Week 34 – Preparing for the Chinese confinement

Second pregnancy

For this second pregnancy, I really *HOPE* to have a better confinement I will be dealing with TWO old Chinese ladies.

My late father is not around and Hubby can only stay for 1-2 weeks 🙁

1. I’ve already engaged a daytime confinement lady

She will go to the market before coming to our home to prepare my breakfast, lunch, dinner and the nutritious supper. She said that she’ll leave after she prepares the supper in the slow cooker for me.
Should I set clear arrival and departure times?
– How should I deal out the cash for shopping?

2. Chinese confinement foods

In terms of food, I’ve only bought the dried longan, Benedictine DOM, (Hubby has even set aside a bottle of Remy Martin brandy for me) and MIL sent me some herbs (steamed with chicken for confinement).
Got my mother lode of ginger-based food and drinks 🙂

3. Confinement clothes

Previously, I wore tank tops and shorts to sleep but now, I’ve bought comfy cotton or “silky” long-sleeved pajamas.

Got cute socks to keep my feet warm too!

4. Herbal Bath and Bath Oils

Post-Natal Chinese herbs are boiled and placed in a pail. No water can be added to that pail! You must learn to wash your hair and clean your body with only that ONE pail of water 🙂

Trust me. Your body will thank you for it when you are 50-60 years old.

Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk

I have been using Dr. Hauschka skin care products for years and the most suitable products for my combination-dry skin are Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk, Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner and Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Revitalizing Day Cream.
Dr. Hauschka Revitalizing Leg And Arm Tonic is another favourite body oil.

Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalizing Bath Essence

5. Massage oil – Dr. Hauschka Birch Arnica Body Oil

If you have  not tried this Dr. Hauschka’s Birch Arnica Energizing Body Oil,you must!

Dr. Hauschka Birch Arnica Energising Body Oil revitalises and warms up your body. Extracts of birch leaf and arnica WARM the skin and encourage flexibility. Perfect for supportive and warming massage before and after increased activity.

6. Sit on a donut ring 🙂
If you’ve had a natural delivery, then your anal region will be *a bit* sore and sensitive for a couple of weeks.

New moms (and also those with hemorrhoids) will appreciate this Donut Seat Memory Foam Cushion Pillow ($19.99) that my late fourth aunt had used during her delivery.

6. I’m most worried about handling the boy and the baby

Since this a daytime CL, I hope that I’ll be able to cope with the preschooler and the baby at night.
The preschooler falls asleep at 10 -11 pm despite my bringing him into the room at 9.30 pm. He’ll roll about the bed, talk FOREVER or dive around until I yell at him!

I’d love to hear from the Moms-of-two (or three!) on how you all survived the confinement. Please, please share!!!

First pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I didn’t have a proper “confinement” because I:

i) Washed my hair and took a bath

I washed my hair and took a bath 4 days after delivery. I also didn’t wear long-sleeved pyjamas but t-shirts and shorts 😛

ii) Lochia (post-partum bleeding) for nearly 20 days (!!!)

I was drinking DOM every night.

iii) Post-partum traditional massage. 

My elder sister had recommended me this but somehow, the days became so busy with the baby, breastfeeding and fighting with the CL and my Mom…

iv) I didn’t get enough rest…

The previous confinement lady was toxic because:
– She loved to stand near the door as I breastfeed to tell me how other women had loads and loads of milk. Looking at me, she said I didn’t have much and might as well just switch to formula milk,
– She hated having to bring the baby over every 3 hours for me to breastfeed (she’d volunteered since she wanted to fulfill her duties). The boy ended up co-sleeping with me.

v) I didn’t drink enough water.

Since I was breastfeeding and the Chinese confinement food and drinks prepared are usually warming foods, that causes you to sweat, I think I was losing too much fluids with low water intake.

