Saturday 19 March 2011

Confessions of a Confinement Rule Breaker

"If you think pregnancy was tough, the aftermath will be tougher!", so exclaimed many mothers to potential mothers-to-be. I used to get really worried by these comments when I was pregnant as I absolutely hated being pregnant. Like I said before, pregger's glow is soo overrated! I refuse to believe that anything could be worse!
Baby J just after delivery
But it was. And not because it was tough taking care of a new baby (and believe me it was tough but I had a lot of assistance in that department in the form of my mum-in-law, lucky me I know) but because of the dreaded Asian Confinement that we had to go through! Generally, all Chinese mothers in Singapore have to go through a month-long confinement period after delivery where someone (usually their mother, mother-in-law or confinement lady) would take care of us and make sure that we follow the rules and recover well. While I get that their intentions are good, some of the rules just doesn't make sense to me.

To back up a little for those of you not familiar with Chinese traditions, we Chinese have all sorts of rules and regulations to follow for just about everything, from weddings to the New Year and even funerals. Although I do believe that some traditions are necessary for us to remember our roots and love our heritage, some are just plain weird.

So I confess. I did it. I broke all the rules.

Broken Confinement Rules:

1) No Going Out
I mean like, this was supposed to be intuitive. Like the whole point of calling it 'confinement' was that you weren't supposed to go out. The reasoning behind this was that you are supposed to be giving your body enough rest plus hanging with the public increases the risk that you might catch some horrible illness or worse, pass it to your baby. Although I do see the point in their logic, facing a screaming baby and four walls everyday at home was killing me! I want to shop. I need to shop!

And so I did. Shop I mean. My baby was scheduled to see her pediatrician 5 days after her delivery for her slight jaundice, and I took the opportunity to go shopping at Anchorpoint with the baby, stitches and all. Later I went out at least once every week to go grocery shopping at Great World City or other errands. I refused to be stuck in confinement prison!

2) No Air-Conditioning
The reasoning for this is that it is believed that women after giving birth will get 'cold' easily and this will cause us to be susceptible to rheumatism. Therefore, to avoid getting 'cold' (and rheumatism when we're older) we have to avoid air-condition. For those of you lucky ones who live in colder climates and don't really understand the fuss on this one, please remember that Singapore is summer all-year-round so air-conditioners are a must in our super hot environment. But not having it was a definite no for me! Even after my girl was born, I continued to feel hot flushes in my body. So much so that even in an air-conditioned hospital room, I had to get the nurse to add a fan at my bedside or I can't sleep! Haha.

3) No Cold Drinks
This is of course coming from the belief that we are to abstain from things that will make us 'cold'.
This was particularly hard for me as I'm a super coke light addict. Plus I was breastfeeding so I can't be drinking stuff that contained caffeine. But after trying to stick to this rule for a week, I couldn't take it anymore and secretly drank some coke light. Whoops! It was just a sip.. honest! *laughs*

4) Wear Bedroom Slippers
Again the reasoning is that the 'coldness' from the floor will 'travel' into your body through your feet. But in our hot climate, I gave up on it after just a week and made a compromise with my mum-in-law to wear it when the hubby's granddad came over just 'for show' =)

5) Eating Confinement foods
Confinement foods are specially cooked foods containing incredients that will help a new mother regain her health after giving birth. You can read more about confinement foods and rules here. I had to force certain foods down my throat while others were more appealing.
Essence of Chicken
I'm one of those weird people that actually like to drink this =)

6) No Bathing
For at least a week! I'm serious. This was actually the most ridiculous rule of all to me. Plus you have to wipe yourself with water that had Chinese herbs added. The belief is again that this will prevent you from getting 'cold'. But with this super hot climate, how can anyone survive this? I didn't care and went ahead to bathe at the hospital anyway (I'm one of the only ones that do, can you believe it). And to reach a compromise with my mum-in-law, I decided to bathe normally with warm water in the morning and wipe with herbal water at night (since it is colder at night). Best of both worlds if you ask me.

People say I will pay for this decision later when I am old. Probably. But I'm hoping someone will invent some kind of cure for rheumatism for us rule-breakers someday *cross-fingers*
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