The first month following the birth of a child is crucial for Chinese mothers. It’s a time when growth and recovery are key. According to Chinese tradition, the first month after giving birth is a crucial time for growth and recovery. Mothers and babies should stay indoors for between 30-40 days.
Chinese mothers have been following traditional confinement methods that are deeply rooted within traditional Chinese medicine for generations. Some mothers find it hard to follow them as they are restrictive and strict.
Find out if these common practices are true or false.
Confinement Myth #1 – Drink rice wine and other alcohol
Myth: Mums can’t drink water plain, but they can have alcohol. Consuming alcohol-based drinks, such as rice wine or eating alcohol-rich dishes, is thought to increase blood circulation and heat the body.
Fact: Although alcohol can cause blood vessels to clot, it is not necessary for the recovery of mothers who just gave birth. Mothers who are breastfeeding should abstain from alcohol consumption. A breastfeeding baby can experience severe side effects from excessive alcohol consumption, which could lead to impaired growth and development.
#2 Confinement Myth: Eat copious amounts ginger and herbal supplements
Myth: The goal of confinement is to restore a woman’s energy or qi. Because childbirth depletes a woman’s qi, it is important that she consume certain herbal soups and dishes to increase energy and blood flow. Consuming a lot ginger is also a good idea, as it promotes healing and increases milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
Fact: Mothers can eat ginger. Ginger-containing foods in confinement have many health benefits. They can reduce muscle pain and soreness. It is best to exercise caution when using herbal supplements. Many studies that attempt to prove the effectiveness of Chinese herbal supplements don’t provide any firm conclusions. Moreover, many Chinese herbal products are toxic, heavy metals, and pesticides. More than Chinese herbal medicine, a healthy diet that includes nutritious confinement foods will aid your recovery.
The Confinement Myth #3: Confinement food should contain only meat, liver, or herbs
Myth: Mothers are limited to eating meat, liver, or herbs during confinement. They are thought to be vital for heating the body as they provide excellent sources of iron and protein.
Fact: Although meat, liver and herbs are fine, mothers shouldn’t be restricted from eating these foods. To help restore nutrients, fruits and vegetables should make up half of a mother’s recovery diet. The rest should be whole grains such as brown rice and whole-grain bread. The food pyramid is the best way to go.
Confinement Myth #4: Don’t drink plain water
Myth: Plain water in confinement can increase water retention, which will cause the body’s temperature to drop. This could lead to the body becoming “windy”.
Fact: Breastfeeding mothers need to keep hydrated. An adult should drink 8 glasses of water per day. Breastfeeding mothers should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. You should drink at least one glass of water each breastfeeding session (8-10 times per day).
Confinement Myth #5 – Don’t take a shower or a bath
Myth: Cold water can cause “wind” to enter your body. This can lead to many diseases later in life, such as arthritis and chronic headaches.
Fact: It is essential to maintain good personal hygiene after giving birth. This includes taking a shower. To promote wound healing and avoid infection, it’s especially important to keep your perineum (the area between the genitals & the anus) clean.
Confinement Myth #6 – Wear warm clothes and don’t use air conditioners or fans
Myth: The purpose of confinement is to keep warm and prevent “wind” from entering your body. Mothers are advised to dress warmly, even in hot weather, and not use air conditioning or fans.
Fact: Mothers’ hormone levels can change after childbirth as their bodies adjust to no longer being pregnant. These hormone changes can lead to temperature fluctuations. Women might also sweat more in order to eliminate excess fluid. Night sweats can disrupt a mother’s sleep, cause irritation, and impact her quality of living. Postpartum sweating can be managed by staying cool, wearing comfortable clothes, and drinking plenty of fluids.
Confinement Myth #7 – Don’t cry or read
Myth: According to traditional Chinese medicine, childbirth can weaken the liver that is connected to the eyes. To avoid stressing the eyes, mothers should not cry or read during pregnancy.
This belief is not supported by scientific evidence. Although prolonged reading fine print can cause eye strain, evidence does not support that it causes direct damage to the eyes.
Crying is the same. Crying can help you deal with stress and emotions associated with being a mother. It is often called the postnatal blues or babyblues. This is usually a result of hormonal fluctuations after childbirth and can last up to two weeks.
Some mothers may experience postpartum depression. This is a longer-lasting, more severe form of depression that can last for several months. The symptoms usually appear within the first few weeks of giving birth. However, they can also develop during pregnancy or as long as a year. You may experience poor sleep, mood changes, and negative thoughts about yourself and your baby. Talk to your obstetrician immediately if you experience any signs of postpartum depression. You will feel better the sooner you seek treatment.
Confinement Myth #8 – You shouldn’t move or walk around in a confined area
Myth: After giving birth, muscle weakness can be increased by moving around or walking. This is why mothers should only be able to lie down during this time.
Fact: Mothers who just gave birth, especially those who had to have C-sections, need to rest. However they shouldn’t be restricted to lying down in bed. Experts advise new mothers to move as soon as they feel comfortable. This can reduce the risk of blood clots (deep-vein thrombosis).
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about pregnancy or confinement.
You might also be interested in learning more about post-natal health and how to take best care of your body following birth.