Childbirth does a number on your body, and adequate rest and nourishment is essential to ensure that your body is restored back to its original condition, hence eastern cultures usually recommend a period of confinement for the new mother to bounce back after delivery.
Senior physician Zhong Xi Ming of Eu Yan Sang Premier TCM Centre @ Paragon points out ten things that new mothers should be aware of while they are having their confinement.
1. Avoid cold and spicy food
According to TCM, a mother’s constitution is in a state of blood stasis and is Qi deficient. Eating cold and spicy food will aggravate the mother’s condition and could lead to the development of other health problems.
2.Don’t be too anxious to lose weight immediately
Losing weight shouldn’t be the most pressing concern for a new mother. Instead, she should consume nutritious food and herbs that will nourish the body’s Qi and blood. This is beneficial for the mother’s general health and also aids in the lactation process. Starting a weight loss programme too early could also be harmful to health.
3. Diet matters
A proper diet is key to postpartum recovery. During the first two days after childbirth, meals should comprise easily digestible food, and the herbal soups and food that is taken in the first two weeks from delivery should aim to remove excess fluid and lochia. This is as TCM believes in ‘removing stale blood to stimulate the generation of “new blood’. Subsequently, the new mother’s diet should comprise of more nutritious food and herbal medication that nourish the blood and Qi in the body.
4. Avoid windy places and getting cold
After the delivery of a child, the mother’s constitution is weakened as a substantial volume of blood is lost. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is the time when the mother is susceptible to pathogenic factors and is especially vulnerable to catching colds. If the mother doesn’t take care, she may develop rheumatism later in life.
The mother’s resting environment should be kept cool and well ventilated at 26 to 28 degrees Celsius. The fan and air conditioning should not be blowing cold air directly at the mother.
5. Keep dry always
A mother’s clothes should always be kept dry, and they should be changed whenever the mother perspires to prevent her from catching a cold. During the post-natal confinement period, the mother’s clothes should be kept dry. Frequent change of clothes is essential when there is perspiration. This is to prevent the mother from catching a cold.
6. Protect your eyes
Don’t spend too much time watching television or crying during the confinement period. This is as TCM believes that watching television and crying excessively will further exacerbate the loss of blood and body essence, and damage the vision.
7. Control your sodium intake
This is especially so for mothers who have a medical history of high blood pressure, kidney disease or gestational hypertension.
8. Abstain from sexual intercourse (for now)
The first eight weeks after childbirth is the more crucial period for postnatal mothers to nurse their bodies back to health, thus sexual intercourse should be avoided. The minimum period of abstinence is three weeks as this is the time taken for the lochia to be fully cleared from the uterus.
9. Up your calcium intake
It is very common for mothers to experience backaches and joint pains after birth due to hormonal changes. To prevent this, do moderate exercise and ensure sufficient calcium intake.
10. Get adequate rest
Rest is essential for postpartum mothers to recover fully from childbirth, and they should be resting for at least one to two hours more than they used to every day before they gave birth. New mothers should also avoid over exerting themselves.
Zhong Xi Ming is a senior physician at Eu Yan Sang Premier TCM Centre @ Paragon. She received her Graduate Certificate in TCM from Hubei University of Chinese Medicine Faculty of Medicine in 1984. Eu Yan Sang combines the best of east-west healthcare practices with the 33 TCM clinics and 2 integrative medical centres in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Malaysia.