Monday, May 30, 2011

The Modern Confinement according to Me

I haven't deliver yet. My water level's not that good. Doc's not letting me wait past my EDD, which is June 1. Which means, Mr R is coming out to meet the world by hook or by crook on Wednesday morning. I'm in perfect health, no blood sugar, no hypertension(instead I used to have hypo), no swelling, placenta's good, everything good! Just the water level. Sigh!!!

I'm praying hard that he'll be like his Lyanne Cheh-cheh who came out on her own on the day I was supposed to be induced. Lyanne was huge so doc won't let me past my EDD more than a week if I wanted natural birth. Perfect health as well. I hate being induced. It's super super super painful, leaving me with no time to breathe in between contractions.

 Well, each pregnancy, I'm always at the brink of having not enough amniotic fluid, and this time, it's kinda really low. So, maybe now you know why my weight increment is not that great. Still at about 3kg, haha! With the baby at 3.1kg now, last scanned on Saturday. I never have any water retention problem, no leg swelling, or whatsoever swelling. No increment of any size of anything on my body. Haha, yes. Just my belly.
It's not that I don't drink enough water, I don't have constipation problems, I just never retain liquids in my system. Even If I drink a mugful of water each 30 minutes, I'll go to toilet every half an hour and drain them all out.

Each time after deliver, I go through confinement. For those of you who have no idea what is confinement, it's a Chinese tradition of which after delivery, the lady stays home, rest and gets fed well, with lots of rules and regulations to ensure a proper healing and recuperation. Confinement 坐月子 is not only practiced by those from Chinese descent, but Malays, Indians and some other people from Asian countries. Engaging the same confinement lady, CL each time. It's not because she cooks well, but I like her attitude and her ability to shoot up from sleep and doze off with a count to 3. It makes us relieved to know that she is getting enough rest that she won't drop my baby off her arms due to sleeplessness. Good child care is more important than food.

This time around, as usual I prepared a weekly menu for my CL. I don't like to eat redundant things and it makes life easier for others, like MIL who will be doing the marketing for me. The last confinement (Lyanne's time), my CL made certain mistakes that I'll make sure she doesn't do that this time. I translated some of recipes on my blog in Chinese for her. I want some of the things cooked my way. She is the type of person who will take in suggestions and listens to us, her employer, rather than insisting in her own ways. An attitude suitable for modern confinement.

There are few things that I will love to talk about. You might disagree or laugh about it with me, but no matter what, it's 100% my personal opinion.

1. Confinement is old fashioned.
- Well, depends on how you look at it. Why reject a month of relaxation? It's a month where the mother gets to rest and eat well to recuperate. It should be the time to bond with the baby, with someone else taking care of other things for you, like chores. Why not? I believe that if one does not rest well during the 1st month, the 2nd month will be a nightmare when the baby starts to wake up more and throws more tantrums. There will be no time for rest, or even to catch quality sleep, not until many months later. The first month is a lot of sleeeeeping. So, why not sleep when the baby sleeps and think about nothing else. The best part is sleeping throughout the night.......... quality sleep for 30 days after 40 weeks of twisting and turning on the bed with a heavy belly and constant bathroom visits. The CL won't stay with you forever, it's just the crucial first month, so enjoy yourself.

2. No bathing
-Yucks!!! There's no winter here. It's summer whole year long. If red dates can be kept at room temp in China without any problems, try keeping your red dates in your cabinet. You'll see them growing fungus very soon. Imagine your body growing fungus and you are carrying the baby in your arms. Yucks!!!! The weather and climate here is absolutely different. My grandaunt (1903-1996) who came from China told my mom to bathe, and said , " You think this is China ah?" Grandaunt said, babies in China do not bathe. So, if you bathe your baby daily, why won't u bathe yourself? Yucks! If you really worry about "wind", gosh, there are bathing herbs, sold for few bucks per pack at Chinese herbal shops. They don't smell weird, but smells like herbal tea. I won't mind drinking them if they were sweetened. If tradition says no bathing, then why are there post partum bathing herbs? For watering plants meh?

