January 28, 2019 3 min read

Traditional rules of confinement are a rite of passage in the journey of motherhood. After the birth of the baby, the new mother has to go through a month long confinement period which is believed to help her recover better.

In the Asian context, a lot of rules are associated with confinement. While some of these really help, many are nothing but old wives’ tales.

Here are some of the top confinement myths busted.


1. Have lots of alcoholic beverages to keep warm.

Image source: Food and Wine Magazine

Even though it is true that foods that provide warmth should be consumed in the weeks following the delivery, alcohol is not the answer. Whatever a mother eats, gets passed to the baby through breastmilk. Alcohol content in the breastmilk can be harmful for an infant and could lead to developmental issues. However, some mummies drink cognac or brandy after boiling till the alcohol content disappears. This, when taken in moderation, is not harmful and provides the necessary warmth.

2. Don't drink too much water.

It is believed that if new mothers drink too much water, it will cause water retention in the internal organs and cause their bodies to swell up.

Glass of water
Image source: Times of Israel

This is simply not true. Drinking adequate water is very important for nursing mothers and depriving a mother of the necessary hydration could be damaging to her health. Postnatal hormonal changes cause new mums to sweat and thus it becomes all the more necessary for them to keep sipping water throughout the day to prevent dehydration. However, it is recommended that new mums drink warm water instead of gulping down water straight from the fridge.


3. Don't take a bath.

It is believed that bathing exposes the mother to cold and that it can even lead to bone-health issues such as rheumatism later in life.

This has no scientific backing. In fact, it is advised that new mothers should take a bath with warm water daily for good hygiene. In countries like Singapore where the weather is warm and tropical all year round, washing yourself daily is very important to prevent the build-up of germs and sweat. Also, you don’t want to be sweaty when you hold the baby close during nursing. However, new mothers should take care to dry themselves properly and quickly after a bath to prevent catching a chill.

4. Eat only liver and meat.

These foods being rich in protein and iron should be eaten by new mothers to replenish their lost strength.

Though it is true that new mums require a diet rich in iron and protein, eating only those foods which provide these nutrients is not recommended. A new mother needs a balanced diet to help her recover better and to ensure that the baby also gets adequate nutrients through breastmilk.

5. Don't read or cry.

This belief comes from knowing that the blood loss after a delivery causes eyes to weaken. Hence, the rule states that reading, sewing, crying, or any activity that strains the eyes can further damage the eyes and cause long-term problems with the eyesight.

read book
Image source: Babble

There is no medical backing or research that indicates this could be true. Even though some experts believe that it is true that the blood loss can weaken the eyes, there is no evidence that reading or crying can cause any damage. However, to recover from the blood loss, it is advisable that new mums have foods rich in iron as an essential part of their diets.

6. Don't use a fan or an air-conditioner in the room

This rule stems from the belief that if wind enters the body of a new mother, it might lead to joint pain and affect bone health.

Whether to use a fan/air-conditioner. or not, should depend on the weather. When it’s hot or humid, having a fan or an air-conditioner on in the room is required. The room temperature should be maintained such that it’s neither too hot nor too chilly for the new mum and the baby. However, it is better not to expose new mums to direct wind from the fan or the air-conditioner so that she does not catch a cold.

So, ladies, don’t view confinement as a tedious period. Stay informed and use this time to get plenty of rest as you recover from childbirth. 

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