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Postpartum or confinement period is a special phase for mothers and their child to bond relationship. Of course, this period is extremely important for mothers who just gave birth to regain pre-pregnancy state and pamper themselves for better health. Confinement period varies among different beliefs.
But nevertheless, the practices and restrictions imposed are meant to improve mothers’ health. Conducted correctly, mothers can regain their body figure in no time while maintaining good health. For Vietnamese women, generally the postpartum period lasts for about 100 days. Mothers must follow the traditional practices that covers hygiene, diet and healing activities.
Mothers under postpartum period are not allowed to bathe and shampoo their hair for approximately 30 days while sex is prohibited between 2 and 6 months. For bath and shampoo abstinence practices, women are advised to roll or braid their hair since they gave birth to ensure that the hair is kept neat and tidy. It is also meant to prevent mothers from combing the hair as the older generation said those who managed to avoid combing the hair can escape from headache in the future.
And similar to other beliefs, mothers are not allowed to bathe to prevent wind from entering their bodies. Say for example if they bath or shampoo right after they give birth, wind will enter their bodies through open pores and it may lead to headache and weak body later in the future.
Meanwhile, another area that requires careful observation is intake of food. In their culture, mothers must increase the intake of ‘hot’ and ‘warm’ food to balance the cold effect in the body. Hence, mothers are prohibited from eating ‘cold’ food. Mothers are encouraged to increase ‘warm’ food intake to regain the lost energy and improve blood circulation.
Here are some reminders for mothers on what you should and shouldn’t eat. You are advised to prepare dishes such as pig’s trotter bone porridge to increase milk production, boiled raungot water to help cleanse blood in your body after giving birth, sticky rice cooked with turmeric to effectively heal the wounds and lean pork or boiled egg.
On the other hand, mothers are advised to avoid food such as fatty and spicy food as it may affect your milk production, cold fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, watermelon, lemon, grape and pomelo as it is believed that these foods caused urine ailment later in life, as well as fish, crab and other seafood as it may cause diarrhea and skin allergies.
Among some of the beverages to be included in your daily diet are traditional medicine, herbal tea and controlled amount of water. Traditional tea helps to increase your milk production and regulates blood circulation, herbal tea brings more fresh milk while water is meant to prevent urine ailment later in life. For working modern mums, do not drink tea, coffee or wine as it may influence quality of your milk.
Food cooked for mothers under confinement period contains zero oil and fat. This is because vegetables are boiled and simmered to thicken the soup instead of adding fat. One may question the controlled amount of water for postpartum mothers. This is largely due to Vietnamese cultural beliefs that water limitations can help tighten your intestines and in return prevent urine ailment later in life.
According to their cultural beliefs, lochia (refers to dirty blood after delivery) is a bad sign. To eliminate the dirty blood from mothers’ bodies, one must eat raungot soup to increase the flow of smelly blood discharge. There are other restrictions that mothers must follow while discharging the smelly and dirty blood – mothers are not allowed to visit others’ as it may bring bad luck to them. In addition to that, they have to wash their clothes separately from other members in the family. Finally, when they visit market to purchase items or products, they are prohibited from bargaining for the best deal.
Among other practices and beliefs in Vietnamese culture while mothers are under confinement period include adding cotton pad into ears, hiding a knife under the pillow, not to comb your hair or run around the house fixing nails. Some are seen as taboo in other cultures.
Another matter to be treated seriously is sex abstinence. Mothers are often advised not to resume early sex to allow their bodies to heal effectively. But modern mums have long since forgotten the practice and resumed sexual intercourse early.
Vietnamese women tend to avoid physical activities or exercises such as doing household chores and running around during postpartum period. They need to rest from time to time during confinement period to allow their bodies to fully recover and to prevent internal organs from collapsing.