3. One shouldn't touch unboiled water. Bathe, wash hands and gargle with cooled cooked water.
-Hey!!! Which century are you living in? Are you using river water? Well water? Gosh no! It's chlorinated pipe water. River water or well water may contain nematodes, parasites, germs and even traces human waste. So, if you don't boil it, chances are the wound down there might get infected and that's the last thing you ever want. But hey hey hey, we are using chlorinated pipe water now. So, do you think that is applicable now?

4. No drinking of plain water.
- Gosh. Since when plain water is bad for you? All red date teas or rice tea are infused with plain water. When they get into your body, it still gets separated as water and nutrients, so what's the difference?
Not enough water = constipation = chances of getting haemorrhoids

5. Wrap head and wear socks.
-Huh? In tropical Malaysia? Got to be kidding me. I don't want to perspire and carry my baby. That's the last thing I want to do. I don't want to smell like a dumpster and get athlete's food.

6. Not wash hair for a month.
-I don't really believe this, but to console my mom, I try my very best to wash after a week. And I make sure I get my mane cleaned before I go for my 10th day check up. I don't want to walk into the clinic as a stinking bomb. (the nurses do tell me many are stink bombs the moment the post partum ladies walk in for that checkup) It's embarassing! It's not that we are in China (again!!) that the weather is dry and cold. It's hot and humid here. And dirty hair grows germs and whatsoever.

7. Refrain from vegetables.
-As believed, vegetables are cooling, except for a few types like KaiLan. For me, I do not believe so. I need the fibre to get my bowels going. I don't want to have haemorrhoids just because I didn't eat enough vege during this month. I'm lucky to have a confinement lady, mother and mother in law that supports a healthy dose of vegetables. But I refrain from raw vege, and taro. I was told that taro will cause itching and hey, sometimes taros really does do that, even if one hasn't delivered a baby. I don't want to be scratching here and there. Not eating taro for a month won't kill me, but not eating vege for a month will.

8. Consume lots of expensive herbs.
- I don't believe in splurging on herbs. As long as I eat healthily with a balanced diet, I don't believe I have to down 38gm of Angelica (dang gui) daily. Somehow I feel herbal shops likes to say, "If you don't 'bou' now, old liao then you know". Cheh, who knows what will happen when I'm 50 or 60. Can they guarantee if I take 2kg of angelica throughout my confinement I'll be free of sickness when I'm 50. That's BS to me. To them, this is the best time to cut your throat, asking you to buy this and buy that, scaring you about the future. My mom said, "I never ate any of those, but hey look at me, I'm fine.". My mom ate a lot of black fungus of which is believed to help with expelling dirty blood from the body. No expensive herbs. Not to say that I do not consume any herbs, I do, but moderately. I still believe I need the extra nourishment besides a balanced diet, but not to splurge thousands of $$ on all the future predictions that no one can guarantee.
My aunt said, "Nowadays it's unlike the olden days where there were no supplements during pregnancy. It really feels weak after delivery, but if you consume every pill that your doc tell you to take in, the difference is 100% obvious. I know cos I was diligently popping pills for the first and last pregnancy and was lazy for the middle 2 babies. Lazy to pop pills and you'll suffer the consequences later." True story from my big aunt who believes in a balanced post partum diet.

9. Not going out for 1 month, lest you get "headwind".
-Errr... I do believe this to a certain extent.
*2 weeks after delivering Lydia, I brought her to a playground opposite my mom's place and sat on the swing. The late afternoon cool breeze was blowing while I was there. Just for 15 minutes. That night, I had mild headache.
*2 weeks after delivering Lyanne, I went to the balcony to hang the laundry as the confinement lady washed the clothes before she slept. I never like leaving the clothes in the machine overnight as it will make the clothes really crumpled. The night breeze was blowing. I had mild headache that night too.
*But for both babies, I drove to the hospital by myself to have my 10th day check up and even went shopping for baby necessities. I drove my mom to the market, went to herbal shops to get more dates and got stared at when they knew I was in confinement. Nothing happened, because there was no wind during all those times.
So, in my case, I believe when the breeze or the wind is there, get into the house. Go out to run errands if you must only during the day time when it's hot. After delivery, our pores are opened and can be susceptible to "cold wind". It could be and I'm telling you from my own experience. I'm not someone that has headaches all the time. I could count the times with only my right fingers. So far including these 2, I had only 4 headaches so far, with 2 already stated here. But I have the fan and aircond on at home throughout my confinement, not natural breeze :) It's indoors of Malaysia!!!

