"Baby Abby wants to see Aunty Joyce" The text sure got me out of my after-lunch food-comatose state even though lunch was quite a few hours ago. The sender of the text was from a very dear friend Jennifer whom I have known for many years. I wrapped up what I was doing and excitedly made my way to the hospital to visit Jennifer and Baby Abby.
Just as I entered her room, I was greeted by the soft gentle wail of a baby, with Jennifer covered in long-sleeve pajamas, and a confinement lady in attendance. I opened my arms to give Jennifer a big hug and propped myself comfortably on the couch, waiting for Abby to be brought to me by the confinement lady after Jennifer nurses her. Newborn babies look so delicate and adorable.
As I cradled Abby in my arms, Jennifer suddenly declared, "Starting from today I will be in confinement for at least a month. Please come visit us as often as you can." I laughed and said: "Are you looking for companionship whilst grounded?"
What is confinement after pregnancy you ask? Well, according to the Chinese, a woman's body is at its weakest and most vulnerable to future ailments after childbirth. The term confinement basically means the new moms are "quarantined" at home and confined to a certain regimen comprising a highly nutritious diet, a list of do's and don’ts, and plenty of rest. The confinement period varies from 30 to 100 days. Did I mention that it comes with a live-in confinement lady too? A confinement lady is typically someone who is very experienced in looking after the mommy and her new born baby so mommy enjoys hassle-free postnatal care and can fully recuperate after the delivery.
Traditionally, Chinese women must observe a strict one-month postnatal confinement. But how relevant are these guidelines today from both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medical approaches? I cannot help but question some of the traditional practices. Let us go through the laundry list of do's and don’ts during confinement:
- One is not advised to brush her teeth, bathe or wash her hair; if it really cannot be helped, then do so only with boiled water as contact with cold water causes wind to enter the body and cause ill-health.
- All the windows must be closed, no air-conditioning and fans are allowed at all times – to prevent the entry of wind.
- One must observe rest in bed for the entire month; minimize walking to allow the body to recuperate.
- One should not watch television, use any electronic gadgets or read, to prevent straining of the eye and affecting the temperament of the mother.
- One must be wrapped in layers of clothing and socks so as not to expose the body to wind.
- Consume plenty of pig trotters cooked in black vinegar, chicken with sesame oil and black fungus, pork liver and kidneys with ginger and sesame oil, pig tripe soup with peppercorns, every day; basically all foods that are cooked with lots of ginger and sesame oil.
- One can only drink a special hot "tea" made from red dates and dried longans – to be drunk as water and to replace water, to keep the body warm.
Are you welcoming a little one and need an extra pair of hands to help you during your confinement month? Click below to book or call us at 6258 6683!
Many nannies are strict and traditional in their caregiving. The above are traditions that have been observed and passed down for hundreds of years. Let me share with you some modern confinement practices to avoid getting into any conflicts with the nanny while reaping all the benefits of confinement.
- After a month of not brushing my teeth, bathing nor washing my hair, I would probably have a mouth full of decayed teeth; neither can anyone live with me in the same house, and I’m certain my head would grow fungus, mushrooms and maybe truffles too! My baby might cry when she smells my aroma too! These days we have water heaters – we can wash our hair and shower in the day when the sun is shining bright! We no longer live on a mountain or remote villages during winter where we have to draw cold water from a well!
- No ventilation at all and so we suffocate?Iam sure we can adjust the ventilator of the air-conditioner so that it does not blow directly at us?
- It is important to rest and recuperate, but it is also important and healthy to move some for circulation, avoiding the risk of problems such as DVT or deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the body especially the legs)
- Light content such as romance and comedies should be allowed?
- The last I checked, Singapore doesn’t have winter.
- I like my food and eating nutritious and high protein foods is good.
- Have we all not been taught that we must consume water daily to keep us hydrated?
I would advise all mommies to relax, rest and enjoy the care and pampering as you embark on this new journey in your life. There will be ups and downs, so I wish all mommies more ups than downs. Always share and speak with someone on whatever you are going through. You might also want to check out our other article on "How Two Families Had A Wonderful Confinement Month Their Way". Remember you are never alone. Somewhere out there, a mommy is experiencing what you are going through. So hang in there, this is just the beginning of a beautiful journey with your little one. :)
I would love to hear from any mommies or confinement nannies who have thoughts or comments to share and tell me more about it.
Here are other pregnancy-related articles and videos you might like:
Did you enjoy this article? There's more where that came from. So, come subscribe to our blog to make sure you do not miss the interesting, informative, and some fun articles and videos we share!