The confinement period, or the first forty days is something taken seriously by the Chinese, Malay and Indian community here in Singapore. This is because the confinement period is a time when physical changes that occurred in the last nine months will revert to the original state. This is also the time when you may need to follow strict instructions, taboos, dos and don’ts, and myths. Here are six confinement myths and facts adapted from the pregnancy book to help you get along. According to The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth, a pregnancy book written by Associate Prof Tan Thiam Chye, Dr Tan Kim Teng, Dr Tan Heng Hao, Associate Prof John Tee Chee Seng from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
- Myth: I am not allowed to drink plain water at all during confinement.
Fact: Adequate fluid consumption is advised especially if the mother is breastfeeding. The kidneys will produce more urine in the first few weeks after the baby is born to remove the excess fluid that has accumulated during the course of the pregnancy. Hydration is also important for breastfeeding mother so as to ensure a good milk flow for the baby.
- Myth: Giving birth means that I may now fall into depression.
Fact: It is true that most women experience sad or depressed moods, starting a few days after the baby is born, and continuing for varying lengths of time. Known as baby or postnatal blues, these symptoms are believed to be associated with hormonal changes following the birth of the baby. Fortunately, this mood is of a relatively short-term duration and most women recover from it.
- Myth: I should be consuming liver and meats only.
Fact: The belief here is that the mother has been“cooled” by the delivery, and there is a need to eat “heaty” foods such as meat. Whatever your beliefs are, it is important to have a well-balanced diet rather than specific food types to replenish the body’s stores.
- Myth: I am not allowed to bathe or touch water.
Fact: There is no basis to these beliefs. In fact, bathing regularly ensures good personal hygiene and comfort. It reduces the incidence of skin and wound infections.
- Myth: I must not expose myself to any wind drafts or air-conditioning.
Fact: For personal comfort, there is definitely no harm in switching on the air-conditioner or fan, as long as it makes you comfortable. It may even help prevent heat rash from developing.
- Myth: I cannot have sex for 40 days.
Fact: This is against the religious teachings of certain cultures. However, from a medical perspective, it allows for the lochia (vaginal discharge) to be over and the episiotomy wound to be completely healed, and may even reduce the occurrence of infections.