Coping after childbirth can be exhausting for a new mum. This is why new mums are expected to rest for a month or so, and just allow their bodies to recuperate. In Chinese tradition, this period of rest is known as the Confinement Period. During the confinement period, the mum is expected to eat special confinement meals and herbs to replenish the nutrients lost during childbirth, as well as to improve breastmilk production and help with healthy blood circulation. Resting and eating healthy while adjusting to motherhood may seem impossible, but with the right preparation, you can definitely achieve a smooth confinement period. In our Complete Guide to Confinement Period in Singapore, we will share a few tips on how you can prepare well for your confinement period in Singapore.
Is confinement period really necessary?
Confinement period is essentially a new mum’s period of rest after experiencing the pains of childbirth. So yes, confinement period is necessary to ensure that your body will recover properly after giving birth. Confinement period is quite important in Singapore, especially for those who follow traditional Chinese practices. In addition to resting, it is also the perfect time to learn more about nursing and being a mother in general, of which a confinement nanny can help you.
How long is the confinement period?
In Chinese culture, confinement period lasts for a whole month or 30 days, but can be still up to 45 days for greater healing.
Where can I spend my confinement period in Singapore?
Before, confinement period was supposed to be just at home. Mums are strongly encouraged to just rest at home and not leave unless absolutely necessary. Nowadays, you can also spend your confinement period in a confinement centre, which would be best if you want a hassle-free option. This is especially great if you don’t have extra space at home (for a nanny), or if you just want to spend a few weeks away from home. Be prepared for the costs though, as getting quality care from confinement centres come with a price. The more economic (and popular) option is to still stay at home, and spend confinement with the assistance of family members or confinement nannies.
What can I do to prepare for my confinement period?
This has got to be the most important thing. When we had our first baby, my hubby and I failed to prepare in advance when it came to a confinement nanny. It seemed a bit costly too. But thankfully, our family and friends advised and encouraged us to get one and we managed to secure one before my EDD.
While some mums DIY their own confinement or have their parents help out, I must say that a confinement nanny is hands down one of the best investments. Taking care of a newborn is very challenging, especially if it is your first time. Not to mention that your body has still yet to recover from childbirth! It’s even more challenging if you plan to breastfeed, and handling all these together will seem like an uphill task.
Alternatively, consider getting a helper to help with the chores and cooking. Whether part-time or full-time, a helper would definitely make the load lighter at home. Do get in your helper prior to your EDD so you can spend time training her and see if she’ll be a good fit for your family. I was very lucky to have gotten both a nanny and a helper. It was the ultimate combination because I could just focus on breastfeeding and my recovery. The baby and household chores were taken care of.
While there are nightmare stories about nannies and helpers, I still do believe that the scary stories should not scare you away from trying to get help. Trust me when I say it may be more of a nightmare trying to juggle everything on your own. Do source for your helper either through an agency or referred contacts, to ensure that in the event the helper is not suitable, they can arrange for replacements.
To be honest, it did not occur to me that a postnatal massage could be such a lifesaver. Prenatal massages are relaxing, but postnatal massages are something else. As I remember saying to my husband after my first postnatal massage – this massage will help “brought me to life”. My body after giving birth was charged with adrenaline, which allowed me to last days with very little sleep, but my body took a beating from pushing a baby out of me, at the same time, coping with the lack of sleep.
With all these, if you can, you should definitely get a postnatal massage too! My husband arranged both my prenatal and postnatal sessions for me at PNSG. I must say that it’s every penny well spent! You can click here to join the chat for PNSG Group Buy.
Post-natal massage helped me with the following:
- Removed clogged ducts in my breasts
- Open up nipple ducts for milk flow (very important for breastfeeding)
- Helped with water retention
- Massaged my belly to “push” my uterus back to shape and also reduce my waistline
- Helped soothe my body aches (especially in my neck and upper back)
- Provided me with a window to relax and recharge
3. Take better care of yourself
It comes naturally to take care of ourselves when we are pregnant. The baby is inside of you and so you tend to eat and rest well. However, after giving birth, some of us neglect ourselves. This shouldn’t be the case as it is very important to take better care of yourself too during the post-natal period.
Drink lots of water, eat good nutrition, and get enough sleep – these are crucial to producing breastmilk. And of course, in improving your well-being.
Best foods to eat during your confinement period:
- Turmeric. This will greatly help your body fight infections and tackle indigestion issues.
- Fish soup boiled with papaya. This is probably one of the most popular dishes during confinement since it is said to be helpful in milk production.
- Pork liver. This is highly rich in iron, which is what you need to replenish blood loss after childbirth. Chicken and fish are also great sources of iron.
- Green vegetables. Rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and fibre – you can never go wrong with greens!
- Nuts. They are high in vitamin B12, omega 3 acids and fibre, helping mums to boost lactation and hormones for milk production.
