Confinement: Nourishing the Post-pregnancy Body
The confinement period is a time where new mums recover and rebuild their health after delivery.
While there have been several old wives’ tales or traditional stories and myths that surround confinement practices, one key point which I strongly believe in is taking care of one’s health to nourish the post-pregnancy body.
Herbs, along with healthy meals packed with proper nutrition, can help new mums nurture and boost their health.
Personally, I subscribe to eating well and by that I mean balanced meals and nutritious options where possible, even before pregnancy. Of course, I do give in to my fast food cravings too, but I try to keep that at bay :P
Since this was my second confinement, I pretty much knew what to expect of the food and diet that I’ll be on for the next 28 days (or in my case, I did it for 40 days). But this time round, since the delivery put a slight dent to my body which got me really worried, and the fact that my body constitution ain’t all that great to begin with, I knew I had to eat well to heal and recuperate faster.
Pre-packed Confinement Herbs for the new mum
Prior to delivery, Willis from Mummamia kindly arranged for me to meet with their Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician, Physician Lim Sor San, to have a better understanding on how TCM works for pregnant mums as well as post-delivery.
Physician Lim shared that during confinement, it would be the best time for new mums to restore their bodies as pregnancy and delivery can take a toll on us. Contrary to popular belief, not all herbs are actually bitter as it depends on the functions as well as purpose of them.
Herbal tonic soups are must-haves during confinement, and I’m thankful to be fed with bowls of soups for lunch and dinner. Best of all, after the confinement lady left, these soups were really easy to prepare, especially when a new mum like me struggles to assimilate myself into the new role as a mother of two. Restarting my engines to care for a newborn has been leaving me tired with an increasing sleep debt too!
Mummamia understands the needs of a new mother, and what their bodies undergo after having a baby – fatigue, breastfeeding issues, constipation etc. Hence, to support new mums, they have put together Pre-packed Confinement Herbs ($106/box of 10 packets) to make preparation fuss-free without compromising on quality.
Each vacuum packed pouch holds a set of herbs that focus on 5 key recovery stages of post-partum mums: Expel, Remove, Rejuvenate, Recuperate, Tonify. That means from Day 1 to 5, each bowl of soup addresses different stages. And, the cycle repeats again from Day 6 onwards.
In fact, these herbs have been flying out of Singapore too. New mums who have moved to countries with little access to quality herbs and knowledge about confinement, find themselves struggling. As they believe that herbs can aid their recuperation process during confinement, thus, the most convenient way would be to order and have these pre-packed herbs sent over!
If you’re DIY-ing your confinement, this is a hassle-free way to slurp up tonics. Simply blanch meat, add herbs into pot to cook over stove/pop them into the slow cooker and allow to cook for 1.5-2hrs, and it’s ready!
So, how did the herbal soups fare during the taste test?
Personally, I found the herbal soups palatable, and actually pretty tasty.
How to prepare:
Adding black chicken (a quarter or half a chicken) or pork ribs (approx. 3 pieces) offers additional taste from the meats. And if you follow the instructions to use 1.5 – 2 litres of water, the soups were concentrated and flavourful.
While boiling the soups, we could either pour all the ingredients into the pot or slow cooker directly, or put them into a cloth bag before cooking.
The five different herbal soups taste somewhat different (if you’ve discerning tastebuds like me!), and drinking bowls of goodness everyday made me feel like I was taken care of!
Nursing herbal soup for the breastfeeding mum
Personally, one of the key challenges I’ve faced during my first confinement was breastfeeding.
Despite nursing Vera for 22 months, the journey was peppered with engorgement, blocked ducts, blebs/blisters, and even mastitis. To jump-start the breastmilk supply, I was taking medication which then led to engorgement because the milk wasn’t getting out.
Understanding my concerns, Physician Lim recommended that the Nursing Herbal Soup ($43/box of 5 packets) be drunk for five consecutive days as it would aid with kick starting the milk supply, regulating circulation around the breasts and help make breastfeeding smoother. Thereafter, for maintenance, the Nursing Herbal Soup could be taken once or twice per week.
So this time round, I felt better equipped for the challenge ahead. We got my Mother-in-law to help prepare the Nursing Herbal Soup so that I could drink them while I was still in the hospital.
How to prepare:
The preparation method is the same as the Pre-packed Confinement Herbs.
The soup wasn’t bitter; just a little “woody”, which is very similar to the taste of Du Zhong, a herb that helps to strengthen the back. I had the Nursing Herbal Soup on Day 1 and 2, and by Day 3, I could feel that my breasts were fuller. By the later part of the day, engorgement kicked in!
I was pleasantly surprised that supply came in earlier this time round, and I would attribute it to 2 reasons: Latching every 3hrs during the hospital stay (including at night), as well as the Nursing Herbal Soup.
