At Confinement Care, we want to share some additional considerations that may further guide you with your confinement decisions, so you can feel comfortable with your choices of confinement practices. Remember, confinement is about your recovery, so the choices are yours.
- Evaluate confinement advice you receive. Everyone around you will have opinions about what helps and what doesn't. Some advice will conflict, and lists of Do's and Dont's about confinement practices won't be the same. You may also hear stories about relatives who arrogantly rejected confinement practices and is now suffering the consequences. There are probably some levels of wisdom and rationale behind every advice; however, just because a technique has helped one person, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work for you. We believe it is important that you do your research, or consult someone who has done these researches to find out what is best for you.
Give your body every chance to recover. Although pregnancy is not an 'illness', your body uses a lot of physiological resources to raise the baby in your womb. In the month
following your child birth, do give your body every chance to rest and recover. Some new mothers experience easy births and are tempted to return to work within the first month, or even go on
a holiday. But these activities can be too exhausting for your body, and so should be avoided. On the other extreme, some mothers stay in their bed 24/7 except for toilet visits. Be aware
that this will cause other health complications such as muscle wastage and will eventually prolong the time needed for your recovery.
We recommend that you rest sufficiently and balance this rest with light exercises (follow recommendations from your obstetrician, midwife or other registered health professional). A recent study in Taiwan showed that light exercises during confinement made significant contributions to a mother's recovery. Remember, the focus is on recovery, which takes a combination of rest and appropriate physical activities.
Be prepared to face pressures from
family members over
conflicting confinement practices.
Out of love, care and concerns, people of the older generation will sometimes want to impart (and even enforce) their own advice on the new mother. When these advice conflicts with the new
mother's own desire and preferences, it leads to conflicts. Many studies in South East Asian countries reveal that confinement cultures and preferences can create a lot of tension in
inter-personal relationships, and is particularly common between the new mother and her mother-in-law. If you expect to be in a similar situation, remember that the 'enforcer' is most likely
doing so with a good intention (but not executed well). You can try to point out that many traditional confinement practices were essential to mothers giving birth in colder and less hygienic
environments in the past (remember access to warm homes, hot showers with clean water and electric hair dryers are not common to where many confinement practices started, so some confinement
practices would definitely have protected new mothers to infections), but point out that modern homes and technologies make some restrictions unnecessary. If a friend or relative is enforcing
confinement practices that you are uncomfortable with, and especially if you consider them to be based on superstitions, you can:
- thank them for the advice, then
- assertively point out that you are uncomfortable with the practice so you will not follow that particular advice.
It is important that you are assertive at this point because giving in to these pressures will most likely have a negative impact on your emotional being over the whole confinement period. To help ease their concerns, gently let them know why you and others (researchers and trained Chinese Medicine practitioners) believe some practices are unnecessary in our modern homes today. If you are engaging an accredited Chinese Medicine practitioner to oversee your needs, let them know about the advice from your practitioner, and the comprehensive services that you are getting from him/her.
- Not the time for intensive weight loss. Breastfeeding or not, what you eat will affect your recovery. It is important to eat a variety of healthy food that contains food from all levels of the food pyramid. Unless your GP (or registered medical specialists) asks you to, avoid intensive weight reduction diet programs during the confinement period. Carefully consider your choice of diet programs, some diet programs limit the nutrients that your body needs. Chinese Medicine practitioners will typically recommend for the inclusion of meat, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and to limit uncooked food (eg. salads) eaten as a meal, and avoid drinks that are colder than room temperature.
- Consider confinement meal plans. Food is medicine, and the right meal plan will aid your recovery during the confinement period. You can find confinement meal schedules in books and on many websites. However, almost all of these are from overseas authors and publishers, and they include ingredients that are difficult to buy in Australia. We also noticed some authors unnecessarily include expensive ingredients that serve little or no medicinal purposes. Before committing to a meal plan, evaluate if you can access all the ingredients with ease. Also check with a registered Chinese Medicine practitioner to see if the herbal inclusions in these recipes are appropriate for you. Remember there are other options to confinement meal plans, if it is difficult for you to follow a confinement meal plan, consider using Chinese herbs (such as our 28 days herbal granule pack) to compliment a typical balanced diet to support your recovery.
- Check your supplements and herbs. If you are breastfeeding, use supplements and herbs that have been tested against heavy metal contamination. This is also an important precaution for all mothers during pregnancy.
- You don't need rare and exotic herbs. Many Asians believe in the need to consume very expensive herbs in significant life events (eg. child birth, onset of major illnesses). However, rare and exotic herbs consumed simply for its rarity or because 'everyone else says its good' is not likely to give you any benefits, and in some situations, may even work against your constitution.
- You will benefit from herbs formulated by a registered Chinese Medicine practitioner. Instead of consuming single expensive herbal or animal products, consider taking herbs which have been carefully formulated and prescribed to your needs using Chinese Medicine principals. Formal Traditional Chinese Medicine training in Australia equips practitioners to use accessible ingredients for all conditions. Your accredited Chinese Medicine practitioner should be able to create your formula using herbs that are affordable and approved for sale and consumption in Australia. Confinement Care provides a range of options to help you benefit from Chinese Medicine herbs during the confinement period. Visit our [Services] page for more information.
- Confronting confinement myths. It is impossible for us to respond to all confinement advice and myths, and the practices we know of are probably just the tip of a big iceberg. To help our readers, we have outlined and responded to some of the most common myths. These responses are freely accessible on our blog. If you are wondering if you should following a confinement practice that we haven't spoken of, our advice is that you evaluate whether you are comfortable in exercising it. If the practice does not have any supporting evidence, and causes you discomfort (physical or emotional), our generic recommendation is to not engage or to cease this practice. Your best option of course, is to consult a registered Chinese Medicine practitioner about your specific concerns.
Remember, every individual is different and the thoughts above are only general and may or may not be applicable to you. At Confinement Care, we believe every mother can benefit from practicing confinement that is built on sound Chinese Medicine principals, and so we have tailored a number of services that include extended consultations so there is enough time to give our customers detailed advice, and to address specific concerns. To see how we can help with your confinement needs, visit our [Services] page.