If you’re a breastfeeding Mom, you need A LOT of broths and warm drinks, esp the red date and ginger ones 😀

I ran a fever 3 times yet the CL and my mother REFUSED to cut down on the warming foods until my father put his foot down – we had to consult a Chinese physician, who thankfully told them to stop it. Turns out that the CL had put handfuls of dong guai root into all my beverages and soup. (she wanted to finish up the stock, which my elder sister had “encouraged” me to buy.”

vi) I have “windy” feet

My feet aches each time I sit under a ceiling fan or a breezy area. I also can’t stand cool temperatures when I was OK previously. Rheumatism (fong sap)?

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  • a-moms-diary Link

    I bathed every day upon discharge from the hospital, using boiled herb water. But washed my hair only after a week, and subsequently, at 4-5 days interval.

    As for your questions, here are my thoughts based on what I remember during my recent confinement:
    1. I guess as long as your CL fulfills her end of the deal, a little bit of deviation in time should be OK. As for cash, do you know the CL personally, i.e., can you trust her with your money? If you can, perhaps you can give her one lump sum, say RM300 each time and once she exhausts it, she can ask for more from you.

    Kit: Nope, she’s a stranger but she sounds decent so far on the phone. Maybe I’ll check with my Mum on giving her cash for marketing etc…I’ll have a headache keeping track of the lump sums I dole out.

    2. The pre-packed herbs are for soups to go with your meals? If so, you may want to consider buying “dong kuai” and ginseng and ask your CL to double boil them for you to drink at night. But I think you can only drink ginseng after your lochia stops, else it may exarcebate it. You may also want to buy red dates, blue dates, “dong sum” and “kei chee” for CL to boil the red dates tea for you. In both my confinement, mum and subsequently MIL, boiled red date tea for me for the whole month. Apparently post-partum woman should not be drinking plain water (can’t remember the reason – something to do with wind and losing your appetite). And if you think you can consume lots of ginger (which can be heaty), good to get a small sack of Bentong ginger, apparently “hotter” than normal ginger, and hence, better in getting rid of the “wind”. Others to consider are rice wine (if you plan to ask your CL to cook chicken in rice wine), sesame oil, peppercorn. If you prepare as many ingredients as you can, then your CL only need to buy fresh food (chicken/meat/vege) for cooking.

    Kit: Ya, they are pre-packs for soups. Thanks for the shopping list, dear! Can definitely get my Mum or Hubby to help stock up on those first.

    3. I wore my usual t-shirts and track pants. Only wore socks for the first couple of days.

    Kit: I found some cheap cotton PJs in China so will wear those since I dun have that many track pants

    4. I used those pre-packed ones. I think it’s cheaper getting from Chinese medical halls than from EYS.

    Kit: Ok, will check them out!

    5. YY is exactly the same as the boy, as if sleeping early will deprive her of playing/reading/watching VCD time 🙂 I took care of YY and baby myself too each day after YY comes home from babysitter’s. But when she comes home, she would have had dinner and bath, so I don’t need to do much for her so we just spend time reading, chatting, and playing with baby. Don’t worry about taking care of the boy and baby. The baby will be sleeping most of the time anyway, so it’s just the breastfeeding that’ll take up most of your time.

    Kit: I have to feed him dinner since the kindy one is insufficient. Ok, I forgot that newborns sleep a lot…it has been nearly 4 years LOL

    But I never had to deal with mum/MIL dismissing my preference – both were pretty open-minded and didn’t really force their opinion/practices on me 🙂

    Kit: My Mum doesn’t force but she tends to change her mind esp after the old cronies start talking…Will see how it goes. Anyway, I’ve got blogging, FB and SMS lined up already 😉

    Good luck.

  • syn Link

    wish i can help you with the CL but i don’t have any experience with one (i will definitely get one in the future IF i ever go down this path again). anyway, i still think you should set the rules upfront with the CL as it would be kinda akward if you do this along the way.

    confinement clothes? got meh? 😀 …i used to think it’s just sarong and big t-shirts as this is wht i mostly wore during mine. sarong coz it’s easy when u need 2 answer nature calls and big-t’s coz that the easiest to fit into. LOL. and i didn’t wear socks – didn’t feel the need to although the urut lady said that i should. 🙂

    food – my MIL prepared them so i wasn’t at all prepared for this other than the red-dates drink.

    handling no. 1 – oh boy, it wasn’t so easy for me although i had her mostly at the daycare during day time. i guess it’s also depends on how he takes on his new sister. like a-moms-diary, yy was easy to handle so i pray that he is like yy too. for me, rye li was pretty jealous and i know she wants to help me with haye li but i feel it made matters worst (and i had to tahan not yelling at her too much!). also, haye li’s the type that doesn’t sleep much unless being carried, so i really had to juggle with these 2 esp when hubby’s away on his biz travels. hope i didn’t scare you, not my intention at all. who knows, he may be the sweetest kor-kor around when his mei-mei comes.

