Reproduction is the cornerstone of humanity’s existence; it is through breeding that all species can give rise to offspring that will continue the species. For Singaporeans, reproduction requires the parents to craft a careful and well thought-out plan, and only on rare occasions do children come as an accident. From pregnancy to childbirth, the mother undergoes numerous pre-natal care visits to the doctor to ensure that the pregnancy progresses well and minimizes complications. After birth, the baby still needs clinic check-ups to ensure he/she is doing well.
For the mother, the period immediately after birth is her opportunity to recover from the strenuous nine months of carrying the child, and hours of labour. Just like the baby, the mother needs particular attention during the first month after birth, customarily called the confinement period. In this article, we shall look at some of the confinement practices found in different cultures.
Confinement is a big deal in the Chinese society, and mothers get to enjoy the month-long extended rest. The diet for mothers in confinement is the integral part of this period and the food changes from week to week.
In the first week, the new mother takes food that will assist in expelling placental blood from the system. In the second week, food rich in iron is focused on, in order to rebuild the body and help replenish blood loss. In the final two weeks, foods that will help in increasing milk production for the baby are emphasized on greatly.
While in confinement, the mother is not allowed to engage in any sexual intercourse, eat cold food, perform household chores, walk barefoot, or bathe with cold water. Traditional Chinese herbs and foods play a big part in the confinement period.
In Indian culture, the confinement period runs a little longer than for the Chinese, from thirty to forty days. There is a saying common among the Indians: the first forty days shape the baby’s next forty years. It takes roughly around forty days for the new mother to regain her energy and resume her daily chores.
During the confinement period, mothers have massages and reduce fatigue using nurturing oils like coconut. The massage helps to improve blood circulation, soothe the muscles and bones. Hot water baths with a focus on the uterus has to happen each day.
After baths, a sari (traditional Indian garment) made of cotton is tied around the mother’s stomach, and it helps to push back the uterus and expel stomach gas. Mothers also take Ayurveda tonics to help with the recuperation process.
The confinement food menu during the period focuses mainly on garlic and shallots that helps with the mother’s immunity and in milk production for the infant. The diet also includes things like ghee, coconuts, and different types of nuts, mutton soup, fish and the signature Indian spices.
Just like the Indians, Malays have an extended confinement period of 44 days that has many traditional routines and rules. Discipline is key to see you through the confinement period. It’s a mean task, and the midwife, nanny and the grandmothers are encouraged to assist the new mother. Occasionally the mother can enjoy a delicacy from a reputable confinement food catering Singapore service provider.
Malay women have to go through a hot compress early in the morning before it is time for them to have breakfast, combined with full body massages for the first and last three days of confinement. The Bengkung or girdle is also worn during the confinement period and acts as a kind of postnatal corset to help shrink the mother’s bulging tummy.
To avoid a gassy stomach, the mother has to keep wearing socks during the confinement period. She also has to keep her feet warm at all times. Cold drinks and food are avoided to help the womb return to its initial position. Herbal baths are also part of the confinement period to assist in blood circulation and act as a type of therapy for the mother.
Most confinement rules these days are a more lax version of the original practices. One thing that is mutual to all the traditions is that a mother’s wellbeing comes first so that she can become a good parent to her baby.