Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breaking Rules of Confinement

Confinement (坐月), literally means "sit for one month (at home)" to me when I first heard of this term.

To Chinese, it is a period (28-40 days) for a new mother to recover after delivery. There are many "do" and "don't" during confinement, for example, do not drink plain water, do not bath with / touch tap water, do not wash hair, have to eat ginger, etc etc.

For my first delivery, my mother-in-law looked after me and baby, while for my secondary delivery, we hired a confinement lady to help, as my mother-in-law helped to look after our elder child. Both my mother-in-law and the confinement lady believe in confinement rules, but I was a rule-breaker, doing opposite things secretly. As you know, the consequence for not obeying mother-in-law's instruction will be terrible. Shhhhh....

They told me not to drink plain water, should drink longan and red date tea or milo instead. They said that drinking too much plain water may cause water retention. As a water pail (水桶), I like to drink a lot of water since young. I would still drink the beverages they prepared for me, but secretly I filled my water bottle every day and drank plain water from my bottle. A second thought, the main component of longan and red date tea or milo is also water, so why wouldn't these cause water retention as well?? As I was breastfeeding totally (no milk powder at all), I needed to have plenty of fluid to produce milk for my baby.

They told me not to bath using tap water, should bath with rice wine (according to mother-in-law) or herb (according to confinement lady). They also told me not to wash my hair. Because they believe that bathing with tap water and washing hair may cause rheumatism. But again, since I was breastfeeding, I found it uncomfortable to smell like rice wine or herb, or carry stink of oily hair and perspiration when I nursed my baby. I think I would go crazy if I do not bath and wash my hair for more than 24 hours! I believe that a warm bath is essential for hygienic purpose, especially for breastfeeding mums, and also to distress myself from the "baby blues". I could still remember that when my mother-in-law went to market every morning, I would use this opportunity to bath and wash hair, and quickly dried my hair using hair dryer. A clean job was done by the time she reached home. When she bought the rice wine, I just 意思意思 poured a bit on my arms and poured away the rest, so that I would carry some frangance / smell of rice wine and she would be pleased that I followed her instruction!

They told me to eat ginger to get rid of the "wind" and drink some DOM to increase blood circulation. I did not like ginger at all, and again because of breastfeeding, alcohol is a big no-no since it would be transmitted to my milk and causes harm to my baby. I told them that I could not eat ginger and drink alcohol, of course, did not go on the lecture about the harm brought by alcohol.

They also advised me not to touch cold tap water too frequently. But I started to bath my baby 10 days after delivery, as I needed to practise before my mother-in-law and confinement lady left at the end of confinement period. I also love to use this opportunity to bond with my baby. On top of latching my baby, I also used breastpump to express my breastmilk in order to boost my supply, and inevitably, I had to touch tap water when I washed the bottles and pump accessories. Although they offered to help to wash, I would prefer to wash the pump accessories by myself.

Breaking rules is not to challenge the elders' advice, but to do what is right for myself and baby.

If the elders are not pleased that we break the rules, the best way to explain is "Doctor told me so!"

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  1. Haha.. you naughty girl. I don't get the no touching tap water rule either, as I've already bathed and touched tap water during my hospital stay. Oh, I also used to sit right in front of a blasting cold air-con, much to the dismay of the confinement lady.


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