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All about confinement (坐月子)

Confinement is the traditional Chinese practice of seclusion at home after childbirth, following a strict regime to ensure healing and nourishment of the body. As the name Zuo Yue Zi suggests, confinement is for the duration of one month, but can be up to 45 days for greater healing. During Zuo Yue Zi, the woman is not to exert herself, so her mother or mother-in-law will live with her to cook and clean. Among modern families, the practice now is to hire a confinement nanny or to choose a confinement meal delivery service.

 Why confinement?

The Chinese believe that giving birth is a very stressful and depleting experience on the body, which is why the woman needs a long period of intensive rest and nourishment to restore the body to its original health. Aside from this, it is also good for the woman as she is given the time to spend time quietly bonding with her baby.

RELATED: 12 tips of practicing confinement without hiring help

What is involved in Zuo Yue Zi?

There are many rules surrounding confinement, which include the following:

  • Staying at home for the entire month without seeing any visitors
  • Spending most of your time in bed or resting
  • No showering or baths for the first ten days. After that, you may shower in hot water or occasionally take a herbal bath e.g. ginger and lemongrass.
  • No hair washing at all. You may use a dry shampoo, if needed.
  • Dressing in warm clothes and socks to prevent the body from chills. Air-conditioning is not allowed.
  • A confinement diet comprising on high-energy, high-protein foods such as tonic chicken, fish and eggs. Soups are good, especially those with herbs like red dates, dang gui and black fungus.
  • Drinking only warm water. Some do not drink plain water at all, but only red date teas or barley water.
  • Drinking DOM for warming up your body as it’s infused with many herbs. If you don’t like the taste, put it in your food.
  • No reading, watching TV or crying. It’s believed that a woman’s liver and eyes are weak after childbirth, so you should avoid activity that weakens them further

RELATED: Why confinement wasn’t for me

You may find some of these rules restrictive. Most of them are based on traditional Chinese medicine principles and folk wisdom, which is why they are worth respecting. However, you’ll find that most women do break a rule here and there, and it’s generally okay.

Should I hire a confinement nanny?

Confinement practices used to be passed down in families but in modern Singapore, most people no longer do so. This is why many couples choose to hire a confinement nanny. The rate in Singapore is typically between $2,000 to $2,600 for a live-in nanny who will help you with the baby, cook your confinement meals and do some housekeeping. The cost will be cheaper if you opt only for a day nanny, or a confinement meal delivery service.

RELATED: How confinement is practiced around the globe

Overall, if you can afford it, it’s a great aid to have a nanny to look after both you and the baby for the first month after birth. Not only can you get more sleep, you’ll benefit from the wisdom of an older woman who’s raised her own children.

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