Post-Natal Confinement Practices and Taboos

Confinement typically involves the mother or mother-in-law caring for the new mom. More recently, Chinese mothers hire confinement nannies to help them by cooking meals and caring for the newborn baby.

How Long Does Confinement Last?

The length of the confinement period varies with each culture. Indian cultures have a confinement period which lasts 30 to 40 days. Chinese cultures practice confinement for an entire month following the infant’s birth. Confinement lasts 44 days for the Malays.

Occasionally, the confinement period lasts longer than tradition calls for, based on the mother’s health during the postpartum period. Mothers who had a c-section may choose to have a longer confinement period while the incision heals.

What are the Restrictions?

The confinement period involves avoiding any physical work, including sexual intercourse. Mothers must stay indoors for the entire period, to avoid becoming cool. Chinese cultures require mothers to avoid washing their hair for the entire period of confinement. It is important that a mother avoids anything that could make her cold during the entire confinement period, including fans and air conditioning.

For both Indians and Chinese cultures, mothers can only bathe in a special herbal water. In Indian cultures, the mother receives a daily massage using special oil blends. This is believed the help the mother get back into shape quicker.

In Malay cultures, the mother receives a daily 幸福椅 abdomen massage and has the stomach bound with a long cloth. Hot stones are also used on the abdomen to cleanse the womb. Malays feel that these practices help to reduce the time it takes for the uterus to heal and shrink to normal size.

Confinement Special Diets

Confinement requires that mothers follow a special diet to warm the body and boost the immune system. Any cooling foods are to be avoided – this includes cucumber, cold drinks, coconut, pineapple and water spinach. Lots of fish is eaten in both Malay and Chinese cultures, as it helps to boost milk supply and promote internal healing.

Colic-causing foods are to be avoided during the confinement period. Some foods that are believed to cause infant colic include onions, jackfruit and other windy fruits and vegetables. Indian cultures focus on eating foods that help to increase a mother’s milk supply, such as gourds and betle leaves.

Although the confinement period places a lot of restriction on new mothers, it can be a very helpful time in which she is able to rest. Having help with meals and caring for the baby, especially during the night, can help a mother’s body to get back to normal quickly through relaxation and good health.



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