Confinement Diet Then vs Now | Are You Up To Date?
Postpartum confinement refers to a traditional practice after childbirth that is focused on helping mothers recover and improve their well-being after delivery. However, did you know that confinement actually went the other way round for some women? In China, there were cases of women passing out or even losing their lives due to extreme confinement practices.
While these are extreme and rare cases, it shows that even with the best intention, unfounded and outdated confinement practice can actually do more harm than good. Fortunately, old confinement practices have been improved based on modern medical and nutrition knowledge. Confinement diet, in particular, has changed over the years to be more diverse and well-balanced. Are you aware of these modern confinement diet practices?
Then: Completely Avoid Drinking Plain Water
It was believed that drinking or even touching plain water during confinement will cause water retention or the body to be too cold. Hence, mothers should only drink red dates tea or other “heating” beverages.
Now: Drinking Plain Water Is Beneficial
Staying hydrated is especially important for breastfeeding moms. On top of affecting milk supply, skipping water is likely to cause other issues such as dehydration and constipation. To keep your tummy warm, you can drink warm water instead of cold water.
Then: Use Wine In All Dishes
This practice is based on the belief that mothers’ bodies have been “cooled” by the delivery, hence they need to consume alcohol in every meal to keep their body warm and boost blood circulation. Some would even go to the extent of completely replacing plain water with wine in the process of cooking.
Now: Consume Alcohol In Moderation And Based On Personal Condition
Consuming wine or other alcohol in confinement dishes has no harm if it is done in moderation. Every woman’s body is different, so dishes with alcohol might not be for everyone. For example, there are women who are allergic to alcohol. If you are breastfeeding, you should avoid alcohol too, since it can be passed on to your baby through breast milk.
Then: Only Eat Liver & Meat, Do Not Eat Fruits & Veggies
Here’s another practice based on the belief that the mother’s body is in a very cold state after childbirth, and there is a constant need to eat “heating” foods such as liver and meat and avoid “cold” food such as fruits and vegetable all together.
Now: Eating A Well-Balanced Diet Can Speed Up Recovery
It is important to have a well-balanced diet rather than relying on specific food to replenish the body and speed up recovery. This is even more important during the breastfeeding stage. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, fibre, and other nutrients that work wonders in repairing body tissues and restoring blood to its normal levels. They also help in relieving constipation, which is a common issue among mothers after childbirth.
Then: Do Not Add Any Salt In Meal
It is believed that consuming salt during confinement will cause water retention and harm the baby who is still being breastfed. The older generations also believed that consuming salt during confinement will decrease mother’s milk supply.
Now: Cut Down On Salt, Not Completely Avoiding It
Salt contains sodium, and sodium may worsen water retention for some mothers. While it is true that you should cut down on your salt intake during confinement, it is not necessary to completely avoid salt. Adding salt and other seasonings in moderation will help you to increase your appetite, gain more nutrients from your meals, and hence speed up your recovery. Furthermore, consuming a healthy amount of salt is actually beneficial to mothers. During the first week after delivery, you will urinate and sweat more than usual, hence it is important to ensure sufficient water and salt intake.
Then: The More Herbs The Better
According to traditional Chinese medicine theories, a woman’s “Qi” is drained during childbirth, so she should consume plenty of herbal tonics and herbal dishes to boost energy and blood, and to expel “wind”.
Now: Consume Herbs In Moderation And Based On Personal Condition
Chinese herbs do aid in energy restoration and blood circulation in the body. However, just like any other food, moderation is the key. Consuming excessive amounts of herbs can make the body too “heaty” and even cause bleeding. Instead of estimating the dosage on your own, consult a qualified Chinese medicine physician or practitioner for a recommended dosage according to your physical condition.
Then: Only Eat Traditional Confinement Dishes
Many still believe that only traditional Chinese confinement cuisine that uses a lot of herbs, wine, sesame oil and intestines is suitable to replenish and recover the body after childbirth. These include classic confinement dishes such as pork trotter vinegar, sesame chicken and red fermented wine chicken. Food from other foreign cultures, such as Japanese or Western food are seen as “cold” or unhealthy and should be avoided during confinement.
Now: Fusion Confinement Meals Are Just As Nutritious
While there is no doubt that confinement food should be healthy and nutritious, they certainly don’t have to be boring! When cooked with the right ingredients and method, fusion food can be just as nutritious and delicious for new mothers. Not to mention a confinement diet of alternating traditional and fusion meals can keep meal time more enjoyable and appetizing. For example, Japanese and Mediterranean fusion cuisine contain nutritious food ingredients that aids in postnatal recovery.
Then: Meticulous Daily Meal Preparation
When it comes to eating healthy during confinement, families used to stack up their kitchens with poultry, herbs, wines, red dates, and sesame oil, and use plenty of these ingredients in every meal throughout the day. Daily meal preparation was troublesome too, since most traditional Chinese confinement dishes require long hours of meal prep and cooking (e.g.: pig trotter vinegar and herbal soups). Eating out or ordering food from a caterer is seen as unhealthy, as the common perception is that these foods contain MSG and other excessive seasonings that are harmful to the mothers’ bodies.
Now: Confinement Meal Is Now Healthy, Tasty & Hassle-Free With Delivery Service
The days of troublesome confinement meal preparation are over with the popularization of confinement meal delivery service. In fact, these confinement meal caterers are trusted by most modern moms in Singapore to stay nourished during confinement. Tian Wei Signature is an award-winning confinement food caterer that offers MSG-free, nutritious and delicious confinement meals, made with the freshest ingredients following Chinese postpartum food recipes and fusion confinement food recipes. All you have to do is just book online and get healthy and tasty confinement meals delivered to your doorstep!
To conclude, a wholesome confinement diet will bring you long term health benefits. Meanwhile, this is not to say all traditional confinement diet practices are incorrect. The key is to think about the reason or purpose behind any confinement diet practices when you come across them, and make adjustments to suit your condition.