Danai Cresenvale Postnatal Haven to find out more.