Confinement refers to a traditional practice after childbirth designed to help your body heal and rest after going through labour. Confinement is widely practiced by new mothers in many Asian countries, including Singapore. In our country, various ethnic groups including Chinese, Malays, and Indians have their own versions of confinement practices. While some of these traditional practices are helpful in the mother’s recovery, some are purely myths.
Regardless of cultural differences, you’ll find similar myths among Chinese, Malay, and Indian confinement practices. Now let’s find out what these myths are, and learn how you can find a balance between keeping tradition and following modern science.
Confinement Myth #1 – Do Not Bath During Confinement
When it comes to bathing during confinement, the Chinese have a traditional confinement practice that forbids mothers from bathing, washing their hair, or even touching the water. This is based on the fear that “wind” might enter the body. As for the Indians, bathing is also discouraged too. If done, bathing is only allowed during the hottest time of the day between 11 am to 2 pm. Meanwhile, bathing with warm water is allowed in Malay confinement practices.
Bathing is restricted during confinement primarily because of exposure to lower temperatures. This is often associated with rheumatism during the mother’s later stages of her life. However, modern scientific research provides no link between a new mom’s bath and rheumatic disorders. Furthermore, maintaining your hygiene is important as you will be handling your newborn. One tip is to take a bath with warm water and dry your hair and body as soon as you get out of the shower.
Confinement Myth #2 – Consume Plenty of Alcohol To Purge “Wind”
The Indian and Chinese have the practice of offering alcohol or dishes containing alcohol to new mothers. It is believed that consuming alcohol during confinement will improve blood circulation and keep the body warm.
In moderation, there is no harm in consuming alcohol during confinement. However, avoid taking them in access as they may affect you and your baby’s health. Alcohol content can be passed to the child through breastfeeding, which may lead to jaundice, affecting the liver, or delayed child development. You should stop consuming alcohol if you notice your baby is showing any sign of discomfort. If you are looking for healing confinement drinks, red dates tea is a great option to keep your body warm and nourished.
Confinement Myth #3 – Only Eat Liver & Meats
Chinese, Malay & Indian culture has the confinement practice that encourages mothers to have “heating” food in order to get the “wind” out of the body and promote blood circulation. This practice is based on the belief that the mother’s body has been “cooled” by labour, so she must consume plenty of meat and specific confinement food to keep the body warm.
Regardless of your beliefs, a well-balanced diet actually heals and nourishes your body better than only focusing on certain food ingredients. If you are breastfeeding, having sufficient nutrients from various foods will benefit your baby too.
Confinement Myth #4 – Don’t Do Any Physical Activities
Mothers are discouraged to leave the house or do any strenuous physical activities such as lifting heavy items or doing house chores. As a mother’s body will experience swelling, stiffness and soreness after delivery, this practice is relevant in helping mothers to heal and recharge.
Meanwhile, sex is also strictly prohibited during the confinement period in all three culture. Particularly in the Malay culture, having sex soon after giving birth is considered against religious teachings. From a medical point of view, not having sex during this period helps with lochia discharge and healing of the episiotomy wound. It may also reduce the chances of both husband and wife getting an infection.
Confinement Myth #5 – Don’t Be Exposed To Any Wind
One of the most common Chinese traditional confinement practices is to keep the mother and baby away from any form of wind, including fans or air-conditioners. Again, this is from the belief that the mother’s body is “cooled” after going through labour and must be kept warm at all times. You’ll find a similar practice in Malay culture—which involves the mother sitting or lying near a heated source.
For personal comfort, there is no harm in using the fan or air-conditioner as long as the temperature feels comfortable to you and your baby. In fact, having good airflow in your room prevents you and your baby from overheating, and may keep you away from heat rashes too.
As long as the practices you choose is beneficial to your physical and mental wellbeing, you can rest assured that you are on the right path of recovery. Aside from following confinement practices, having the right support during confinement helps with your recovery too. PEM Confinement Nanny Agency is a licensed confinement nanny agency in Singapore with over 30 years of experience. Get the best care during confinement with the experienced and well-trained confinement nanny from PEM!