The practice of post-delivery confinement has evolved over the years. But in some countries, like China, the practice is still common. Conventionally, the period of confinement is around a month before delivery and a month after birth. However, there can be adjustments according to the preferences and conditions of the new mother and her baby.
The Chinese culture has embraced confinement for over 2000 years. It was believed that if a woman did not observe the practice, she would not be able to avoid some complications. Frequent headaches, slow recovery, back pains, a stunted baby, and constant wails from the newborn were associated with taking a confinement shortcut. No woman would ever want to go through these difficulties. If that is the case, you would want to follow the confinement practice. New mothers in the modern world are now very keen on this tradition.
In the 17th and 18th century, confinement was a practice of the nobles. The poor could not leave their daily chores because they were always engaged in catering for their families. The rich and middle class could delegate their responsibilities to their maidservant and afford rest for two months. The tradition was widespread in most parts of the world. The only differences were the activities that were carried out during the confinement period. Here is the list:
Movement restriction is one of the practices that cut across the board in all cultures. Expectant or nursing mothers were not allowed to walk for long distances. In some communities, like the Chinese, the woman was not to leave the compound of the family. However, in late 1900s Singapore, the restriction was not as stringent. Though their movement was restricted, women could be allowed to leave the compound.
Today, the dynamics have changed because the mother and the baby have to leave their homes to visit a doctor, psychologist or nutritionist. However, in cultures where the practice is still followed religiously, a home nurse is always needed to care for mother and baby.
This could be the most challenging part of a traditional confinement: two months without a bath. There was a widespread myth that water caused a blood clot and therefore, women were not to take showers. Another reason was to prevent pregnant women from exposing their babies to cold.
This practice is unhygienic. It puts the mother and the baby at risk of contracting hygiene-related complications like cholera. It would beyond imagination, breastfeeding your newborn having not taken a shower for a month. Most new mothers no longer follow this practice during their confinement.
It didn’t matter whether it was summer or winter. You had to be wrapped up in many pieces of clothing to keep you from cold. It was believed that expectant or nursing mothers could feel the cold even during summer, which was definitely not the case.
Today, women are dropping the outdated practices of confinement. It is vital that you put on clothes that you feel comfortable in. There is a story of a Chinese woman who died from heat stroke during confinement. Putting on heavy clothes even when it is sunny could be detrimental to your health.
The confinement practice is still common today. However, it should be tailored to fit a modern woman. No one wants to stay for a month without a shower. Once in a while, you will need to visit your doctor or dietician. Some light exercise may also be a necessity. Embrace what is vital such as diet, a cosy massage and do away with what is irrelevant. You can get a confinement nanny to help you around during the period.