So you’re supposed to take confinement herbal baths during your postpartum period, but what’s actually in those packets the medicinal shops sell? Is it better to use these pre-packaged baths or boil your own herbs for your bath? We look into what goes into the confinement practice of herbal baths.
Why take a confinement herbal bath?
Herbal baths are a component of not just Chinese confinement, but also of Malay and Indian confinement practices as well, which show how important they are seen in Asian culture. If you look back into history, you will see why herbal baths were essential for women.
Remember that in the olden days, there was no sanitised water that came from the tap. That meant women were at risk of getting an infection from contaminated water, which could be deadly, given their weakened immunities.
In addition, there is the belief that continues until today that you can catch “wind” from exposing yourself during a bath. This is why herbs are added to the bath to give a “warming” and “invigorating” effect that will heal the body.
What herbs go into a confinement herbal bath?
The ingredients that go into a herbal bath can vary depending on your culture, confinement lady’s opinion and what’s being sold at shops. However, the following are common ingredients found in a herbal bath.
- Betel leaves
- Pomelo skin
- Da feng ai (Blumea balsamifera)
- Bu bu grass (Phyalis angulata)
- Chuan xin lian (Andrographis paniculata)
- She cao (Clinacanthus nutans)
- Argy wormwood leaf (Artemesia argi)
- Motherwort herb (Leonurus cardiaca)
- European verbena (Herba verbenae)
- Orientvine stem (Caulis sinomeni)
Are confinement herbal baths hygienic?
Whether herbal baths are hygienic or not depends on how the herbal baths have been prepared. If you buy loose herbs, you are able to wash them thoroughly and boil them well before using them in your bath. This way, you know for sure that the herbal bath is clean and safe to bathe in.
If you are using a pre-packaged confinement herbal bath, you won’t know how it’s prepared, so always boil the sachets in the water for at least 30 minutes to kill all germs. Never just toss them into a hot bath like you do with bath salts. With herbs, the longer you boil them, the more nutrients there will be in the water.
If you’re still concerned about hygiene, you could also finish up your dip with a quick wash with an anti-bacterial shower gel like Dettol or a specially formulated lemongrass confinement shower gel.
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