    Kit: Hehe, I was in t-shirts and sarongs too the first time around but you should hear the CL and my Mum clucking away! This time, I’m gonna be really good with only long sleeves, long pants/sarong and socks because I wanna get that healthy, radiant post-partum look LOL

    Food – My Mum and I had a talk and she’s agreed to cook my breakfast and also supervise the CL’s cooking. I love stuff with sesame oil and ginger anyway so that’s all that’s needed to make me happy! Plus the delicious date tea of course…

    Sibling jealousy – No worries scaring me 🙂 The tyke has been a mini MONSTER these days, I’m prepared for anything!

  • DaRLeNE^_^ Link

    I was really “guai” during my 2 confinements, observing the do’s and don’ts “religiously” for 1 whole month respectively:

    1. didn’t take bath at all –I believe the water from my first bath would have killed all the fishes in the drain haha!

    Kit: Hahaha, my Mum said I could probably wipe myself down after X no. of days and then have ONE bath at the end. My MIL also said I should try it if I can.

    2. wearing long pyjamas and socks and even slippers when walking to and fro

    Kit: Yup, got all the gear ready!

    3. lying down most of the time, except when breastfeeding, eating, and going to the washroom.

    Kit: Wah, this is tough. That means blogging etc not allowed? I CAN read in bed, stare at my baby or sleep in the earlier days esp as I can’t sleep now. Hubby got me a good haul of DVDs to watch 😉 But hope I won’t be dead bored or desperate for the PC later.

    4. come in contact with water as little as possible; and if I do, I only use warm water. I still don’t know how I’m going to be able to use cloth pads for my 3rd confinement (btw not in agenda yet hehe)–do lemme know how you do it

    Kit: I think this is OK as I have to brush the boy’s teeth every morning. He insists that MUMMY washes his butt too, yelling at Grandma:

    “I ONLY call Mummy! I didn’t call Grandma!

    I think I’ll only use the cloth pads when the bleeding eases because it takes a bit of washing and soaking. With all the lampin in line, I don’t want to overburden or freak the Chinese CL out with bloody pads!

    5. no plain water (I had an awful stomachache when I took it the day after baby’s birth!), so I stick with red dates + longan + black dates tea–yummy!

    Kit: Yup, I LOVE the red date tea my Mum made previously too! I could drink the entire pot she boiled. NO complaints here 🙂

    My MIL would have been aghast if I do not follow everything by the book, being a conservative woman she is. In hindsight, it’s really not that bad being “guai” for 1 whole month in exchange for less aches in days to come. My confinement auntie told me that she used to have poor health when she was young (easy to get flu and the like), but after her confinement under the watchful eye of her MIL and eating lotsa kacama (she mentioned that!), she is in the pink of health ever since. And she REALLY doesn’t look her age–I’m SO impressed!

    Kit: Mmm…my MIL’s gonna cook me her yummylicious kacama when they come over to see the baby. Looking forward to it too coz she cooks a mean kacama. It was the first thing everyone aimed for at my boy’s birthday party last year 🙂

    Brendan is also at the caregiver’s until 5 pm daily (except Sundays), so MIL and hubby would be there to entertain him (watching DVDs, bringing him out for car rides), and when I’m up to it, reading and chit-chatting with him. Of course, the lil boy would at times insisted to be hugged and cuddled by mommy. Our initial arrangement is to have Brendan sleeping with MIL, but he ended up co-sleeping with me and baby after day 3 on another single bed. After all, he’s used to have mommy by his side.

