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Postpartum Confinement

Postpartum Confinement

In many Asian cultures, the first month right after child-birth is believed to be crucial for haste recovery and long-term health for the woman. In ancient time, the new mother was not allowed outdoor at all during the first 30 days after she gave birth. It is known as ‘postpartum confinement’. During the confinement period, she was not allowed to shower or shampoo; not even tooth-brushing. She had to stick to a very strict diet and no exercise of any sort was allowed. Basically, she was allowed to do only one thing – just complete rest. 

This impossible custom, believe it or not, has been in practice for thousands of years, and is still carried out in many Asian cultures up to the present day. But thanks to modern medicine, many Asian women go through the ‘postpartum confinement’ in a more reasonable and hygienic way.

Rule to break: Do not step foot outside the house!

Traditional Chinese medicine believed that many diseases were spread by air. A woman’s body is exhausted during the child-birth process and so it is more vulnerable to catching diseases. If she catches a disease during this period, the disease can penetrate more deeply into the system, compromising her immune system and permanently weakening her body.
Many women who have refused to undergo the confinement do find their body weakened after child-birth. Since the traditions have been tested for thousands of years and many women have benefited from it; many Asian women, even those who have received western education, are willing to give it a try. After all, it is just one month and you are supposed to benefit from for the rest of your life. But instead of staying indoor for the entire month, you can still go places in your own vehicle. You can go to the park to breath in some fresh air. But do try to stay away from places that are too crowded and where ventilation is bad.  The idea is try to avoid getting sick in this one month.

Rules to break: Do not shower. Do not Shampoo

In ancient time, houses were built shabbily. There were cracks where cold air could seep into the house. There was no hot water or heater. So the woman could easily catch a cold when she showered or shampooed. But our modern bathroom is a different story. With hot water and heater, you can definitely enjoy your shower every day.

A woman right after child birth tends to sweat much more than normal. She is also expected to bleed for several weeks.  Regular shower surely can be refreshing and make you feel more pleasant. A new mother is also having very close contact with the baby. Thus personal hygiene is very important.

If you recover well, you should be able to take your first shower and shampoo the following day. But you should avoid showering in cold water. Shower with warm water and make sure you turn up the heater in the bathroom. Dry your body and hair right away.

Avoid taking a bath during this period because it is easier to get an infection. If you have a large incision or severe vaginal tear, you should do a sponge bath instead of showering. 

Rules to break: No tooth-brushing or hair-combing

There is a myth saying that if you brush your teeth during the confinement period, your teeth will fall out. Like-wise for the hair. This is absolutely without scientific proof. You can totally ignore these.

During pregnancy, a woman may become calcium-deficient as the fetus draws a lot of calcium from the mother. If she is severely deprived of calcium, her teeth can fall off. But it is not because of tooth-brushing. Nowadays, pre-natal supplements are recommended for the pregnant woman. If the doctor feels a strong need for the woman to take in more calcium, calcium supplement will be recommended. Including low-fat milk and lots of green vegetables in the diet will surely help increase calcium intake.

We lose some hair every day. But a woman after child-birth may lose more hair because of the hormonal changes in the body. Brushing your hair is a way to massage the scalp and improve blood circulation. It will keep your scalp and hair healthy.

Rule to break: Bed-rest through the confinement

Stay lying down for prolonged period of time is unfavourable for uterus contraction. Usually, woman can start walking around and doing some mild exercise the day after child-birth. This will help bowel movement and the discharge of lochia.

But you should not engage in heavy lifting and labor work in the first 6 months. It may lead to uterine prolapse.

Rule to break: Do not eat fruit and vegetables

In Traditional Chinese medicine, foods can be ‘cooling’, ‘heaty’ or neutral. Most fruit and vegetables are regarded as of ‘cooling’ properties.

Older folks believe that fruit and vegetables are not good for woman right after child birth because of their ‘cooling’ properties. But not all the fruit and vegetables are ‘cooling’. Woman should avoid winter melon, water melon, pear, star-fruit and bak choy during the confinement. But she can still eat kiwi fruit, apple, peach, papaya, longan, broccoli, kale and lotus root.

Many women suffer from varying degree of constipation after giving birth.  Thus, a high-fibre diet will certainly help bowel movement.
Tomatoes, carrot, green pepper, corn, potato, cabbage, papaya, essence of chicken are of high nutritious value and can help lactation.

Rule to break:  Drink double-boiled chicken soup every day

In ancient time, women did not have the same level of pre-natal care as the present day. So it was very important to replenish her body by drinking chicken soup every day as part of the postpartum care. But who has the time to double-boil chicken soup everyday? Nowadays, there are ready-to-drink double-boiled chicken soups like BRAND’S Essence of Chicken Drink. A woman can have access to chicken soup everyday without going into the trouble of making it. BRAND’S is the only scientifically-proven Essence of Chicken Drink that can help replenish and fight fatigue as well as promoting lactation. 
After giving birth, she may have little appetite or a weakened stomach. She may benefit from taking BRAND’S Bird’s Nest Drink to improve her appetite. 
After regaining appetite, she should start a balanced diet with lean meat and high fibre food. 

Rule to break: Limit water intake

Some people believe that drinking water will cause swelling. It is not true. After giving birth, a woman tends to sweat more and become thirsty more easily. She must drink a lot of water. Water is also the main component of breast milk.

Different provinces have different traditions. Some recommend replacing water with rice wine in cooking; some recommend ginger tea or Eucommia tea. But water is very important and cannot be replaced. If alcohol is consumed, wait at least 2 hours before nursing the baby.

Giving birth is challenging process. The first month is crucial for full recovery after child-birth. If follow the rules wisely, the woman can benefit from the postpartum confinement for the rest of her life. 

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