10. Drink lots of liquor, like DOM 
-No I don't.
Somehow I believe that in China, where it is really cold, liquor is one way to warm the body. Just like how Russians use Vodka as a body warming aid. It's so hot here, do we really need that much of warmth from liquor?
DOM which is the ultimate confinement liquor, haha, is hardly consumed. I don't like the sweetness. I could only finish half a bottle each time. With a few bottles as gifts each time, I had to think of ways to manage them later. I breastfeed, therefore I don't consume raw liquor. I use them cooked each time. And they taste absolutely sweet when the alchohol has evaporated. I know DOM is good for the post partum lady with all the herbs infused in it, but too bad, I'm no drinker.
I don't like rice wine Chicken, I don't know why, I just don't like it. Don't talk about red rice wine. Worse.
The only wine I could tolerate lots of it in the cooking is Korean ginger wine. So far, I don't feel weak now without DOM. Sigh, don't talk about 30 years down the road. No one knows. I'd rather take in saffron, thyme, angelica, cinnamon in its natural form than to derive them infused in DOM.


When this month has passed, I'll be back on my feet, and hell will begin. But I'll be glad that I rested well during the crucial times post delivery. I'm sure my wound has healed well and I'm well nourished to face the next few months. Getting sick is no small matter when you have a small infant, a toddler and a kid to take care of. That's the last thing I want. So, get on with confinement, but with some rationale. Don't be blind to follow whatever you're told. It's a good practice that shouldn't be put aside and be regarded as something of the past.

I won't be MIA for a month. Confinement postings coming up when I've delivered and am feeling much better.

See you in my next post with pictures of Mr. R.
 Haha, I like the way Elin calls him.


  1. Great post! I agreed with all the above, except for no. 9( I'm already out and about the second week!), and I have never practiced all those "old-fashioned" confinement either. It's ridiculous not to shower or wash your hair during the confinement period, especially if you live in a tropical country!

  2. You have a safe deivery. Best wishes to you !

  3. Thanks for sharing, I'm expecting my first baby this August and already booked my CL, at least i am aware of some dos and don'ts already :)

  4. Wish you a safe delivery.


  5. Have a safe delivery..can't wait to see Mr.R. but for me all new born baby look like the same,hehehe..

  6. Yep, I don't drink DOM too or wait one month to bath or wash hair and I went out too! Lots of tabboos but if don't make sense I don't follow! Have a safe delivery..looking forward to some photos:D

  7. Thanks for sharing. I've been following your blog and frequently try out your recipes. But just feel compelled to comment on this post because I so agree with your points. Have a safe delivery!

  8. My first time commenting after following your blog for a long time. I wish you and your baby the best of health =)

  9. Love this post! :)

    Have a safe delivery, take care and see you back soon with Mr. R...

  10. Have a safe delivery, and take good care of yourslef and baby...:) Best wishes from me and my family!

  11. I'm in total agreement with you!!! I washed my hair on the 4th day and at least twice a week after that! Are you going to extend your leave after delivering Mr R? The 3 yrs's gonna finish right?
    Wish you all the best on everything during the delivery, can't wait to see his pics...ah, and his name too. Haha... ;)

  12. I never went through any confinement when I had both my girls. I ate everything I wanted. I had my bath in the hospital. I broke all the conceivable confinement rules! :) I am a 'rebel'! LoL
    Wendy, have a safe delivery! Looking forward to seeing pics of your little darling!

  13. So many confinement taboos, during my 1st child, I pengsan leh....

  14. Angie,
    Point no9 is very much individual. My SIL also had some rain on her head when she took her baby out to the hospital at midnight when the baby had some probs,and that night she had headache too. I also didn't believe this at first, but when I encountered it myself twice, somehow, I'd rather becareful, especially when it's cold outside.

    Experimental Cook,

    It depends on both sides of your family. I followed some rules just to console my mom although she wasn't strict, she was worried. So, just to give her some peace of heart, sigh.. I just did what she said.


    Thankyou, haha. Some do look different, kekeke.

