5 Confinement truths or myths
Confinement is enshrouded in Asian culture and many practices are deep-rooted. But are these confinement practices medically sound?
Confinement is a special time for your body to recuperate from childbirth. Confinement is cultural to many Asians. But remember that these practices were relevant to those ancient days when mother and baby mortality rates were high. It was a time without proper sanitation or even antibiotics. Thus, it was a safe practice to confine both baby and mother indoors during the first month. This was meant to protect mother and baby from ill health. This was the origin of confinement practices.
By now, you may not agree with them but many of these are deep-rooted in our Asian culture although some may not be medically sound. They range from the prohibition of doing certain daily tasks to the restriction of certain food intake — with the strong belief that these can provide adequate rest and replenishment during this period.
Myths vs Truths (From a Doctor's perspective)
No bathing or hair-washing for one month
I protest to this habit which is not hygienic nor humane. Bathing is a basic human right and keeps you clean, relaxed and happy. It also reduces the episiotomy or C-section wound infection. And makes it bearable for all around you.
No drinking of water
Hydration is so crucial for survival and also ensures good lactation. Otherwise, milk flow will diminish drastically. This is my #2 protest against illogical practice.
No leaving of house for a month
Protest #3. This is done to prevent infection to the mothers during ancient times. This is against human rights to imprison a new mother at home for a month. And it will worsen her postnatal blues and cause her to lapse into depressions.
To take food with ginger to purge the "wind" in the body
Cooking yummy confinement food to replenish the weakened body is appreciated by the new mum. Remember to eat healthy food containing liver and red meats to replenish blood loss at delivery. This practice can be advocated.
Not to think negative thoughts
This is good practice so that the new mothers can be positive. Postnatal Blues are common and should be coped with supportive family. I advocate this.
Written by: Dr. Tan Thiam Chye