Foods to avoid during your confinement period:
- Raw and ‘cooling’ foods. Avoid these for now since they may upset your stomach and spleen and prevent the discharge of toxic fluids from your body. Some examples include watermelon, radish, Chinese cabbage, and tangerine.
- Caffeinated beverages. Hydration is important, so please focus on water and herbal teas first. Red dates tea, for instance, is really helpful for milk production.
- Dairy. Milk and cheese may also upset your stomach.
- Spicy and oily foods. Skip your fast food faves for a while since they can cause constipation, abdominal pain and bloating. They may also affect the quality and quantity of your breast milk.
If you do not have a confinement nanny cooking for you, or if you want your nanny to focus more on taking care of the baby, you can always order confinement food for a fuss-free option. I got my confinement food from Thomson Medical. Aside from a filling main dish, you will also get herbal teas and soups to complete your confinement meal. You can also check out Tian Wei Signature Group Buy here.
Herbal care and prenatal vitamins
Herbal care is very important for your recovery and your nanny will likely give you a list of ingredients that you can buy from ZTP, Hockhua, Eu Yan Sang. If you want something more fuss-free, Thomson Medical has a comprehensive confinement herbal care package – I tried this and it was great because it was easy to follow. Make sure to also continue taking your prenatal supplements.
Another must-do during your confinement period is to try to get more bed rest. After all, confinement period is all about your recovery. As you rest, do not attend to chores, do not bend down or squat too much, avoid workouts and sex (for this, you must get the green light from your gynae first). “Sleep whenever the baby sleeps” is the classic instruction and I do agree that’s important.
4. Have some key contacts on standby
Another important thing is to, get the number of a lactation consultant or a breast masseuse on standby. Ask fellow mums for their recommendations – breastfeeding is challenging and you may run into some issues so make sure that you have people to go to should the need arises.
One time, I was desperate for help in the middle of the night once due to potential engorgement from not being able to pump out my milk, and mums referred Mdm Iza to me and she was a lifesaver. You may reach her at +65 9091 8274 in case you want to engage with her as well. I also had a lactation consultant from Thomson Medical aid me during my hospital stay and provide me tips after.
5. Get support from fellow mums
he learning curve of being a new mom is challenging, but the upside is, speaking from my personal experience – it does get better. You just got to hang in there! Having mummy or dad support groups is very important, whether it is for seeking help and advice when you need, or just sharing your experience if you are having a good or bad day.
We have an SG Mums support group on Telegram, and one for SG Dads too. Please do join and be part of our community! They are ideal if you are looking for some quick tips or just want to talk to fellow mums in general. The group is very active so you’ll have someone answer you quickly.
Additional Tips for Confinement Period in Singapore
Warm herbal baths do wonders
During confinement, contact with water is said to cause “wind” to enter the body and eventually cause headaches and rheumatism later on. Despite this traditional belief, you’d still need to take showers to help you feel clean and hygienic. After all, not showering or bathing is basically an invitation to let bacteria inside your body, which is definitely a no-no since you’d be in such close contact with a fragile newborn. So, one way to prevent wind from entering your body while also being hygienic is to just take warm baths or showers. Not only is a warm bath more relaxing, it could also help you with blood circulation along with many other health benefits.
For mums in confinement, it’s even better if you get warm herbal baths. Traditional Chinese herbs will help your body to recover faster from the pains of childbirth. At the same time, helps a lot in expelling “wind” from your body. You can consult with a TCM practitioner if you want to know more about these Chinese herbs or simply purchase a confinement herbal package for hassle-free baths. You don’t even need to be familiar with every single Chinese herb as these herbal packages are already pre-packed. Herbal packages are also best if you want to drink some tea.
Get your doctor’s advice at all times
You may take antibiotics or any type of medication and supplements in your confinement period, but ONLY if your doctor says so. Always, always get a go signal from your gynae to avoid any postpartum complications. This also applies when it comes to your diet, exercise, etc.
Get all the confinement essentials
Having all the confinement essentials will help you a lot during your confinement period. Aside from the confinement food and herbs, my confinement period essentials are nursing pads, nursing bras, nursing clothes, and basically anything that helped me be more comfortable while breastfeeding and while in confinement. Do check out our guide on breastfeeding essentials as well because you’ll likely need these items too!
Treat yourself afterwards
This is just as important as the others, especially if you went traditional during your confinement period. Of course, after all the traditional Chinese confinement meals you had, you’ll probably miss the taste of more flavourful dishes from other parts of the world. So once your 30 day-confinement is over, don’t be afraid to indulge in Western food or go back to drinking coffee and alcohol (but of course don’t do this if you are breastfeeding). Go out with your friends and family too! Better yet, hold a Baby Full Month Celebration and invite all your loved ones. It’s time that they meet your new bundle of joy!
We hope that our guide on Confinement Period in Singapore will help you out in your exciting journey as a new mum. If you found this confinement guide useful, please share it with your friends and family!
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