Post-natal confinement period refers to a traditionally Chinese practice where new mothersobserve various routines fairly diverse from regular day-to-day living for a period ranging fromone week to forty days.These routine primarily include following a special diet tailored to help accelerate the new mother’s recovery from her weakened condition post childbirth. This special diet is made up of confinement foods targeted towards specific functions like dispelling “wind” from the body, quelling “heatiness”, boosting blood circulation, revitalizing strength etc.The mainstay of confinement food comprises common ingredients found in any regular Chinesediet; ginger, egg, sesame oil, black vinegar, Chinese rice wine, pepper, chicken, fish and pork.Other ingredients of confinement food include fairly general herbal provisions like Chinesewolfberry (Gou Qi Zi), angelica (Dang Gui), red dates, dried longans, to not so commonlyconsumed items like Encommiae Bark (Du Zhong) and Polygonum (He Shou Wu).Apart from harnessing healing benefits from food, numerous practices are abided to asreinforcements and preventive measures against the possible onset of ailments commonlyassociated with post delivery aftermaths eg. postnatal hair loss, back aches, rheumatism,premature ageing etc.In essence, the list of practices are meant to shield the body from excessive exposure to elementslike “wind” and damp air, both of which are believed to be main culprits responsible for causingbodily aches and pains, migraines as well as rheumatism.A basic list of confinement Don’ts to avoid “wind” from “chilling” the body would include:1. Do not shower or wash your hair.2. Do not sleep in front of the fan or air conditioning unit or have direct contact withcold, constantly blowing wind.3. Do not drink cold or chilled drinks.4. Do not consume excessively “cooling” foods (like kang kong, cucumber, Brinjal,Chinese pears, barley etc.To minimise weakening the body, practise simple don’ts like:5. Do not lift heavy objects or overexert the body excessively.6. Do not engage in strenuous or high impact exercises.Realistically, some “don’ts” mentioned above may appear difficult to follow through.To overcome them, adopt these recommendations:1. If you must shower, use hot water and take extra care to dry yourself thoroughlybefore stepping out of the bathroom. Try not to wash your hair for at least one week.Alternatively, use herbal dry shampoos to clean your hair.2. Sleep in a cool and dry room; if you must use air-conditioning, keep it at fan mode, not lowerthan 26C.3. Drink warm water; ideally consume red dates tea brewed with dried longan or Chinesewolfberry (Gou Ji).4. Eat a nutritious diet comprising confinement foods tailored to dispel “wind”, revitalizeinternal strength and boost blood circulation.5. Safeguard your womb/c-section wound; avoid lifting heavy loads. If you need to carry your baby, make sure you attempt to do so only while seated.6. If you must exercise, stick to light exercises like walking or mild stretching only after 2 weeks;taking care not injure your c-section wound.Lastly, it is important to note that the fundamental key to a smooth and complete recovery from the exertions of childbirth is to take a holistic approach during the confinement period by having ample rest, eating a nutritious diet of quality confinement food and pragmatically adopting the routines outlined in this article.
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For those of you who have never heard of confinement, this is a concise explanation from http://www.confinementfood.com/confinement-meals.html: