In Singapore, many mothers practise confinement, a traditional practice of seclusion or special treatment which typically begins immediately after birth and lasts for 30 days. Practice and duration may vary depending on different cultures.1 After this month, many mothers may feel that they are free from these restricting and rigorous guidelines, but in fact, there are still many precautions to take even after the confinement period.
Traditionally speaking, confinement may last for a month or so, but according to modern science and WHO, the postnatal period refers to the first 6 weeks (42 days) following childbirth.2 This period is an important time for the new mother to recuperate and recover from delivery. Care during this period is especially critical for both mother and newborn infant, not only for survival, but also for their future well-being as major physiological changes occur during this period.2 New mothers should still take precautions and pay attention to their bodies even after confinement so as to achieve a faster recovery.
From a TCM perspective, here are some self-care tips and precautions to take after confinement:
1. Keep warm, avoid direct exposure to wind and cold from air conditioner, and cold water.
According to TCM theory, the mother’s body is deficient in Qi and blood after giving birth, making her more susceptible to invasion of ‘wind’, ‘cold’ and ‘dampness’, which can result in illnesses such as arthritis.
It is advisable to keep the room well-ventilated and of comfortable temperature around 25 ~ 26 degrees Celsius. Mothers should also avoid situations like getting caught in the rain or washing dishes with cold water.
2. Have a balanced and nutritious diet. Avoid cold, spicy, oily and raw food.
New mothers have a weak digestive system, so it is best to avoid such foods to put less burden on the stomach and spleen, preventing constipation or diarrhoea.
3. Avoid strenuous exercise and lifting heavy objects. Have sufficient rest and do not stay up late.
According to TCM, overexertion may further deplete the body’s Qi. Also, staying up late can hinder the production of blood. The best time to sleep is 11pm according to the TCM body clock theory, and to have 7 – 9 hours of sleep everyday.
4. Do light, low-impact and suitable exercises.
- You may start with a gentle walk, gradually increasing the time and pace of your walk at your own pace. Avoid swimming until bleeding has stopped for at least 7 days and make sure you have had your postnatal check (6-8 weeks after birth) and received the all-clear from your gynaecologist.4
- Exercise can not only help to improve blood circulation and make you stronger, it can also help to relieve stress and improve your mental wellbeing.Exercise can not only help to improve blood circulation and make you stronger, it can also help to relieve stress and improve your mental wellbeing.4
5. During the 6 weeks of postnatal period, abstain from sex and taking baths in the bathtub.
- This is to prevent infection and risk of having complications as your body heals.
During the postnatal period, it is common for mothers to consume warming and tonifying food or supplements to boost Qi and blood, as well as to drive ‘wind’ away and promote blood circulation.
However, excessive consumption of such food may lead to stagnation of Qi and accumulation of dampness, generating heat in the body. This may cause other problems such as constipation, dry mouth, sore throat or irritability.
Here is a simple way to gauge your body condition to know whether you should continue to consume warming and tonifying food, or to take a break from it.
Our tongue appearance is not limited to those mentioned above. Check out this article for more information about other tongue indications.
Do take note：
- A normal and healthy tongue is one that is pink with thin coating.
- Tongue diagnosis is not accurate if you eat or drink anything that may stain your tongue (eg. Coffee and tea) before inspection. Also, do not inspect within half an hour after food.
- It is best to inspect your tongue in the day, under natural light.
If you are unsure, a consultation with a physician is recommended for a more accurate diagnosis of your body condition and constitution and to suggest treatment options customised for you.
Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.