To be honest, I stopped drinking the Nursing Herbal Soup at Day 2 because I was worried that the milk was not getting out yet supply was building up so fast. I’ve since sorted it and the flow has been fine (thankfully!!).
During week 3, seeing that I’ve not been drinking the Nursing Herbal Soup, the hubs suggested that I consume another bowl of it. Not sure if my supply was at the stage of increasing to meet the needs of the little one, but I somewhat felt fuller not long after drinking it. Guess that bottle of fenugreek that I’ve bought beforehand shall continue sitting in the cabinet :P
Herbal bath for post-pregnancy
Confinement beliefs surround the idea that mums should not shower during confinement.
This might have held true back in the olden days in China during winter, and the fear of catching a cold was legit. In hot and humid Singapore, more and more women are rejecting this claim, and baths are taken for hygiene reasons and to prevent infection of wounds.
That said, herbal baths are popular should new mums wish to bathe during confinement. The pre-packed herbs of Ban Kah Chai Mom Confinement Herbal Bath ($9.50/box of 4 packets) were very easy to prepare – almost like making a cup of tea!
How to prepare:
Place two sachets of herbs in a pail/pot and simply pour boiling water over and let it steep for two minutes. You may wish to top up with warm water, and let it cool to a comfortable temperature before bathing.
Don’t forget to use your shower foam and cleanse just like how you would when bathing prior. Rinse off with the herbal bath, and for me, I did a final rinse with warm tap water.
How do I know if these herbs are suitable for myself?
While TCM has been gaining popularity in recent years, the use of herbs is taken with caution especially if one is pregnant, or in this case, breastfeeding during confinement.
Willis from Mummamia advises, “The herbs that go into our products are carefully sourced from credible suppliers to ensure high quality standards. These herbs are suitable for general normal constitutions, and are safe for consumption for most. Should there be a prevailing health issue, do check with your health practitioner prior.”
“At the same time, it is common for babies to react to certain foods that the mother takes, and it does not only apply to herbs. A mother should pay attention if their babies are diagnosed with G6PD as there are certain medicines, herbs and food to be avoided while breastfeeding. Some common foods such as dairy products, may also trigger allergy reactions in breastfed babies,” she advises.
To address this concern, Willis adds that the mother should monitor any sudden or new changes in their babies (e.g. rashes, more wind) after the herbs have been consumed. This is pretty much what a mum can do especially if she has taken new food, and the incidence is usually higher if the allergy is prevalent within the family line. Should there be signs of allergy, it is recommended to stop consumption and to monitor further.
Confinement as easy as 1, 2,3!
Mums, confinement can be a less stressful period, that’s for sure.
Without having to worry about the tonics that you need for your body, these pre-packed herbs definitely come in handy so you can focus on recovery as well as caring for your new baby.
If you are concerned about the authenticity of TCM herbs or if the products might not be regulated, take heart that the Health Science Authority (HSA) in Singapore takes a strong stand on health products (not just TCM, but also products such as eye creams too!). Mums can also find Mummamia products conveniently available at retail stores including Mount Alvernia Hospital (Pharmacy), Thomson Medical Centre (ParentCraft Shop), 1010 Mother and Child, Mom Essentials stores, TCM Enterprise @ Aperia Mall, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Spring Maternity Stores, as well as their online store. That’s added assurance too!
***CONTEST & GIVEAWAY ALERT!***
Breastfeeding mums, stand to WIN the Nursing Herbal Soup! 3 lucky winners will get to enjoy the nutritious soups which aim to support mums during their breastfeeding journey.
How to Participate:
1) LIKE The Hooting Post and Mummamia and/or FOLLOW us on Instagram: @deedeedee13 and @mummamiasg
2) SHARE and/or REGRAM the post with the contest mechanics! Don’t forget to set your accounts to ‘public’ so we can verify this step :)
Bonus tip: Double your chances by participating on both Facebook and Instagram!
Terms & Conditions:
1) Contest ends 24 April 2016, 2359 (Singapore time).
2) This contest is opened to Singapore addressees only.
3) Limited to one winner per household.
4) Winners will be announced on our Facebook page and Instagram account, and winners will be required to provide their contact details so the Mummamia team can get in touch with you on the delivery/collection of your prize.
5) Terms and conditions may change without prior notice.
***Exclusive Perks for Readers of The Hooting Post!***
Enjoy 5% off storewide!
PROMO CODE: THP0516
Terms & conditions:
– Valid till 31 May 2016.
– Excludes acupuncture and pre-natal TCM packages.
– Free delivery for orders above SGD$100. Delivery fee of $10 is applicable for any order below $100.
– Not in conjunction with other promotions and offers.
Mums, did you take tonics and herbs during confinement too? Do share with us your favourite confinement recipes!