Confinement. Ahhh.....the Holy grail of all mothers. The month of serenity, restoration, peace and relaxation. Wait, oh, sorry. That's just my imagination running wild. Serenity? Restoration? *Bursts into an uncontrollable laughter. Show me any mother (the rich and famous don't count) who gets to really rejuvenate during their confinement period and I will wash their bathroom for a whole month.
Confinement after birth typically applies to Asian families and can be seen practised by a number of mothers from the west as well. It is during this time that mothers are expected to stay at home and to recover from the rigours of labor and pregnancy. Traditionally, a mother who is in confinement should stay at home (preferably in her room) and shun all visitors.
Basically they are to turn into a Lone Ranger for a whole month. For food, they are advised to eat healthy chicken broths with tons and tons of alcohol (Methinks some mothers' eyes are perking up) and are advised to avoid bathing for at least a week (ayeeeee!) and to not wash their hair for at least a month (nooooooooo).
Apparently the older generation swear by this 'confinement law.' So what this article aims to do is to enlighten us all on the most popular confinement rules. Are they for real? Will we really turn into old hags if we don't heed them? Well, let's find out shall we?
This taboo is apparently shared by many Asian races. Legend has it that tragedy will befall on whosoever dares to set foot out of their house. Is this for real?
Well, we have to keep in mind that these taboos and myths originated from a long time ago. Back then technology and medicine were in their infantile stages and people feared that mothers who were weak from pregnancy and labor would easily fall sick if they were to step out in the scorching sun or blazing wind.
So while we as a civilization have evolved over the past few centuries, the practice of staying at home is very much still in practice. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
9 Can't Cook or Clean
Hah. This I like. Apparently if you defy this taboo, you are likely to lose whatever beauty you have left. But seriously, who wouldn't want to obey this rule?
Truth be told there is logic in this rule. Say you've just delivered your newborn and are still recovering from the many sleepless nights and aching backs, the last thing you need is to add more physical stress to your body and mind. Ladies you need to rest and rest and rest!
Women who overwork and lack sleep really do age faster you now. So unless you have a team of botox specialists ready, I'd suggest you kick off your shoes, sit back and relax. God knows you'll be a *cough* slave *cough* to your child for the rest of your life.
8 No Hair Washing for a Month
After the OMG and WTF, settle down and chill for a moment. Rule no. 8 most likely originated from eons ago when civilization had very poor medical care and no power supply whatsoever. Mothers back then feared they would end up with rheumatism if they bathed in ice cold water.
Granted, their immune system would have been at an all time low with all the energy zapped during labor and from having to carry a little hoarder in their belly for 9 months. But these days, women wash their hair whenever they are up to it and this act should not worry you so long as you keep warm afterwards.
In fact it might be good to wash our hair as often as possible during the first month. Once your child grows bigger and starts to crawl or develops the 'mummy attachment' syndrome, you can kiss your personal time in the bathroom goodbye.
7 Consume Some Alcohol
Aha! Did one of you just jump for joy? But rejoice not. This isn't Pinot Noir or Chardonnay we are talking about. We're talking about hard core alcohol that is cooked together with all your meals for the next 30 - 40 plus days.
Imagine having chicken cooked in an alcoholic broth on Monday, steamed pork with alcohol on Tuesday, beef casserole with alcohol on Wednesday, etc.
While that may be heaven for some, others will probably develop a phobia towards alcohol. Some western practitioners might advise against it (the general conception is that a small percentage of the alcohol might make its way to your breast milk. How that works I do not know), many mothers still opt to follow this regime of consuming alcohol with their food.
The reason given is that alcohol warms your body and promotes blood flow. This in turn will help to accelerate the healing process of the mother.
6 No Cold Drinks
What? No! What if it's summer time? Everyone has cold drinks and ice cream during summer! Well...no one's stopping you from destroying your body (so says the wise and healthy old lady who has given birth to 13 children).
Actually the reason why cold drinks are discouraged is that old folks believe that when cold liquid enters your body, it will cause the blood flow to slow down and eventually bring about blood clots in your uterus. Laugh all you want, but there's actually truth in this myth. Apparently studies have proven that one should keep one's body warm (warning : no cold drinks) as the coldness can constrict blood vessels.
However this does not mean that you have to keep drinking piping hot drinks everyday, it's just that you should limit your intake of cold drinks. Sneaking a popsicle or downing a little cup of chocolate chip ice cream never hurt anyone.
5 Daily Massages
Some families hire a professional masseuse to massage the abdomen while others opt to do it themselves with special oil, like mustard seeds oil or sesame oil.
The reason why massages are required is simple. They are meant to help firm your sagging stomach in hopes that you'll gain back your pre pregnancy body shape (falls off chair and rolls on floor laughing. Is that even possible?)
Well, if you go for massages AND exercise then that should not be an issue. Else, dream on ladies (continues laughing while looking at sagging tummy).
4 Keep Doors and Windows Shut
Ack! You'd think you were Saddam hiding from George. Why should you have to live like a refugee throughout the duration of your confinement period? You've done nothing wrong. In fact you should be a proud mother standing at the doorstep or at the picket fence waving to everyone who passes by.
Well, according to the elderly, olden houses were poorly built and constructed to protect you from the wind and rain. So lest you do not mind catching pneumonia before your child learns how to say 'mama', the elderly would very much suggest that you stay indoors and away from the brutal weather outside. Of course the elderly have probably forgotten that this is the 21st century.
3 Bathe with Herbs
No my dear, these are not the aromatic herbs from the kama sutra movie. These are more like bitter smelling herbs that would put a skunk to shame. Kidding. They're actually not that bad although some of the herbs used can emit a strange smell and probably darken the water that you bathe in.
Even though they can be a turn off, the herbs are meant to soothe your body and to promote healing. They are also meant to make your skin more supple and younger looking. So ladies, what are you waiting for?
2 Hire a Confinement Lady
Because the confinement lady knows EVERYTHING while you know NOTHING. That's just depressing. Apparently one is supposed to eat whatever the confinement lady cooks (read: alcoholic meals) and let her handle your child for the first month (Ummm...okay...I can trust some stranger to look after my newborn right?)
This is very much practised in Asia where confinement ladies can earn roughly between 4 thousand to 40 thousand a month just to look after your newborn child (gasps! Where do I sign up?) But with an experienced confinement lady, first time mothers actually get to benefit a lot as these ladies will be there to guide them in the journey of raising their newborn.
1 Abstain From Sex
Blink Blink. Come again? Some new mothers rejoice and throw confetti in the background while others shake their fists in the air. To be honest, this makes sense. You've probably just torn your vagina or had your belly cut open, are still recovering from the wounds, have to live like a zombie while caring for your newborn, most mothers would probably not be interested in sex. So the 'sabbath' might actually be a good one. Rest while you can ladies, you'll have plenty of time for 'fun' once the confinement month is over. Besides, it'll give you time to try and get back to shape.
References : www.babycenter.com, www.sassymamasg.com, www.cycleharmony.com