Childbirth is one of the most grueling physical ordeals a woman will ever encounter. That is why the idea that mothers need to recuperate from it is deeply entrenched in the Asian culture. Traditional confinement practices, ranging from food restrictions to the avoidance of certain tasks and places, are believed to be effective in helping mothers regain health. Are they merely old wives’ tales or do they have a medical basis? Let’s take a look at some popular practices.
‘If you bathe or come in contact with water, you risk having wind in your body.’
Myth. This practice was promoted in the olden days because tap water then was not sanitised and bathing in it could lead to an infection. However, in present day Singapore, not only does bathing promote good personal hygiene, you’ll feel more comfortable in our hot and humid climate.
‘You must avoid windy places and air-conditioning.’
Myth. Staying cool and comfortable can keep heat rash at bay.
‘You can only eat meat and liver.’
Myth. The reason behind this practice is that childbirth is a yin (cooling) process and mothers need to load up on yang (heating) foods during confinement.
‘ You should avoid sex for 40 days.’
Partly true. During the second stage of labour, some women have had their vagina opening cut to ease the delivery process. By avoiding sex for four to six weeks after delivery, you are allowing the wound to heal completely. Another reason to avoid sex during that period is most mothers will experience intermittent spotting or bleeding for six to eight weeks after childbirth.
‘Traditional Malay postnatal massages and wraps are good for regaining health.’
Myth. While these practices have not been proven scientifically, there may be some benefits behind them. If you choose to practice them, please do so in moderation to prevent burns. Mothers who have had a Caesarean section should delay these practices for a month to ensure full recovery of the wound.
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