    Kit: We’re definitely co-sleeping together and he’s already assigned the positions:

    “Baby cannot sleep with me – ah-purt me knock on the baby and make the baby cry! Baby sleep with Mummy HERE! Mummy sleep with me HERE! Papa sleep with the baby THERE!” LOL

    It’s easy to feel helpless at times when the newborn is so demanding and needing me to be a moo-moo, burper, lullaby singer, reader, “changer” and “cuddler” until I just feel like dozing off and not having to take care of the older child. Rope in as much help as you can get from your mom in caring for the two children. One man (woman for this matter) show can be very tiring, but cheer up, it’s just a phase you’ll outgrown. Our grandmothers survived through 8-9 children, so can we!

    Kit: Thanks for the encouragement 🙂 Will pace myself and see how it goes. If not, then everyone just sit down and cry lor hahaha

  • bet it must be very relief with all the valuable advices & experiences shared by others. i gained too….:D

    but i don’t really buy the idea of paying $$ to the confinement to buy food stuffs esp when she’s a stranger. $$ issue can be sensitive & create problems.

    even the chinese medical hall tauke once told me not to ask the CL to buy confinemt stuffs as it surely involves ‘tips’ in the middle of the transaction. i’m lucky to hv my mom take care of that task…whom would never trust others to handle $$, that’s my mom… haha

    but it all falls back on whether u have a choice to that or not….so i wish u good luck ya 😀

    Kit: My Mum said it’s OK to give her a daily amount. The CL kind of knows my Mum so she said she’ll tell her if she needs to get anything big from the Chinese medical halls etc. So far, the CL sounds ok from our chats…

  • HN Link

    I bet you have read my previous posts on how I survived from my confinement period without any help ~~~ Did all the laundry, cooking and not to forget taking care of my baby… the consequence that I am facing now is the ‘windy’ hands and legs 🙁 Really painful, especially when the weather turns cold. So follow whatever advices given, if not all, at least half of it! Good luck and enjoy your confinement my dear!

    Kit: Oh no…I can understand the ‘windy’ hands and legs. You really need to do something about it later when the kids are bigger ok? My friend’s husband in Shanghai found her a really good Chinese doctor who helped using acupuncture and medicinal herbs.

  • DaRLeNE^_^ Link

    I believe too that it’s better for your mom to follow the confinement lady to the market / medical hall to buy whatever is needed. My MIL does all the buying and shopping herself, that is, after she asked the confinement lady if there’s anything specific to be bought. Thus, there would be no issues about how the money is spent.

    Kit: Ya, they’ll be doing that.

  • go with gold. as in ..old folks.

    I didn’t get to do confinement for all three kids. While, I’m ok now.. I fear the future…


  • Immomsdaughter Link

    Here’s my 2cents:

    1. Instead of setting, why not ask her what time does she arrive and leave when she worked with her last employer? If the time is agreeable, then say “Ah yes, that’s what I would prefer too”. If not, then suggest your timing. That way, you don’t sound too bossy but put your message across clearly.

    As for cash, I would suggest giving her a weekly amount.

    Kit: Aiks…I didn’t think of this! As it’s the first time she’s doing daytime only, she said she’ll go home after she’s prepared dinner and the soup for me. Ya, I like the weekly amount too. Will see how it goes.

    2. Wohooo…kacangma. I can just eat that for a whole month. I took a lot of food cooked with ginger so, we bought a lot. I eat fish too, not sure whether that’s allowed if you followed strictly to the Chinese confinement.

    Kit: Hehehe, you missed my MIL’s one at his birthday party ler. It’s GOOD coz everyone aimed for that dish and it was the first to be empty! I’m gonna enjoy it as MIL will cook it for me when they visit 🙂

    The CL mentioned some fish and young papaya soup for breastfeeding? Guess I’ll be getting fish!

    3. Confinement clothes – got such thing ah? Ha ha ha….ok, I wore baggy shirts and track pants. That’s it.

    Kit: Hahaha, I call them that coz all the ladies in China wore them ma i.e. long pyjamas and socks.

