If there is one phenomenon that brings together every culture and tradition, it is the phenomenon of birth. Pregnancy is something that is looked upon as a miracle, a joy of life. It gives you the feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself. In different cultures, there are different ways society deals with pregnancy and then post-pregnancy. With different cultures comes different rituals, aimed to keep the new mother and the baby safe from the harms of the world.
In this article, the focus of the conversation is going to be what happens after delivery. From letting, you know what confinement after pregnancy is to the myths and the folklore that surround the implementation of this practice. We will dissect what is fact and what is a myth purely on the basis of logic and understanding.
What Is Post Pregnancy Confinement?
Post Pregnancy Confinement is a term that is given to the post-birth or postpartum recovery time of the new mother. This is largely an Asian practice meaning countries that come under Asia mostly follow this practice where the new mother has to adhere to the do’s and don’ts of what they can and cannot do. This is mostly a time given to the mothers to rest and heal from the trauma of childbirth and not participate in any strenuous exercise that may cause the healing to get disturbed.
The confinement time is a time to relax and recuperate. Ranging from 33 to 45 days, the new mother is often assisted by a midwife or a helping lady, someone who will help her get through those days with ease. The new mother is not allowed to do any hard work thus the rest of the family members pick up the slack and work so that the mother can get acquainted with her baby and create a bond.
All in all, this is a beautiful time of self-reflection and healing for the mother to get back her strength and make sure that she is fully healed and healthy to then proceed to take care of the entire household.
Where is Confinement Practiced?
This is usually an Asian practice, practiced amongst countries like China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and in some parts of Latin America. These are traditions that have been carrying on for centuries by the grandmothers and the elders of most cultures.
It is looked upon as a way to give gratitude to the one giving birth because it is not an easy pain to go through. Thus, in order to provide relief, this practice was adopted as a way to provide safety, comfort and relaxation to the already exhausted new mother. Most grandmothers and elders, in that time, help the mother in different ways, from imparting knowledge to helping the mother understand her role now.
What Are Some Myths and Facts About Confinement?
Now, this is the part of the article that matters the most. This is the culmination of all research done on postpartum confinement on mothers. The fact is that most cultures have strict instructions on what a mother needs to do or must abide by once she enters the confinement. What this article is about are the myths that surround confinement. From what to eat to when to take a bath or a shower, there are many things that may make you do a double-take. This is why this article will provide you with the myth and then proceed to let you know about the fact that it derives from.
Here are some major myths that we will debunk for you.
1. Do Not Take a Shower
This is one of the most common practice of confinement that women have to go through. In this myth, it is claimed that the mother should not take a shower or have a bath or even wash her hair. This is purely because the myth is that you are vulnerable and susceptible to external factors that may cause infections and diseases. Due to this they try and avoid washing or getting clean to wait until the mother is healthy enough.
Fact: This is mostly in effect in countries such as China, India, Pakistan and Malaysia. These countries are high in humidity and thus women who give birth there, it is better for them to clean themselves as fast as they can because humidity and unclean body can be a disaster waiting to happen. All kinds of infections and disease can occur. Thus, there is no scientific explanation for this myth and it is encouraged for women to clean themselves and take a bath with clean or boiled water after birth.
2. Don’t Drink Water
Now, this is a myth that states that you can’t drink plain water because it will increase preservation of water in your body thus bringing your body temperature down and making you susceptible to diseases. It is also believed that if you do drink plain water then there is a chance of “wind” entering your body.
Fact: This is a proven wrong myth since water intake in any situation is a good positive outlook on one’s health and fitness. When a woman is giving birth, the body retains a lot of liquids and water and once the birth is done, the body and the liver make sure to expel a lot of that liquid to clean the body out. Thus, it is necessary for women to drink up and be hydrated once they have given birth. If the woman is breastfeeding her baby then, especially in that case, she needs to be hydrated. For her to stay hydrated she needs to have almost 1 glass of water while breastfeeding so around 8 glasses in a day. Water is essential. However, it is suggested to drink clean and boiled water or red-date water in most chinese traditions.
3. Drink Alcohol
The myth is that if you drink alcohol, or have food that has alcohol in it, this will help increase your blood circulation and keep you warm inside. The belief is that in order to help the body keep up the temperature that it lost during birth, it needs instant cure so that the body stays warm and if the body stays warm it will stay healthy.