    Yawoh, I tell u hoh, my neighbour didn't bathe for 1 month. She told me she tried bathing, and she almost fainted in the bathroom.

    thankyou for the support, and haha, I think most modern women will think the same way as we do

    thankyou very much

    food dreams,
    thankyou and hope he's a handsome boy :)

    Thanks, and that marks the end of my KL trips. haha, dunno when can I see u again.

    Wah, ur MIL didn't nag at u meh? Yeah, definately extending.

    I bathed in the hospital too, and everyday, sometimes twice a day. I beh tahan la, here so hot dun bathe can die.

  15. Pete,
    U went thru confinement meh? Hahaha!
    But as the hubby u can stand up for ur wife ma (against the old folks), if she disagrees with all the rules.

  16. Jia You!!! Take care and have a safe deliver :)

  17. Take care and have a safe delivery.

  18. I hope the baby comes just as you like! many prayers for you & good luck.

  19. wan yee see you and baby R soon ya. Best wishes.
    Bite Mr. M kuat kuat if to painful...

  20. Hi Wendy, I've been glued to your blog the whole nite yesterday and slept way past my bedtime.. hahaha... Thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes-- there's a wealth of info here. Appreciate your generosity :) Also found interesting bits of yr personal life eg anecdotes of yr little girls (who are gorgeous) and yr life as a teacher in M'sia. Wanna wish u a very speedy and smooth delivery, and welcome to the world, little baby R! :)

  21. Hi, i've been following your blog and love your recipes.
    Reading about confinement made me nostalgic of my confinement days! You are so lucky not to gain unnecessary weight. With my 1st baby, I gained 16kg (him included)! My 2nd was 10kg and I hadn't lost the initial 10 I had left from the 1st baby. Sigh.
    Good luck with the delivery, or you should have your baby by now huh?

  22. A well written and logical posts. Can't wait to see mr r.

  23. Cuisine Paradise,


    I really hope that Mr R will start his contractions right away!! Haha

    Thankyou very much and I hope you'll be back for more.

    Mai Gek,
    haha, I wish I don't gain more than I lost after Is top breastfeeding. I always regain and get more after I wean my babies. I'm due to be induced tomorrow.

    Just my personal view on this issue. :)
    You'll see R soon.

  24. Hi wendy. Good luck to u for your delivery. I got cut open 5months ago to deliver my baby daughter and i hate my confinement too.. The worst thing is, hubby believes everything and asked me to adhere to all rules... Typical china man...


  25. hi there, i had a great laugh reading your blog on confinement. Totally agree with you. My gynae always give this advice on the day I go home with my baby - 'take your bath everyday & wash ur hair'.

    But i must say that DOM has really given my health a boost after child birth & i can withstand cold winters (i live in a orang putih country).

    Wishing u a safe delivery,

  26. Have a safe and easy delivery Wendy. Hope to see Mr R soon :)

  27. Have a safe delivery Wendy. I can't imagine not washing your hair for a month ha ha.. but now they do have dry shampoo where you just dust it on your hair and comb it out. It works very well actually. Hope you can get it there.

  28. I love this write up!! And I think I totally agree with the points that you have raised!

  29. all the best to you and your new born baby!

  30. Hi Wendy,
    First of all I am following your blog daily, then you stopped awhile due to your shifting home. This is a great blog, do continue to excite us with your good story telling,cooks and nice pics. BTW, I do remember you in Jodeli, is it you?

    Have a safe delivery.


  31. Have a safe delivery..i washed my hair after a week during my to stand leh..and i went for a breastfeeding class without wearing any jacket..i felt shivering after back to the ward.

  32. Hi, wish you have a smooth delivery! :)
    take care & rest well


  33. of all those, i only felt getting chilly easily esp when wind blow in from my windows ;p the others all very karut oredi. even the Taiwanese also not strict with their confinement. anyway wish you a safe delivery ;-)

  34. ooo by now the baby might have arrived? hope you are doing well!!

  35. Hehe...Can't wait to see Mr. R.
    Welcome to the world!

  36. Wendy, baby has arrived? ;-))
    I wish you all the best!

  37. Awesome post Wendy! I must say I absolutely agreed with you on those beliefs on confinement.Btw, congrats to you :)

  38. D day tomorrow! I hope by the time you read this, you've popped naturally.

    My confinement belief is like yours. I won't say those are myths but in olden days when there are no water heater and people bathe using well water, I do believe there is some truth in not bathing during confinement. But in modern days now, everything is so different.

