Essential Asian Confinement Practices
Confinement practices differ slightly between the Chinese, Indian and Malay communities in Singapore but they all aim to restore the strength of the new mum and prevent future ill health.
Here’s a breakdown of the rituals practised by the different communities in Singapore:
Chinese confinement rituals
- Some Chinese hire a confinement nanny for a month to care for the mother and baby.
- Mothers are advised against leaving the home for 30 days as it is believed that outdoor pollution will open the pores and allow ‘wind’ to enter the body, making it weak.
- Avoid walking or moving about, or carrying heavy loads
- Bathing and hair washing are avoided, especially avoiding contact with cold water
- Common foods taken are vinegar pigs’ trotters – thought to be a blood purifier; chicken cooked in sesame oil; pork liver and kidney; and specially prepared drinks from a mixture of herbs and preserved dates. Fish and papaya soup is taken to boost milk supply
Malay confinement rituals
- Confinement period of 44 days
- Hiring a traditional masseuse to massage the abdomen and bind the tummy with a special postnatal corset
- Applying a herbal paste to the forehead to prevent headaches, stomach pain and blurred eyesight
- Some take jamu drinks to keep the body warm
Indian confinement rituals
- Confinement period of 40 days
- Garlic milk is taken to prevent ‘wind’
- ‘Cooling’ foods are avoided
- Chilli is not allowed and cooking is done with gingelly oil
- Daily body massages with oil are encouraged
- Bathing is discouraged and if done, it should be performed with special herbal preparations and turmeric powder
- Hair should be washed on odd days during the first two weeks
- The tummy is bound with a piece of cloth measuring six feet
- Sex is prohibited