9 November 2016, by Siau Jiahui

Things you probably didn’t know about confinement (Part 1)

More than 38 weeks of pregnancy.


More than 12 hours of labour and delivery.


I’ve survived them all!


If you assume that the next challenge of motherhood is diving straight into the care of the newborn, think again.


Very often, when mummies share their weal and woe of motherhood, they simply skip talking about the grueling 28-day period (or 40-day period if your mum insists on it~) which most Asian women have to endure – CONFINEMENT.


Other than engaging the confinement lady to take care of my baby, and preparing some herbs and tonics to build up my health, I wasn’t exactly prepared for what came next…


You sweat buckets

Even if you are not moving. Even if you are in an air-conditioned room. For the first two weeks, I was sweating so much that I had totally lost count of the number of boxes of tissues that I had used up. During daytime, I had the fan in the living room switched on only at the lowest fan speed, and also, I wasn’t allowed to stand near the half-opened windows to enjoy any breeze!


Enduring the scorching weather of 35 degrees Celsius at 12 noon while having my confinement lunch infused with ginger and rice wine under such conditions? 不流汗才怪!The lower half of my head/hair was constantly so damp that I looked like I just came out of the shower (which OF COURSE didn’t happen).


I kinda gave up on lamenting after seeing sweat stains on my pillow time after time even though the a/c was switched on at night. Postpartum sweating – that’s what they call it – gets rid of the excess fluids accumulated during pregnancy. It’s perfectly normal. 无需惊慌。Or could the large amounts of ginger and rice wine in my confinement diet be the accomplices for my exploding sweat glands??!!


*Sigh* Whatever the answer was, it was ultimately a matter of getting used to the beads of perspiration forming and evaporating, forming and evaporating, forming and evaporating… you get the picture.


Your wound hurts like hell

I knew that my gynae had given me an episiotomy when I saw her stitching me up after the delivery. What I didn’t know was that the wound can hurt so badly, and for so long.


For the first few days, I had difficulty sitting and walking. In fact, my mum commented that I walked like an old woman with my laggard gingerly movements!


Also, when the blood flow increased, the pelvic area would feel really sore and uncomfortable. It felt like menstrual cramp all over again… And just when I thought the wound was healing decently, the pain and soreness re-appeared. Totally unpredictable.


You spend more time in the toilet than in your own room

Say hello to your new best friends – toilet rolls and cotton balls! To prevent any wound infection and to speed up the healing process, there were several steps to follow.


Firstly, always squirt warm water to the area after any form of excretion. Be sure to clean it thoroughly and be careful not to aggravate the wound!


Secondly, dab the wound with cotton balls soaked with an antiseptic solution after cleansing.


Thirdly, change the sanitary pad during each toilet visit.


Fourthly, soak the wound in sitz baths twice a day for 20 minutes.


These may sound easy in black and white, but when you actually get to this, you’ll be amazed with the amount of time you can spend in a poorly-ventilated toilet.


P.S. It didn’t help that my bowels was so active every single day that I had also lost count of the number of toilet rolls that I had used up during confinement! #IAmSoGuiltyICouldNotSaveMotherEarthDuringConfinement

How did these sound so far? Bearable? What I’ve shared in this post were more of the physical changes/demands that new mums would have to adapt to during confinement.


Add to these, the emotional challenges that would surface and magnify because of the hormonal outrage (which I would share in a later post)! *GASP* So mothers-to-be, prep yourselves first!

Though I was feeling really tired and uncomfortable, I couldn't wait to take pictures with my 12-day-old Little T!

Though I was feeling really weak, tired and uncomfortable during confinement, I couldn’t wait to take pictures with my 12-day-old Little T!

Photo Credit: Jen Pan Photography

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