There are no other feelings that can come anywhere near the one where you feel when you first hold your baby in your arms. Little did you know, that was just the beginning of your long-time subscription of joy. Your baby, even with poo smeared all over their legs, can still make you draw a smile with their little giggles.
While the motherhood experience is extremely rewarding and beautiful, it sure is not a walk in the park. One thing moms tend to overlook is the importance of taking care of themselves. Because you would put your little one before yourself, there are many things you are depriving yourself of.
For instance, the proper confinement meals. Diet plays a huge role in our daily life, whether we are a new mom or not. As we become a new mom, more aspects need to be highlighted in the diet after giving birth. Now, you might be thinking of the first few days after childbirth or perhaps just the few days when you are still not discharged from the hospital, but the recovery period can be much longer than that.
Many moms still feel that their first month after giving birth are busy and chaotic, what not with the baby wailing every now and then. This is extremely common and understandable. In fact, very few of them manage to get enough rest during this time. That is what the confinement period is for.
What is the confinement period?
Put simply, it is the first few weeks (actual period differs according to different cultures and traditions) after childbirth where moms are expected to mainly rest and recuperate from the labour. This period, which normally lasts for a month, is accompanied by various guidelines that some people take more seriously and count as rules.
In Chinese culture, moms are told to stay inside for a month after giving birth. Back then, this ‘rule’ is so stringent that you would only see the mom leave the house after their confinement period ends.
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Confinement Period: The Fourth Trimester?
All over the world, there are cultural practices around this very delicate time after childbirth for the mom and the baby. In fact, the confinement period is known as the fourth trimester! The fourth trimester basically covers the first three months after your delivery (in which the confinement period is also included) where your body is recovering and your newborn is rapidly developing.
How do new moms normally do this? They ‘lie in’. We’re not joking! In fact, in Chinese, the term for this confinement month is called zuo yue zi which can be directly translated to ‘sitting (out) the month’. The universe is basically giving new moms a one-month exemption from doing anything but resting.
How long should the confinement period be?
That said, trimester does mean three months. Confinement period according to any culture is generally shorter than this. However, the actual confinement period should depend on a mother’s condition individually rather than following a guideline that is set by traditions dated back to hundreds of years ago.
All things considered, three months can either be long, short, or just enough time for a mom to recuperate. What about you? How long do you think you would need? The truth is, you can’t really put a number to it and decide when you can be ‘up and running’ again. Once you have given birth, analyse your condition and consult your doctor. After that, give yourself time to heal properly. The most important thing is to not rush your recovery.
Should all moms follow confinement practices?
What about now? Should you follow the confinement practices? While some mothers still do stick to the guidelines strictly, you can simply take it as it is; a guideline. Whether or not you want to follow it, leave it to your body and your needs to decide.
There are many other confinement practices that you will unravel once you really get into it. For example, no showering and no drinking cold waters. Do these sound too much for you? Perhaps it does, given the time we are currently in. However, back then, all of these are considered doable. Hence, you should feel free to follow or not follow certain practices.
If you feel like you are comfortable showering every day, do so. If you want to stay inside the house during the whole confinement period since pretty much everything (including your doctor) can be brought to your door during this time, you may do so as well. Remember, the confinement period is only about you, and you alone. You should not feel burdened to follow anything that feels difficult for you.
Can you adopt confinement practices but still keep a modern lifestyle?
Yes, you sure can! The key is already mentioned in the last paragraph; to not feel burdened to follow anything. With that in mind, if you are eager to take up any confinement practices that you feel is easy peasy for you, feel free to do so. Your confinement is yours to shape and live through, so you should not make yourself feel pressured to do certain things that you feel are pushing your limits.
So, where to begin? Let’s start with the confinement food. This is possibly the most important part of the whole confinement practices as you will be eating every day. How do you build a that is confinement-appropriate? Remember, you do not have to try too hard!
For a start, list down some foods that you like. Try to include a wider variety of foods and consider the groups (staple, protein, and veggies). Next, if you like chicken, think of the many ways you can cook it. Now, the only step left is to find ways to make those recipes healthier! Simple, isn’t it?
Try to look at the rest of the confinement practices the same way. For your daily bath, for example, take one shower per day rather than not shower at all – if that’s what you want. You can also incorporate the ‘traditional’ element by making herbal bathwater.
New moms face more than what meets the eye. On the outside, people see that you have toughened up through the labour. But on the inside, you could be battling with so much more. Your bladders may not work as well as they normally do and the haemorrhoids hurt. And having to breastfeed almost every two hours doesn’t help with your sleep problems.
Not to mention, roughly about 70 per cent of women experience baby blues in the first couple of weeks postpartum, and about five per cent of women will develop postpartum depression which can go on for years.
So, if you ask us: what is a good confinement practice, we’d say to ask yourself back; what would you need during your confinement period? Truthfully, just getting ample rest is good enough. After what you have been through, it is best to just keep everything slow and steady. The importance of confinement after giving birth is subjective, so you, like many other moms, will benefit from it in your own way.