Discover the benefits, do’s and don’ts, meal planning tips — and most importantly, how to make it hassle-free, nutritious and delicious!
What is Confinement Food?
Confinement food refers to a series of dishes and soups specially planned for postpartum mothers, with two main purposes of helping them to recover after childbirth and promoting breast milk production.
Many Asian communities around the world have the practice of serving confinement food to mothers right after they give birth, including Chinese, Indian, Malay, Indonesian, Korean, and Japanese.
Although the concept of having confinement food is not present in Western culture, mothers are generally encouraged to have a well-balanced and nutritious diet during their postpartum stage to facilitate postpartum healing too.
Asian confinement foods are often prepared using healthier cooking methods like steaming, braising, stewing and stir frying, and served warm to the mothers. Confinement food has a long history in many Asian cultures, and each culture tends to prepare them with certain ingredients that are traditionally believed to be beneficial to new mothers.
For instance, elderly in the Chinese and Malay communities usually prepare confinement meals using various nourishing herbs for postpartum mothers, and the Indian community usually prepare confinement meals with plenty of garlic and ghee – a type of clarified butter – to help postpartum mothers with recovery.
Chinese Confinement Food?
What is Chinese Confinement Food?
In Singapore, the custom of having confinement food is most widely practiced by the Chinese community. Postpartum mothers are generally encouraged to have confinement food right after giving birth and practice the diet for at least a month, some mothers also choose to have confinement food for 40 days or up to 100 days to ensure that they get a full and proper recovery.
A traditional Chinese confinement diet is usually planned with different recovery goals for each week. Typically in the first week, each confinement meal will be prepared with the main focus of helping mothers to clear any blood clots in the uterus and replenish blood.
Moving on to the following weeks, the confinement food menu will be planned accordingly to help mothers nourish the blood, replenish and balance “qi”, and promote breast milk production.
All these recovery goals are achieved using a series of traditional Chinese herbs combined with different meat and vegetables, based on traditional Chinese medicine principles.
Common Ingredients Used in Chinese Confinement Food
Some Chinese herbs that are commonly used in confinement food include dang shen, gan cao, ginseng, dang gui, red dates, wolfberries and chuan xiong.
On the other hand, in terms of fresh ingredients, traditional Chinese confinement foods are most commonly prepared using pork, chicken, fish and pork innards.
Meanwhile, for vegetables and fruits, as postpartum mothers are weak and their body is believed to be in a “cold” state according to traditional Chinese medicine concept, mothers are advised to avoid certain vegetables that are “cold” in nature, including cucumber, bitter gourd and winter melon, whereas fruits are generally not encouraged, especially fruits with “cold” nature like pear, watermelon, and persimmon.
Chinese Confinement Diet Now and Then
Traditionally, Chinese confinement diet, and Chinese confinement practice as a whole, comes with various restrictions, where mothers are only allowed to have a limited selection of dishes that are prepared using large amounts of “heaty” ingredients like ginger, herbs and sesame oil to keep the body warm.
While the initial intention of these diet practices come from a good place, some of them might not be based on scientific facts and may do more harm than good to the mother’s health when done excessively.
For instance, having the same food consecutively over a month may cause a lack of balance in a mother’s diet and aggravate postpartum symptoms like postpartum constipation. Not to mention having the same food repeatedly may become boring and affect a mother’s appetite, resulting in lesser nutrients intake, and eventually slower postpartum recovery and lower milk supply.
That said, over the years, Chinese confinement diet practices in Singapore and around the world have evolved to suit the needs and preferences of younger generations. Families, medical institutions, and confinement care service providers have incorporated modern medical science and nutrition knowledge into the confinement meal planning process to help mothers get balanced nutrition for proper recovery and breastfeeding, all while preserving tradition.
Most Popular Traditional Chinese Confinement Food
In terms of flavour, traditional Chinese confinement foods are usually on the savory side, and they are often prepared using a wide variety of staple ingredients including Chinese herbs, red dates, ginger, sesame oil, and rice wine.
Here are some of the most popular traditional Chinese confinement foods in Singapore – most are so delicious that even people who are not doing confinement love having them, regardless of gender and age!
Pork Trotter Vinegar
Most people would agree that a traditional Chinese confinement diet experience wouldn’t be complete without having pork trotter vinegar. This popular confinement food can help mothers replenish “qi” and blood, expel “wind” and cold, help remove lochia, and promote blood circulation. Most importantly, it contains collagen that helps in strengthening joints and ligaments too.
“Sheng Hua” Soup
“Sheng Hua” soup is a Chinese confinement herbal soup that is served to postpartum mothers in the first week after giving birth to help them remove blood stasis, encourage the discharge of lochia, improve uterine contraction and recovery, and help prevent uterine hematoma. It is one of most widely consumed traditional tonic during postpartum.
