This is my very own little space in cyberspace. The space where I vent, the space where I rant and the space where I rave.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Confined To The Confines of Confinement

            For many Asian societies, confinement is the period that ranges from 30 to 40 days postpartum in which the new mother rests and recovers from the rigours of labour and delivery.  I think this whole concept of confinement is a great one.  It gives the new mother much needed rest and sleep, two of the most important ingredients for a speedy recovery.     To optimise recovery, the mother is also expected to observe certain practices.  
            For the Chinese community in Malaysia, the main principle of post natal care is to avoid getting “the chill” or “the wind”.  Getting the chill or the wind is supposed to be the absolute worst thing that can happen to a woman who’ve just had a baby.  This can result in the woman suffering from various ailments in her old age which includes rheumatism, gassiness (apparently so!), and an assortment of aches and pains which can make your life in short, a bitch.
            The practices that the mother has to observe run the gamut from the sensible to the practical to doubtful and well… plain ridiculous. Case in point, restrictions on bathing or washing your hair for the duration of the confinement.  I mean, what the heck???  How is not cleaning yourself suppose to aid your recovery?  I just don’t get it.  If anyone out there gets it, please help me in getting it.
 I think it’s not only ridiculous, it’s also bad hygiene practice.  There you are, hugging and cuddling and breastfeeding your newborn with his/her immature and underdeveloped immune system and you sweaty and sticky and greasy-haired.  Hmmm… something not quite right there…no?  I have no idea where these practices originate from, but if I have to hazard a guess, I’d say they have their roots in ancient China.  Now, far be it from me to diss the wisdom and medical knowledge born from 2000 years of civilization.  I guess in ancient China where the water probably came from polluted sources and the temperature can fall to subzero and where people really did suffer and die from pneumonia and bronchitis and whatnot, the restrictions made perfect sense.  But in modern, tropical, SWELTERING Malaysia?  I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced.  I need my twice a day shower just to feel human. 
Admittedly, other than this restriction, I have no problem at all with being “confined”.  Some people bitch about being stuck in the house and not being able to go anywhere except the hospital.  Not me, I have no problem staying at home.  It does get boring at times, but I don’t want to be traipsing anywhere with a poopy newborn and a sore stitched-up perineum anyway.  I’d rather be sitting at home with my feet up and doing my Kegels, thank you very much.
As for the restrictions on food, some really does make sense.  Some of the “forbidden” food can do funny stuff to the baby’s fragile digestive system and give them extra gas or discomfort.  The result?  A fussy, weepy baby who’ll wake up at night and make you weepy too.  No fun!  Sure, I dream about eating all sorts of things, but hey, it’s just 40 days, not 40 years.  Besides, I like some of the confinement food.
Also make sense are the restrictions on limiting walking and stair climbing, not lifting/carrying anything heavier than your newborn, and oh I absolutely love the urut and the tungku (hot stone) sessions.  What’s not to love having someone knead those sore tired muscles? 
            All in all, it’s not such a bad thing to be confined after all.

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