No scientific basis to support confinement taboos

support confinement taboos

Woman must spend between 30 and 45 days known as confinement period right after giving birth to nurture their health. Basically, mothers are required to adhere strictly some of the traditional postpartum practices in order to regain pre-pregnancy state and improve their health as soon as possible. However, practices and restrictions for confinement period varies according to your own culture and roots.

But bear in mind, these are only tips to guide you throughout the confinement period. Therefore, there is no scientific explanation to support the basis of the practices. One may notice that Caucasians do not have this so-called confinement period. Unlike most of Asian cultures, Caucasians usually wander out of the house right after giving birth as they strongly believed it is important to exercise regularly to help heal the wound effectively.

Some said confinement period is crucial as your body works like sponge to absorb everything good and bad. Therefore, it is a priority to follow dietary recommendations based on your own culture and roots. Failed to follow the traditional practices and dietary recommendations, mothers may suffer later in life including headaches and joint pain.

How many of us realized that the actual medical term for confinement is puerperium? Confinement period is crucial for to improve health and helps the uterus to shrink to its normal size. While mothers need to observe their lifestyle and daily diet, they must never forget to breastfeed the baby.

Because mother’s milk is rich in vitamins and nutrient to help facilitate infant’s growth and development. But remember, to produce quality milk, mothers must observe their diet and consume nutritious foods in order to have more energy to produce good milk.

Nutritionist once said that confinement is not just about eating healthily but also to breastfeed infant because if you fail to do so, the extra energy (which is originally meant for breastfeeds) cause you to gain weight excessively.

Scientific support

In Chinese culture, women are not supposed to bathe or wash their hair during confinement period. Unlike Chinese culture, Malays are allowed to bathe using herbs. But to date, there is no scientific basis to support the practices. Therefore, some modern mums just rule out such restrictions.

Asian moms tend to compare such practice with the West. Women who just gave birth in West continue with their lifestyle including bathing without adding herbs to the water. So where is the rationale for such practice?

In addition to that, Westerners eat ‘cooling’ foods such as melon, egglant and jackfruit during confinement period. Medical experts pointed out that Asian culture that prohibits mother to eat vegetables and fruits to avoid ‘wind’ from entering the body is illogical. This is because fruits and vegetables are rich source of nutrients and vitamins.

Chinese encouraged mothers to increase the intake of ginger, dates and vinegar to regulate blood circulation, improve health and warm the body. Nutritionist agreed that there is no harm to consume such ingredients but one should remember not to overeat these foods.

One should practice traditional restrictions with moderation. In the past, there were cases of skin burns and inflammation of the uterus and tummy because Malay massage was done inappropriately. Based on the traditional massage, hot pack, stones or clothing with herbs are used on mother’s tummy. Hence, traditional massage should be practiced moderately as safety precaution.

Other than that, Chinese should also take note on rice wine consumption (mothers must drink rice wine during the first 20 days of confinement period to replace water). Even though other races do not have such practices, they limit the water consumption to avoid stomach bloating after giving birth. But medical expert refuted the practice saying lack of water in mother’s body may affect quality of milk. Besides that, it can also cause dehydration.

‘Dropping womb’

Back in the olden days, (Malay culture) women are advised not to squat down as they believed the uterus may ‘drop’ if they do so. Medical experts have clarified that it is largely due to hormonal changes that causes such misunderstanding among the women.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes in your body cause formation of blood clots particularly in leg veins. When the clots disperse and enter your lungs, heart or brain, it will result in instantaneous death. Older generations believed that if a woman is back on her feet right after giving birth, then the uterus will fall off. Therefore, it is highly recommended that one should have enough rest before exercising or getting involved in heavy activities.

Medical experts once again refuted the statement stating that ‘dropping womb’ is due to difficult delivery or prolonged labour. To avoid such accident, women must consult their doctors if they suspect something is amiss.

In conclusion, women must weigh advantages and rationale for each confinement practices without following it blindly. Although your culture suggests particular eating recommendations to improve your health, those are only guidelines for your reference.


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