Sesame Oil Chicken
This fragrant and homely dish is perhaps the most popular chicken dish among all Chinese confinement foods. It is traditionally believed to help postpartum mothers replenish blood and keep the body warm.
Green Papaya Fish Soup
Many breastfeeding mothers swear by the effectiveness of the green papaya fish soup in helping them to increase their breast milk supply. Green papaya is a lactogenic ingredient that many mothers find very useful in promoting lactation.
Red Dates Tea
Red dates tea is a staple hot drink during confinement, its three main ingredients are dried red dates, longan, and wolfberries. This drink is traditionally believed to be beneficial for mothers in helping them to restore vitality, promote postpartum recovery, and keep the body warm.
Is confinement food
Is confinement food necessary?
As part of the younger generations who are familiar with diet practices from different cultures, it is normal for you to wonder if you really need confinement food after giving birth. You might be thinking, “as long as I eat a healthy diet after giving birth, I will be fine. There’s no need for confinement food.”
Well, to a certain extent, you’re not wrong, but the tricky part here is how to make sure your diet is not only healthy, but also fulfills all your increased nutrient requirements to heal your postpartum wounds and breastfeed.
For instance, C-section mothers should be on a high protein diet to help speed up wound recovery. Also, it is recommended for breastfeeding mothers to have slightly higher calorie intake to keep their body well-nourished throughout the whole breastfeeding journey. Furthermore, it is also important for breastfeeding mothers to have a diet that is rich in calcium to make sure their calcium level is restored as they continuously produce breast milk for their baby.
Hence, to fully recover your body from months long of pregnancy and the strenuous process of childbirth, and to help maintain your wellbeing throughout your breastfeeding journey, you need something more than just a general healthy diet plan.
This is where confinement food comes in. The Chinese confinement diet that is practiced by many modern mothers in Singapore nowadays is more interesting and appetising than most people think. There are even many confinement catering services in Singapore that serve a wide variety of nutritious and delicious confinement food.
At Tian Wei Signature, we work closely with our in-house dietitian and award-winning chef to serve you nutritious and delicious confinement meals, prepared in appetising traditional and fusion style to keep your daily meals interesting. Learn more about our confinement food delivery service now!
How important is it to have
confinement food during postpartum?
How important is it to have confinement food during postpartum?
Having confinement food during postpartum is not purely a tradition, it plays an important role in improving a mother’s health after giving birth, along with supporting the development of her newborn through promoting lactation.
By having confinement food with balanced nutrients and getting plenty of rest, you’re making it easier for your body to recover physically and mentally from childbirth, along with promoting breast milk production and milk flow to benefit your developing newborn.
What are the benefits of
What are the benefits of confinement food?
Whether it’s based on traditional Chinese medicine principles, or modern medical science, confinement foods that are prepared with fresh, healthy and well-balanced ingredients have plenty of benefits to offer.
Firstly, in terms of traditional Chinese principles, confinement food helps you to replenish and promote smoother flow of “qi” and blood, dissolve blood clots, and promote breast milk supply.
On the other hand, in terms of modern medical science, the wide variety of ingredients used in confinement meals offers various essential nutrients to benefit you. For example, pork and pork innards that are commonly used in many Chinese confinement dishes are actually high in iron to promote collagen formation, and supply oxygen throughout your body to promote wound healing. Also, the meat and poultry used in many classic confinement foods are generally high in protein to speed up wound healing and support the immune system.
When to plan for
When to plan for confinement food?
While you have the freedom to plan for your confinement food in any stage of your pregnancy, a great time to start is during your second trimester or the early stage of your third trimester. Why so?
Well, this period is usually when most pregnant mothers are in the most comfortable stage of their pregnancy, where their pregnancy symptoms are generally milder and more manageable, allowing more time and flexibility to research, survey, plan and even do food-tasting for their confinement meals.
Here are some of the key aspects you can consider while planning for your confinement food:
- Are you planning to cook your own confinement food or get professional help? If you’re planning to prepare them on your own, check if you are equipped with the right kitchen tools, utensils, and you might also want to make enough storage space in the shelves and fridge to keep the ingredients easily accessible.
- Do you have family members and friends who are experienced with confinement food? If yes, it might be a good idea to ask whether they can help to prepare your daily confinement meals, or simply get their suggestions during your meal planning process!
- Do you have any food allergies or health concerns that should be taken into consideration in the planning process? Consult your doctor or dietitian if you have any doubts on foods you should have and avoid during postpartum.
To summarise, whether you’re planning to preparing your own confinement food or get professional help, it’s best for you to complete your confinement food planning earlier so that you can be sure that you’ll have sufficient nutrients from Day 1 of postpartum, and focus on showering your little one with all your love and attention!
