People have been asking me what I've been doing with my spare time whilst waiting for D-Day. Truth is, I've been reading a lot. I feel like I'm cramming for an exam! Although I must say that I am taking the information in more seriously than remembering stuff for my sociology exam.
As expected, I've read quite a bit on labour and watched youtube videos too - not on women giving birth but positions to relief pain and for giving birth. Quite insightful. I've also watched some videos on caring for your newborn after birth - bathing, changing nappies, sleep, etc. Pretty normal things a mum-to-be would do.
Anyway, I spoke to my Malaysian neighbour over the weekend and she started telling me about confinement. She's not the first one to remind me about confinement or ask me about it but she's definitely the first one to tell me her experience of having confinement with her first child and not doing it 'properly' after her second child. She said she took things too lightly with the second one and she's now got all these female physiological problems which she attributes to not following confinement practices.
I've never really 'bought into' the whole confinement practice but I listened to her with an open mind. She mentioned a particular doctor in Malaysia who is an expert in confinement practices. I decided to look her up. Her website has some tips on what to do before birth and after birth. I think if she found out what I have been doing, I would get a slap on my wrist! Apparently I'm not suppose to be taking cold drinks and I'm suppose to drink a special red dates drink every day for one month before the bub is born. This helps reduce the wind in your body and gives your baby a beautiful complexion. Ok so I suppose it's no harm following the recipes but I'm not too sure about some of the other practices like not washing your hair and having a confinement nanny feed your baby at night so the new mum can get some rest. Also, a lot of the recipes have wine but if you are breastfeeding your baby, alcohol can actually pass through to your baby. So the person cooking your meals has to know this and take the necessary precautions.
Comparing traditional Chinese with Western postnatal practices, it seems that Chinese practices focus much more on the mother's body/health where else Western practices focuses on the newborn baby with an emphasis on bonding. If you hire a confinement lady or go to a confinement center (which is now quite popular in Malaysia), the baby sleeps in a separate nursery with all the other babies and is bottle fed by a confinement lady/nanny. I find this rather bizarre...
Nevertheless, I'm glad to hear of friends and family who have hired a confinement lady and have insisted that they breastfeed and sleep with the baby through the night. Even though it is exhausting, these are critical moments for mum and bub to bond. Kudos to them.
I've met some people who absolutely swear by these confinement methods and they give you funny looks when you go..uhm..yeah, I'm not too sure about it. I suppose as with most information that come our way, we need to be wise and pick the sound ones. This way, you will have the best of both worlds for both mum and bub :)
If you are interested, here are some informative websites on postnatal care:
Peiling confinement center
Chinese confinement diet
BabyCenter's - You after birth
Australian Breastfeeding Association