Not showering for a month? Abstaining from sex to prevent your womb from dropping? Sounds ridiculous? It probably is. Learn the truths behind traditional practices to survive your confinement.
Confinement should vary depending on your health, living conditions and delivery method. We speak to experts to demystify common confinement practices.
Myth: The mother should not wash her hair or bathe during the confinement period (30 days for Chinese, 44 days for Malays and Indians). They can only bathe with warm herb water or risk getting rheumatism, arthritis, headaches and body pains.
Fact: This probably originated from olden times when water facilities were scarce and often unsanitary. Still, water may contain harmful bacteria. Besides maintaining comfort, regular bathing helps to prevent skin and wound infections. According to Ms Jin Jin Hua, you can use warm water (about 37o C), keep the shower short, and dry your body immediately after bathing to prevent exposure to cold air. However, avoid bathing if your wound has not healed.
Myth: You must take lots of herbal supplements and include alcohol in your diet as these will help you regain your ‘qi’ and blood, boost blood circulation and warm up the body.
Fact: Alcohol is not essential to your recovery. Ms Sinaram explained that nursing mothers should avoid alcohol as it can be passed to the baby through their breast milk. Tonics should be taken in consultation with a qualified TCM physician for personalised advice and treatment as every woman’s health profile is different.
Myth: New mums must be covered up, avoid having the soles of her feet touch the floor, and not turn on the air-conditioning or fan. Exposure to cool air will cause ‘wind’ to enter the body and lead to health problems later in life.
Fact: Depending on the individual’s condition and the environment she is in, this may not be practical and could lead to heat rash and heat stroke. However, Ms Jin advised to stay away from direct wind and to keep the place well-ventilated.
Myth: The mother is not allowed to drink water as it causes water retention. Only red date and longan tea are allowed, as longan is ‘warm’ and beneficial to the heart and kidneys while red dates are nourishing for the blood.
Fact: According to Dr Cordelia Han, new mothers are encouraged to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as they tend to perspire more due to hormonal changes. Breastfeeding mothers should have a glass of water every time they nurse, added Ms Sinaram. Opt for porridge, soup or juice for added nutrition and hydration.
Myth: The mother must lie in bed, avoid physical tasks including sex, or her womb may ‘drop’.
Fact: After giving birth, your joints may be weak and loose, so it would be wise to avoid strenuous physical tasks. However, light activities are allowed, though water activities should be avoided. Ms Jin added that new mothers should stay at home, avoid strenuous activities and get ample rest.
Article Source: Raffles Health News. February, 2015. Quoting [Ms Sarah Sinaram] and Dr Cordelia Han Chih Chih.
Images Source: Pexels.