How to cook
How to cook confinement food?
Preparing a confinement meal might sound challenging, but with the right information and plenty of practice, you can whip up a hearty bowl of confinement food successfully too!
First thing first, you need to decide on the confinement dishes that you want to have, and search for the recipes online. Some of the best confinement food Singapore mothers love include braised pork trotter in black vinegar, sesame oil chicken, ginger fried rice, and green papaya fish soup.
After deciding on your recipes, list down the utensils and ingredients needed. If you’re not familiar with choosing Chinese herbs, there are plenty of pre-measured and pre-packed confinement herbal soup sachets in the market to make things easier for you!
If you prefer to skip all the hassle of preparing confinement meals on your own, yet still want to have nutritious, healthy, and delicious confinement food at home, a great option is to engage with a confinement food caterer like Tian Wei Signature!
Why engage with a
Why engage with a confinement food caterer?
With the right confinement food caterer, you can enjoy all of the following perks (along with the convenience, of course!) during your confinement at home:
- Smoother recovery: A confinement food caterer that offers a menu filled with nourishing ingredients can help speed up your postpartum recovery.
- Easier breastfeeding: A breastfeeding-friendly confinement food caterer will serve dishes that help you with lactation and make breastfeeding less stressful for you.
- More space in the fridge to store breast milk: No more stuffing your fridge with different confinement food ingredients and leftovers! You get more space to store and access breast milk easily!
- More quality time with your loved ones: You get to spend more quality time with your parents and husband as they no longer have to plan, buy and prepare confinement meals and clean up after each meal.
- More restful sleep: With a confinement meal delivery service, your rest time will not be interrupted by oily smoke and food prepping sounds from the kitchen multiple times a day.
- Smoother transition to motherhood: Without the hassle of preparing your own confinement food, you focus on bonding with your newborn and enjoy a smoother transition to motherhood!
How to choose a
confinement food delivery service?
How to choose a confinement food delivery service?
With multiple confinement food delivery Singapore services available, how should you decide on which confinement food delivery service to book? Here are some of the important questions you should check with the caterer before booking:
What types of healing ingredients are used?
On top of traditional Chinese herbs, what other ingredients is the confinement meal caterer using to help you heal postpartum wounds, replenish blood and keep you energised?
Are the confinement meals breastfeeding-friendly?
Your newborn needs sufficient, nutritious breast milk supply to grow. Do the confinement meals include milk-boosting ingredients that can help promote your milk flow and keep it nutritious for your baby?
Are the confinement meals well-balanced?
Will your daily meals include a balanced portion of vegetables, meat, and healthy grains? It’s even better if the caterer works with a professional dietitian to plan your confinement meal menu.
Is the confinement food menu repetitive?
Is there a wide variety of dishes on the menu? If you prefer having more than just Chinese food, it’s a good idea to opt for a caterer that offers a mix of traditional and creative confinement cuisine.
How will your confinement meals be served?
How will your meals be packaged? It’s best that the caterer serves your meals in thermal containers to keep them warm and fresh.
Is the service flexible?
Need lunch but not dinner? Skipping meal delivery on weekends? Wish to opt-out certain ingredients in your meals? Ask what the service provider can do for you before you book.
choose Tian Wei Signature
Why choose Tian Wei Signature confinement food?
Looking for the best confinement food delivery Singapore service? Here’s how Tian Wei Signature makes your confinement food experience a nourishing and interesting one!
- Fusion Variety: Wide range of fusion and traditional meals with 90+ meat and vegetable dishes
- Breastfeeding-Friendly: Various milk-boosting lactogenic ingredients included
- Dietitian-Guided Menu: Nutritious and well-balanced meals that benefit you and your breastfed newborn
That’s not all, we have more to offer! At Tian Wei Signature, your daily confinement food will be served in thermal flasks, biodegradable containers, and packed in a thermal bag, so that you can enjoy fresh and warm confinement food at your doorstep every day! With on-time daily doorstep delivery, you can also enjoy the flexibility of choosing lunch delivery, dinner delivery, or both!
Some of the popular dishes love by mothers on our confinement food menu include Braised Pork Trotter in Black Vinegar, Coq Au Vin, Black Sesame Pan Seared Salmon, Red Fermented Wine Chicken, Seared Salmon with Cauliflower Cream, Green Papaya Fish Soup and many more. Learn more about our confinement food delivery service now!
