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Is Confinement Care Outdated?

Wong Shu Lee  


  July 06, 2021

As Malaysians, especially for ladies, I guess most of us are not unfamiliar with “confinement month” or “berpantang”. Postpartum care is widely practiced by mothers in Malaysia regardless of race and religion. Confinement rules may vary across different cultures, but most of them feature an extended period of rest for mothers postpartum lasting anywhere from 26 to 45 days, in which mothers and their babies are confined to their homes. 


In Asian cultures, many of us believe that after a woman gives birth to a baby, there is an empty space in her body where the baby once was. Her body is open, her ligaments loose, and it’s believed that if "yin" or wind/cold comes into this open space, it will cause future ailments and prevent the body from properly recovering. 


Thus, the practice of confinement emphasizes staying warm by remaining indoors and abstaining from cold foods/drinks, from touching cold objects, and some even disallowed from washing hair. 


Confinement rules are being discussed and debated constantly because some of those rules may seem outdated and are without a scientific basis. 


So, is confinement care outdated? 


It is known that many mothers may have postpartum depression if they’re not being taking care of after having babies. Besides, mothers may suffer from health issues like pelvic floor dysfunction if not being care properly. 


Hence, though some confinement practices are questionable, it is safe to say that mothers should at least take enough rest and keep a healthy diet during postpartum. 


After all, it is advisable for women to stay at home during postnatal period because both mommy and baby are more susceptible to infections during this time because of weaker immunities. Especially during the pandemic, it is really not advisable for postnatal mothers to go for outdoor activities. However, they are encouraged to do mild exercises such and yoga and stretching at home. 


Besides, according to gynaecologies, carrying heavy items can put postpartum mothers at risk of a prolapsed womb. Thus, it is best to leave the chores to the other family members or confinement helper and use that time to heal any tears and rest well after giving birth.


In terms of food, there is actually no scientific basis for new mothers to eat wine-infused dishes all day long. However, to promote faster healing, mothers are advised to eat healthy, balanced and nutricious meals. 


The bottom line is that all new mothers should be taken good care both physically and mentally. Family members can volunteer to take up chores and help to take care of the newborn so that the mother can take enough rest. 


Wish all new mothers can go through a happy and comfortable postpartum period! 


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