Sunday, June 14, 2009

Confinement Rules – A Guide To New Mothers

Last month, a dear friend of mine gave birth to this cute and healthy baby boy named Elliot. I heard this from someone that baby tend to look like their father at birth so that the father know that it was his bloodline. Not surprisingly, Elliot looked exactly like his father. He weighs 3.7 kg at birth with a pair of huge ruby cheeks and had a head of thick hair. A marvel we all exclaimed as we could not believe that the first time mother could eat her way to such healthy weight baby.

I carried him in my arms, feeling rather sad that I have missed out the first part of his life completely (a long story...). Though only one day old, he was already very active, constantly moving. He also proven to me that natal education really work and is important. While we were chatting, sleepy-eyed Elliot opened his eye immediately when heard of keywords like “secrets” and “gossips”, an uncanny resemblance of his mother. Ha! A very bright baby if you asked me. ;)

As the title goes, this post is about confinement rules. Unlike the westerners, Chinese and most Asians have rules and some supersititions that women who had just given birth had to abide by closly. My dear friend managed to take some time-off from Elliot and compiled this list of updated Confinement Rules for my reference, hoping that I could share them with netters on my blog. Despite modernisation, many modern women who are still traditional at heart would still follow them closely.

I supposed confinement rules were first started few hundred years ago where sanitary conditions were not good then. Women who had given birth are weak and might have wounds, exposing them out in the elements would heighten the chance of getting infection. Thus the first and foremost rule was to forbid women to go out of their bedroom after they had given birth. Many women still followed the rule today and I supposed it is still relevant in today’s context.

I meant although sanitary conditions of our surroundings improved greatly, but women are still weak during the first few days of giving birth. I supposed “confine” them in a room reduces exposure to the elements and thus less chances of getting illness or infection. Though the actual rule stated one month, I thought it will be more practical to reduce it to 2 weeks. However, do not get me wrong, I do think some of the rules have good reasons and should be followed.

Confinement Rules Which My Friend Followed:

First 7 days

1) Cannot eat chicken meat

Chinese believed that it will cause infection to wound

2) Cannot consume wine or herbs

Chinese believed that as body is still weak, it would have difficulties absorbing nutrients of tonic.

3) It is not advisable to do Malay wrap(Jambu) immediately after delivery.

It is better to wait till the 7th day for normal delivery. For C-section patients, wait at least 10 days.

4) Mothers should not take too much ginger as it may cause jaundice in babies.

First 14 days

1) No baths or hair wash

Old Chinese believed that mothers who have just given birth should not “touch” water as it would result in rheumatism. I remembered my Home Economics Teacher gave another explanation which I find sounded more scientific. When giving birth, as one experience much pain, their pores would be forced to open up after that. There is higher chance of them catching a cold if they bath immediately. Also, blood loss during child birth also weakens the mother. As we bath, blood pressure would fluctuate thus women who had just given birth might just faint in it.

On the other hand, I think it is unhygienic not to bath for so many days especially in tropical Singapore. My dear friend followed the rule closely and really did not bath for 3 weeks. I salute her for it. If it was me, I would probably bath after a few days.

2) Daily wiping of body is allowed

Though bath is not allowed, women are allowed to wipe their bodies with damp towel. The water has to be mix with Chinese white wine (30ml) into a pail of hot water or use the medicinal wash mixture. You can get the medicinal herbs from Chinese herb store.

During the Month

1) Do not have fan pointed directly at you

She said “This is nearly impossible to adhere in Singapore weather”

2) (But luckily for her) Aircon is allowed

I asked about this and she said because aircon gave constant temperature. Ignorant me would have thought fan is allowed instead.

3) Some mothers and mother-in-laws advised against drinking cool boiled water. However, some confinement nannies recommend water (warm) especially if one breastfeed.

I seriously think that they are referring to camels instead of human for this rule. I will die without drinking water.

3) Wear long sleeves shirt, long pants and socks after bath or when resting in aircon

4) One should try either breastfeed on baby's demand or to express milk for storage every 3 hours or when nipples tingle or drip milk.

Amazingly, she said mothers who are breastfeeding will "spray" milk when hear baby cry or saw her baby. Wow, I never know that.

5) Drink plenty of water before and after breastfeeding.

6) Wear slippers or sock at home
Feet cannot touch ground because one may have rheumatism if cold air entering body through the soles.

So, if you are a mother, how do you deal with confinement? What are some of more difficult things that you are required to follow? Or if you are not Chinese or Asian, what do you do after giving birth? Do you all have similar "Confinement Rules"? Leave me a note under comments!


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