Many people find confinement an outdated practice with no reason to abide and follow after giving birth. In this modern day and age, some mothers may object to the practice of staying indoors for a month, controlled movement and not allowed to have visitors into your home. However, the practice of confinement has been done for thousands of years proving effective for mother’s after giving birth to get through her toughest days.
The period after giving birth will be extremely challenging for the mother with the body being left weak and will require extensive care to recuperate. No matter whether it’s the mother’s first,second or third child, the trauma her body will experience will be intense. For mother’s that will be required to go back to work as they may not have the luxury to undergo confinement will be very tough for them and may suffer from possible complications in the future.
The confinement period is vital for the new mother as it helps aid in her physical recovery with allowing time for the household to adjust to its newest member. After giving birth, the mother will not only be experiencing physical changes to her body but emotional ones as well. It will worsen if she is exposed to external disturbances hence the need for confinement.
Fun fact! Malaysia has one of the lowest rates of postpartum depression in the world! According to various studies done, mothers that suffer from postpartum depression worldwide range from 10 -15% whilst Malaysia is only at 4%! One of the main reasons why Malaysia’s numbers are so low is because most mother’s will undergo her confinement period from day one – from the dos and don’t after giving birth to the monitoring of her diet and movement around. The practices done in Malaysia during the new mother’s confinement period is done to prevent any future complications for the mother and newborn but also to help with her hormonal rebalancing.
The important healing period for a new mother is the first 6 weeks after childbirth – hence why every culture in Malaysia’s confinement period is a minimum of a month. Mother’s shouldn’t do anything to weaken that entire process. Even though most confinement period diet’s vary depending on the culture, the guidelines will be somewhat similar in Malaysia.
Many mothers do not wish to undergo the confinement period as they’ve heard of the many rules and practices they need to abide by and are often turned off by the idea. Rules including not being able to wash their hair and the use of air conditioning may seem silly but they all help in facilitating the process of healing the mother’s body.
When postpartum women choose to ignore the confinement period and return to their “normal” routines too quickly they expose themselves to various complications. Complications such as postpartum depression, breast infections, heavy bleeding, fatigue, aches and so forth. This is because postpartum rest is not only about resting and getting the mother’s body back into pre-pregnancy state but also physiological, emotional and hormonal transition into parenting. The confinement ultimately is also used to connect the new mother with her child and undergoing the state of pregnancy to being a parent.
Unhealthy diet = unhealthy mother and newborn
It is understandable that after giving birth, the new mother would love to indulge in all her favourite food. But it can be extremely unhealthy not only to you but your newborn. Remember that your body has recently undergone extreme trauma from giving birth and will require proper nutrients to help replenish the lost blood and essential minerals in your body like iron and calcium. Following the special diet for new mothers to adhere during confinement can not only help in milk production but also reduces the chance of postpartum stress.
Loss of connection between new mother and baby
There have been many issues circling around about the strained relationships between a child and their parents. Becoming a significant concern, it should be understood that a healthy relationship can only be created during the initial stages of growth hence why the confinement period is crucial.
This period will allow the new mother to interact with her newborn and form a strong bond. Being able to understand the baby’s needs, how best to nurse them and also how to interpret their cries from needing a nappy change, if they need attention or require milk. More importantly, the new mother is also able to help her newborn form a sleeping pattern and assist in adjusting to their new environment.
Though confinement may be viewed as old fashioned, it still remains relevant to this day. Steps that expecting mothers can do during the confinement period is taking practices done and adjusting them to modern day dynamics. Mothers should also have the freedom of tailoring her confinement period, some may require longer whilst some may not even require the entire month depending on how fast your body recovers and heals.
I’m having extremely bad chronic aches in my back and joints!
Having daily showers and not covering up enough i.e. wearing tank tops in fully air-conditioned rooms is a big no no during the new mother’s confinement period. It is said that complications may arise later on in your life such as backaches and cold intolerance will happen. Mothers will not only feel the cold but the chill of the coldness would reach your bones as well. Depending on the situation, some would feel it more in the shoulders and some more on their backs.
This problem if caught earlier on will not be much of an inconvenience and checks to an acupuncture could help rid this problem but why undergo these aches when it could have been avoided from the beginning?
Your body has gone through a life changing experience but you need to remember that your body’s trauma and pain doesn’t end at the labour ward. It will carry on for some time and it doesn’t matter whether you went through a natural birth or C-section – your body will need recovery all the same. Remembering that when you were pregnant, your back had to work overtime and support your body and will need time to adjust and recover from it.
My body isn’t producing milk for my baby!
Mothers that return to their “normal” life too quickly from their confinement or opt to not do confinement at all who undergo pressure or are feeling fatigue are not able to produce enough milk for their newborn. Once this happens, your newborn will not be receiving enough nutrients.
The first days of your newborn’s life are extremely important and will determine their health and wellbeing. It is detrimental for your newborn to build up their immunity and receive all the necessary nutrients they can get. All of this happens how? Through breastmilk. Be sure to help your baby get all their nutrients by focusing on resting and your recovery.
My body isn’t recovering!
Your body has lost lots of blood during childbirth and you will need to allow your body to recover and repair itself and its own rate. Yes, you can do things on the side like eating a well balanced meal to assist with recovery but you will also need plenty of rest. With the significant loss of blood during childbirth, your body will require time to rebuild haemoglobins and other components of blood to heal.
How would you feel if some continuous was stepping on a raw would you had? That would be extremely painful right? Well, that’s how your body feels when you don’t allow rest for your body to recuperate! Kinda tortuous isn’t it? Remember, whilst you were pregnant, your child was receiving all the nutrients from your system before birth. Hence why, you will need to eat well-balanced meals with plenty of rest to replace all the nutrients and to rebuild your immunity!
I’m so tired, ALL THE TIME!
Once the new mother has given birth and she’s ready to bring her baby home to start their life together, it’s good to remember that every baby has a hard time adjusting to their surroundings. That is because once the baby is born, they are exposed to all the different types of irritants.
Another reason why confinement is so important for the newborn and mother as well! Newborns will require plenty of care and attention throughout the day. If the new mother is trying to juggle handling other household chores or trying to work from home with their job, it can leave her extremely exhausted. Remember stress and fatigue will affect the mother’s milk production which in turn doesn’t provide enough nutrients to both her and the baby!
I think I may have postpartum depression!
It is good to know the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Baby blues are normal to happen during your confinement/ postpartum period and will typically happen a few days after giving birth and can last up to 2 weeks. Symptoms will vary from mother to mother and in most cases, the mother won’t be experiencing the symptoms all the time. Roughly between 70 – 80% of new mothers will experience mood swings after giving birth.
Baby blues are caused by the hormonal changes happening in the mother’s body and symptoms may include: insomnia, mood change, restlessness, irritability, unexplained crying and sadness.
However, postpartum depression may develop at any time after giving and can even develop up to a year after delivery! Postpartum depression will require medical treatment, if your depression lasts longer than 2 weeks after giving birth, or if the new mother has had negative thoughts about harming their baby, complete loss of interest in their baby or withdrawal from their family, she will need to seek help from her doctor immediately.
So, if you are thinking about just skipping the confinement period after giving birth and going straight back into your “normal” life, you may want to think again! Confinement practices have been around for thousands of years and are still practiced today. A good thought to ponder is, if confinement was outdated and irrelevant in today’s society, then why is it still being practiced? Surely it’s helping otherwise other mother’s wouldn’t be doing it, would they? At the end of the day, the confinement period benefits solely the new mother and her baby to strengthen their body with all the nutrients they will need right after a strenuous journey.