Traditional Chinese Post Natal Care - Confinement Food and Practices

Published: 12th June 2009
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Postnatal confinement period refers to a traditionally Chinese practice where new mothers observe various routines fairly diverse from regular day-to-day living for a period ranging from one week to before the baby first month celebration.

These routine primarily include following a special confinement food menu tailored to help accelerate the new mother's recovery from her weakened condition post childbirth. This special diet is made up of confinement foods targeted towards specific functions like dispelling "wind" from the body, quelling "heatiness", boosting blood circulation, revitalizing strength etc.

The mainstay of confinement food comprises common ingredients found in any regular Chinese diet; ginger, egg, sesame oil, black vinegar, Chinese rice wine, pepper, chicken, fish and pork.

Other ingredients of confinement food include fairly general herbal provisions like Chinese wolfberry (Gou Qi), angelica (Dang Gui), red dates, dried longans, to not so commonly consumed items like Encommiae Bark (Du Zhong) and Polygonum (He Shou Wu).

Apart from harnessing healing benefits from food, numerous practices are abided to as reinforcements and preventive measures against the possible onset of ailments commonly associated with post delivery aftermaths eg. postnatal hair loss, back aches, rheumatism, premature ageing etc.

In essence, the list of practices are meant to shield the body from excessive exposure to elements like "wind" and damp air, both of which are believed to be main culprits responsible for causing bodily aches and pains, migraines as well as rheumatism.

A basic list of confinement Don'ts to avoid "wind" from "chilling" the body would include:

1. Do not shower or wash your hair.

2. Do not sleep in front of the fan or air conditioning unit or have direct contact with cold, constantly blowing wind.

3. Do not drink cold or chilled drinks.

4. Do not consume excessively "cooling" foods (like kang kong, cucumber, Brinjal, Chinese pears, barley etc.

To minimise weakening the body, practise simple Don'ts like:

5. Do not lift heavy objects or overexert the body excessively.



6. Do not engage in strenuous/ high impact exercises.

Realistically, some "Don'ts" mentioned above may appear difficult to follow through. To overcome them, adopt these recommendations:

1. If you must shower, use hot water and take extra care to dry yourself thoroughly before stepping out of the bathroom. Try not to wash your hair for at least one week. Alternatively, use herbal dry shampoos to clean your hair.

2. Sleep in a cool and dry room; if you must use air-conditioning, keep it at fan mode, not lower than 26C.

3. Drink warm water; ideally consume red dates tea brewed with dried longan or Chinese wolfberry (Gou Qi).

4. Eat a nutritious diet comprising confinement foods tailored to dispel "wind", revitalize internal strength and boost blood circulation.

5. Safeguard your womb/c-section wound; avoid lifting heavy loads. If you need to carry your baby, make sure you attempt to do so while seated.

6. If you must exercise, stick to light exercises like walking or mild stretching only after 2 weeks; taking care not injure your c-section wound.

Lastly, it is important to note that the fundamental key to a smooth and complete recovery from the exertions of childbirth is to take a holistic approach during the confinement period by having ample rest, eating a nutritious diet of quality confinement food and pragmatically adopting the routines outlined in this article.

Find out more about confinement food delivery in Singapore, please see "confinement food Singapore"


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