    I washed my hair in the hospital when the nurse gives green light to get off the bed. Feels so yucky without washing my hair. On normal days I wash at least twice daily :p. I know it's no good but it's just a habit.

    I never had any alcohol during confinement, don't like the taste of it. And in my 3rd confinement I don't have a CL so I ordered confinement tingkat. I don't remember any alcohol in the menu list.

  39. Happy Confinement Day! Have a good rest this whole month.U can try to steam the Dom with chicken drumstick. It's taste quite good when serve with the chicken meat.


  40. Excellent write up!! Ya, things are different during the olden times and they are not applicable in today's life anymore.

    However, when it comes to eating and not going out, that is something I believe one have to observe. From my experience, I know fruits is no good during confinement. I curi curi ate an orange and next thing I know, I had very bad tummy ache and had the runs. It was so bad.. and with the stitches and all, it was horrible.

    As for vegetables, well, fibre can be obtained from other source. The chinese eat a lot of mushrooms and black fungus. I didnt eat any vege until I was in my last week of confinement and didnt suffer any constipation. During my last week, my grandma was more relax.. she gave me kailan, sweet pea, choy sum to eat.

    And yes, the thing about going out is that no matter what we think, our climate is humid and hot. Such weather makes one very prone to catching a chill especially if there is a sudden gush of wind. Now, when you are weak from giving birth, falling sick isnt exactly a good thing. So, why take the risk? What if it is true and you fall sick and had to suffer?? Why want to suffer?? "Not going out is not going to kill you.. it is only for 30 days. If that also you cannot make the commitment to do, what else can you do? The road ahead as a mother is hard and tough and if this you also cannot sacrifice and do, you will fail as a mother" Those were the exact words from my grandma.

    I was a very weak and sick person before I had my child. I was always having all sorts of pains and aches.. gastric, migraine, here pain, there pain for no reason. So, when I had my child, my grandma told me that if I want to be healthy and get rid of all my aches and pain, I gotta take care and listen during the confinement. I did just that. She told me to keep away from all the cabbage family vegetables for 100 days, I did. Dont walk up and down the stairs, I did.. Drink this, eat that, I did. And I can tell you, for the last 16 years, I hardly had all those pains and problems. The best thing is, my energy level improved tremendously.

    Till today, I can still work till wee hours and catch a few hours sleep before catching a flight to some place for meeting and rushing all over the place without feeling too tired. I am in my mid 40s now but nobody can guess it. I lead a full life.. work, business, kids, house, housework, husband, no maids. The best compliment I ever received is when my daughter of 15 years went up the stage to accept her awards for being top in class and form for the year, I told the person next to me that she is my daughter, the person was shocked! Hahaha.. her exact word, "you are too young to have a child.. you look too young anyway".

    So, I am a firm believer of practising confinement in the correct way. Oh yes, my grandma allowed me to shower and wash my hair. shower everyday in the afternoon and wipe myself, wash leg and clean myself in the evening for hygiene purposes. Wash hair alternate days. And I noticed that she will always have a bowl of warm hot ginger drink ready for me when I step out of the shower room.. I suppose that helps.

  41. Hi Wendy. Is Mr R arrived already by now? Hope you have a restful confinement. All your points above sound familiar & been practiced a lot by many. Traditional Malays have very strict confinement rules too but I had mine moderately. I had my bath daily and can wash my hair anytime I wanted, my mum said is ok... lucky me..! I went out a lot during confinement and had no problem....

  42. Cindi,
    I'm not sure if I'm the one u saw in Jodeli, but I wasn't active there, with only a few postings.

  43. Wendy,
    I am not too sure whether KC or Jodeli as your pics were beautifully taken as I had seen in one of the forums. Anyway, now I am your fan and comes in daily to see your postings.

    How's baby Di-di now? Got a new name already?


  44. cindi,
    Oh.. now I'm scratching my head. I've never joined KC, but I knew they posted one of my earlier posts 2-3 years back. My Steamed cheese cake. But during Jodeli's time, I think I only posted one cookie pic, that's all. And that pic wasn't anywhere near nice, LOL.
    Anyway, thanks for reading my blog and it's nice getting to know you.


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