The delivery of the precious bundle of joy is almost always the highlight of any pregnancy; seeing the face of your labour of love (no pun intended) for the first time and all the pain just simply melts away. However, right after that is the moment when most mothers dread; the moment when you are dictated by culture (in Malaysia at least) to go on a post-delivery confinement ‘programme’ consisting of bland food, minimal contact with the fan or air-conditioner, minimal physical movement, being cooped-up in hot rooms which would give spas a run of their money and getting all wrapped up in all sorts of bandages and cloths. Some even go to the extent of relinquishing showers or baths for days at a time just because culture frowns upon it. The list is endless and should I have the time and funds to do so, a detailed research of the confinement practices of each cultural group in Malaysia would see me coming up with a book that would equal the thickness of a dictionary.
Now, I have no qualms about mums choosing to abide to all these practices. In fact, some of them may even bring out the best in the early motherhood experience. However, the one thing that is almost always prevalent till today is the urgent needs of mums who have just delivered to get back to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight, and this is almost always accomplished by going on dietary restrictions. Traditional midwives or ‘confinement ladies’ have their own ’10 Commandments’ that all new mothers should abide to. And the one that is always sitting pretty at the top of the list is food restrictions. Some simply go on a diet of watery rice porridge, with a sprinkling of fried anchovies and ginger; some do not even touch fruits or vegetables for fear of having ‘windy’ tummy; others simply down hot soups. Some even forego their pregnancy routines of taking the necessary and recommended supplements. Whatever the dietary practices during this period, it is suffice to say that it is simply not enough.
During delivery, the body may have lost a substantial amount of blood. Tissues need repairing and generally your energy and strength needs to be replenished. This could only be achieved by maintaining a proper diet during the confinement period. It is safe for any mothers (provided you are not allergic to it) to take the right kind of protein such as fish, chicken and meat, which is essential for repair works the body needs. Carbohydrates and essential fats are needed for supplying energy and other metabolic processes. Vitamins and minerals, found in most vegetables and fruits, are also crucial in supporting all these healing processes of the body. So basically, all the food that you were told to eat during your pregnancy, is STILL very much relevant during your confinement period. This also goes on to cover the supplements you took during your pregnancy. In fact, mums who continued with these supplements would recover faster...