Confinement Food FAQ
What should I eat during
The best confinement food is one that can make postpartum recovery and breastfeeding easier for you. With these two goals in mind, here are some of the essential nutrients you should have during confinement and the best food sources to get them:
- Foods rich in Vitamin A can help improve your collagen formation to promote wound healing. Having foods rich in Vitamin A can also increase its content in your breast milk to help your newborn develop healthy vision. Some of the best foods to get Vitamin A include pumpkin, carrots, wolfberries and pork liver.
- Foods rich in Vitamin B6 helps you and your newborn to have a good immune system. When passed to your newborn through your breast milk, Vitamin B6 can help your newborn’s healthy brain development. The best sources of Vitamin B6 include pork ribs, chicken and salmon.
- Foods rich in Vitamin C improve your iron absorption to build healthy red blood cells. Vitamin C also helps promote postpartum wound healing, and when passed to your baby through breast milk, it helps with the growth of skin, teeth and bones. Red dates, kailan, capsicum and spinach are some of the best foods to get your boost of Vitamin C!
- Foods rich in Vitamin Folate are important to help you build healthy red blood cells and prevent anaemia. Folate also helps to support your newborn’s brain development through your breast milk, and it helps maintain healthy cells for both of you too! Pork liver, red beans, black beans, lettuce, and amaranth are all great sources of Folate.
- Foods rich in Vitamin Fibre helps you fight postpartum constipation by promoting a healthy bowel system. Fibre can also promote good bacteria and develop good gut health which is essential to support the immune system. On top of fruits and vegetables, beans like red beans, white beans and edamame are also great sources of fibre!
- Foods rich in Omega-3 DHA helps reduce inflammation, promote gut health, help prevent postpartum depression and anxiety, and promote your baby’s brain development! Omega-3 DHA is most commonly found in fish like salmon, cod fish, seabass and threadfin.
On top of the nutrients mentioned above, there are more essential nutrients like Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Calcium that are also important for your postpartum recovery. To summarise, a general rule of thumb is to choose wholefoods over processed foods, and keep each confinement meal well-balanced by a sufficient portion of fruits, vegetables, protein and wholegrains.
What food should I avoid
As postpartum mothers need a variety of balanced nutrients to properly recover from childbirth, you shouldn’t place unnecessary food restrictions on your confinement diet. That said, you should avoid processed foods and fried or fatty foods as they have limited nutrients and provide excessive salt, fat and sugar. Foods like these more often than not provide empty calories and can affect energy metabolism, hormone regulation which will subsequently affect the rate of recovery during confinement, and cause further inflammation on postpartum wounds.
If you’re breastfeeding, you should also minimise your intake or completely avoid dietary practices that provide excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol. Excessive caffeine intake may leak into breast milk and may make your infants more jittery, fussy or have poorer sleeping patterns. On the other hand, excessive alcohol intake can leak into breast milk and put your infants at risk of impaired infant’s development, growth, and sleep patterns. “Moderate consumption of only 1 glass a day is not known to be harmful” as advised by the Central of Control and Disease Prevention (CDC). So if you do choose to drink, then wait at least 2 to 3 hours before you nurse your child again as alcohol in the blood starts to taper down after in order to reduce exposure of alcohol to your infant.
Last but not least, if you’re following a traditional Chinese confinement diet, you may be advised to avoid certain foods that are “cold” in nature, such as crabs, cucumber, bitter gourd, and winter melon.
Why can't I eat spicy food
Hot and spicy foods may cause some stomach discomfort or heartburn in some mothers if they are sensitive to such foods. However, if you are used to them, and both you and your newborn have no discomforts after you have spicy foods, you can have them during postpartum.
Can I eat confinement food
Certain confinement foods that are prepared using ingredients such as strong confinement herbs are not suitable during pregnancy as it can cause discomforts to the pregnant mother.
If you’re looking to decide on a confinement food delivery service by trying their food during pregnancy, most confinement food caterers in Singapore provide confinement food trial sets that are generally suitable for pregnant mothers to consume.
At Tian Wei Signature, our confinement food trial sets include the Signature Trial meal set and Normal Trial meal set. For the Signature Trial, you’ll receive 3 bite-sized fusion dishes and 3 bite-sized traditional dishes along with a rice, soup, dessert and red dates tea.
Meanwhile, for the Normal Trial, you’ll receive the meal that is being served on the delivery day itself, which would either be a traditional or a fusion meal, which includes one meat dish, one vegetable dish, one staple, one soup and one cup of red dates tea.
All dishes in our trial meals are suitable for pregnant mummies to consume as we do not include strong confinement herbs in them. These herbs will only be used in your actual confinement meals after childbirth to support your postpartum recovery. Give our trial meals a try today!
Where do I buy confinement
food in Singapore?
The easiest way would be booking online! If you’re looking to book the best confinement meal Singapore service with a nutritious, delicious and interesting menu, we at Tian Wei Signature offer you all of them and more!