Fact: The fact is that this myth is not accurate at all. A mother can’t have a plain glass of water but can drink alcohol? That is not factually correct. Though alcohol does keep your body warm and keeps your blood circulation goingin the case of a mother who just gave birth, this is not the way to go about. Especially a mother who is breastfeeding her baby. It is best not to mix alcohol in the milk for a new-born. Alcohol can impair the growth and development of a newborn. So please do avid this myth altogether.
4. Don’t Use Air Conditioner and Wear Warm Clothes
This myth derives from the same mindset of not letting the new mother drink plain water or shower after birth. The fear is that if the mother mind ends up getting “Wind” inside her and infecting her if she decides to not wear warm clothing. That is why new mothers, especially in Asian countries, are covered with warm blankets oat pieces of cloth, even in the summer when the heat is unbearable. This plus refusing to put on air-conditioning is to make sure that the mother stays protected and safe.
Fact: The main point of concern here should be what the mother wants. It is necessary to do things in mediation. Don’t overheat the mother and do not over cool the mother. If the climate outside is hot and humid, then putting a mother is warm clothes may instigate heat rash or burn. That is why make sure that the mother is wearing loose, comfortable clothing that keeps her cool and safe.
5. Don’t Leave the House
Now, this is a myth that is very common in south Asian countries, where the mother is told not to go out in the first 30 to 45 days. The reason for that is that the mother’s immune system is weak and vulnerable, and especially if you live in a polluted city then there is a higher chance of the mother contracting the virus orbacterial infection.
Fact: The truth in this situation is simple. There is no scientific proof that not going outside will prevent the mothers already weak immune system from getting or catching a disease. A new mother could catch it from anywhere if anyone comes to meet her or the baby and many other instances.
6. Only Eat Meat and Herbs
The myth states that the only things a new mother should eat are liver, meat and herbs. The reason for that is that meat, liver and herbs are an excellent source of protein and iron which the mother currently lacks after giving birth. The belief is also that afterbirth, the mother’s body temperature decreases and goes trough a cooling period. That is why eating meat and herbs will help keep the body heat up and protect the mother.
Fact: What is necessary for the mother to have, is nutritional intake. Let that be in any form of vegetable, meat or broth. Anything that helps keep the sustenance up. The body needs protein and iron, but it also needs vitamins and fibre which can only be found in the body after a balanced diet.
7. Don’t Walk Around
The belief is that a woman, right after giving birth or in confinement, should not be walking or moving around. The belief is that the mother is weak and vulnerable and has a high chance of falling and hurting herself. If she is holding the baby and walking around, then it is considered when more pressing that the mother doesn’t walk.
Fact: The truth is, scientifically, the only mothers who should be on bed rest are those who have a C-section. This is only due to the fact that they had anoperation, and they need to give some time to their wound to heal. For mothers who had a natural birth, it is recommended that they move around so that there is no risk of blood clots. The more they move around the less the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
8. Don’t Read or Cry
It is believed that during birth the liver is weakened, which subsequently affects the eyes because they are connected. And if you read something or put pressure on your eyes, you can go blind or it can affect the eyesight.
Fact: There is no scientific explanation for this myth and this has been debunked. What is true, though, is that during childbirth, there is a huge loss of blood which consequently can affect the eyesight and weaken it. What happens is that the liver, which is connected to the blood being pumped all over the body, has to be given liver-protecting foods so that does not happen. This can help maintain steady blood flow and thus, not affect the eyes.
The above-mentioned myths are just a small amount, from the many that are believed worldwide, especially in Asia. What is necessary is to know and understand that though these myths may have started with some truth to them, they have now become a whole new version which does not help the new mother at all. Instead, it may just hurt her. That is why it is necessary to do your research and follow the ideas that you can relate to and ideas that have proof of logic. Pregnancy may be a miracle, but the birth and the post-birth time is the most crucial time for the women. It is best to take care of the mother first and make sure she is comfortable and relaxed.
Hopefully, this article will have helped you differentiate truth from fiction. Pregnancy is already a topic about which there are many false statements and myths circulated around. The best thing to do is to go to the doctors to get scientific information and do what feels comfortable to the mother. Stay safe and keep the mother-baby duo safe too.