    4. Bath – only threw in ginger to the boiled water during my 2nd confinement. 1st one, my mom boiled some of those herbs thingy but can’t remember what they were – 9 years agolah!

    Honestly speaking, I never had a full time CL. 1st one was my aunt who came to cook and bath the baby only. 2nd one, I fired after 10 days. Don’t know how she called herself CL. After that, I just do everything by myself 😛 Post partum is less than a month for both cases (can’t remember exactly how long though).

    Ok, gotta rush to work now. Hope these help.

    Kit: Thanks so much for sharing your experience and ideas 🙂

  • Malaika's mummy Link

    got CL clothes one meh??? I wore no sleeves shirt ad short pants wo 😉 and also turned on fan – hi speed.

    I washed my hair everyday and washed my hands often too.

    During the 1st confinement, I ate lots of confinement food. 2nd round, 1st day out of the hospital, I was eating dim sum in a rest. hahahhaa…. and also hardly take confinement food.

    So far so good lo, hehehe… worried about the side effect in the future.

    Kit: I was like that too in my first confinement but now, I’m determined to follow all the rules 🙂

  • Moe Link

    This might be quite late given the fact that you’ve already delivered, but anyway just to share with you my experience :

    I had an emergency C-section thanks to the “expertise” of the doctors here. But this was a blessing in diguise as I was not allowed to take anything that will make me gassy (i.e ginger esp) coz this will cause my stomoch to bloat and then the C-section stiches might just come loose! (Yahoo!!)

    My MIL is a traditional Chinese woman (2nd Gen from China) and she brought ginger juice for me the night I delivered which in the end only to be told off by the doctors. And then I was made to take pork leg stew which is so not to my taste and I was not allowed to kena any “wind” or even go out as they said that it will go inmy body and make me ache with pain later in life. BUT I was allowed to switch on the aircond! Now I am really scratching my head here coz aircond is much cooler than the normal breeze right?

    Then I am forced to bathe “boiling water”. Why I say boiling water is that it is so hot, and in Brunei, the weather is already super hot and combined with my post natal hormones, this made me even more uncomfortable overall!

    Now, coming from a mix parentage and Western upbringing, I was determined that I will have no such things like these and I politely told my MIL (which later she complained to my hubby) that I will continue to observe my normal hygiene and food intake as advised by my gynae (my hubby was present when she advised us – I made sure of that ;p) and I will take whatever my MIL cooks for me in moderation.

    Of course she (MIL) did not liek it but I did get my way in the end. I actually washed my hair the minute I coudl get up from the bed, coz I just could not stand being all sticky and yucky from all that screaming and sweating during labour/C-section.

    I continued to eat normal with lots of water to keep me hydrated and to be able to have enough milk for my little one and I took my Blackmores Multi Vitamin for Berastfeeding and Pregnancy.

    I also made sure that I took what was nescessary (i.e dong quai ..) and my lochia was only for 1 week and it came like normal blood. I was able to use my tampon instead of the normal pads.

    My mom then came down after 12 days to take over and she cooked my normal food only that I had special dishes to eat in addition to my main meal. I enjoyed curries, ice creams, rojak, laksa, and even walks in the garden. By the 3rd week I was back doing my housework (mopping, vacumming etc) and during that period, neither myd aughter and I had any problems.

    My daughter is now 18 months and since then she has rarely gotten sick or had any problems…so did I.

    I do understand that the Chinese confinement methods has its track record but that was observed strictly in China where the country is cold and clean hot water is hard to come by. In our hot, humid climate, I do not see why we must observe that same regime, unless Msia or SEA started snowing!

    Giving birth is suppose to make mom and baby relaxed and not stressed out or feel uncomfortable. On top of that, good hygiene must be observed at all times in conjunction with a balanced meal to help wounds heal faster.

    That is my(my mom, my grandma too) belief and after observing this for 3 generations, I can proudly say that my handson housewife mom and 80+yo grandma is much stronger in health and physically than my MIL (who has a maid and observed strict confinement regime)

  • Moe – Interesting! In my case, I find that observing the traditional Chinese diet and resting (lying down, not sitting) recommended for the Chinese confinement period is beneficial for a healthy body.