Real-life pregnancy and parenting stories set in Singapore, from mums in Singapore. Welcome to our SingaporeMotherhood blog series, where we get local bloggers to share their motherhood experiences – from the awesomeness of seeing that +ve, to the pitter-patter of first steps, to the joys and frustrations of bringing kiddo up in the little red dot. First up: June Yong of mamawearpapashirt tells us about surviving confinement with her third child, Joshua.
Surviving Confinement, the Third Time
Mention confinement and most women will shudder as they think of sweaty, smelly days of no showering, drinking water, or going outdoors. My recent one was bearable thanks mostly to the cool December weather. Plus it was also my third round so I knew what to expect. Here’s what I did to survive the 30 days.
I drank red date tea (made of red and black dates in a 1:2 ratio, plus dried longans and dang shen) daily in place of water. When my red date tea ran out (usually by night-time), I would make a fresh brew of fennel (available at Cold Storage supermarket) or chamomile tea. Fennel helps to stimulate breast milk production and chamomile helps in relaxation. For the first one to two weeks, I ate simple steamed or boiled dishes like steamed fish, fish papaya soup, and chicken stir-fried with ginger and black fungus. Subsequently I had tonic soups cooked with herbs like dang gui and black chicken soup double-boiled with Dom Benedictine.
I avoided cold drinks, vegetables, fruit and bread as the Chinese believe that these lead to more ‘wind’ in the body.
As I didn’t have a confinement nanny, I provided my domestic helper with recipes and a rough meal schedule so that she knew what to prepare each day. My mum also helped with getting the necessary herbs for the red date tea and tonic soups.
Coping with the older kids
As I was busy either breastfeeding, caring for myself, or resting, I barely had energy left over for my older children, Vera and Javier. It helped that the hubby took them out to play on the weekends, and on weekdays when he could get off from work.
As far as I could, I got the kids to help out. Obviously they can’t change diapers, but they were pretty good at fetching things and helping to put soiled clothing into the laundry basket. They also loved talking to and distracting Baby when he was cranky or crying!
When I was able to spend some moments with them, I tried to do activities that they enjoyed, such as painting, simple craft activities, reading, and playing with their skate scooters at the void deck.
This being my third child, I felt my body was seasoned and knew what to do. To me, the keys to successful breastfeeding are ample rest, lots of liquid intake, a good latch, and frequent (at least three-hourly) but short feeds for the first few days. I’m thankful that the hospital provided good support for me during the crucial first days. They helped me latch when I had problems, and also provided me with cold cabbage to ease engorgement. (You may want to read my post on tools to overcome soreness).
As the weather was cool, I managed to shower and wash my hair every other day using water boiled with da feng cao (a chinese herb). On no-shower days, I wiped myself down with a micro-fibre cloth and used a dry shampoo to clean my hair.
Rest and relaxation
As they say, sleep when baby sleeps. So I did. For the entire month, I kept visitors to a minimum so I could focus on baby and get sufficient rest.
After the first week of recovering from my C-section, I felt strong enough to bring baby Josh downstairs for a short morning walk. The 10 minutes of walking under the sun was good for baby and me, though we both had to be wrapped up in warm clothing as December had brought some strong chilly winds!
I also engaged a post-natal masseuse to help with relaxation. Each session began with 30 minutes of steam blanket treatment to purge the body of excess water accumulated over pregnancy, followed by body massage to get rid of wind and to help with toning. I religiously did my body wrap every day, wearing it for close to 20 hours each time.
Play and Bonding
Joshua was a sleepy baby from day one up until practically the end of confinement. But as the time went by, he could keep awake for about an hour in between his naps and I could interact and play with him a bit more. After four weeks, I placed him on his tummy for short one to two minutes each time, and he seems to enjoy it! (It helps to strengthen his neck muscles too so it’s a good workout for him.)
At the end of confinement, we all came together to celebrate Josh’s first month (‘manyue’). To me, it’s a celebration of all the joys and struggles of having a newborn. A rite of passage, in many ways.
What helped you to survive confinement?