Chinese Confinement

Chinese people have a tradition called “confinement”.

It is based on the belief that when a woman has given birth, her body is “cold, weak, and empty”. In order to bring herself back to health, she must observe a month of certain lifestyle and dietary changes. If done correctly, a woman can be in better health than before she gave birth. If done incorrectly, a woman may suffer poor health for the rest of her life.

Some of the changes are:

The woman cannot eat spicy, fried, or grilled food. She cannot drink cold water. She should not have any fruits, except seedless grapes, papaya, or raisins.

The woman must stay indoors. She should not go out and expose herself to cold temperatures or cold wind. She must rest as much as possible. She should cover herself from head to toe.

The woman should not touch cold water, do housework, wash hair, or shower.

While I appreciate the significance of traditional beliefs – I am not following many of these practices. Stay indoors for a month? I have baby appointments. Not shower for a month? That's just not possible for sanitary reasons. As for housework, I may overlook a little bit of dust, but I hate clutters and, with a newborn, clutters build up fast that I have no choice but do light housework.

However, I am happy to observe confinement food. There’s a whole list of weird and wonderful Chinese foods that are said to nourish the woman’s body and increase the supply of breast milk.

My mom and hubs' mom made delicious dishes with chicken, sesame oil, rice wine, and ginger. LOTS and LOTS of ginger! Also to increase my milk supply, I have been eating pig feet & peanut soup. Yes, you heard me right. It's amazing what a mother would do for her child. But truthfully, the soup is growing on me.

I think I will miss the food aspect of "confinement" the most.

In all seriousness, I wonder if there are truths to "confinement". Am I going to suffer health problems when I am older just because I am taking showers and washing hair during this time?


  1. Who knows, I'm sure there is probably an ounce of truth buried in there somewhere. But life is short, we just had a beautiful baby, lets have chocolate, pizza, steak and fried chicken baby! Oh, and a carton of cookie dough ice cream too please...

  2. Traditions often have their roots in slender "truths" but they are traditions and do not change to keep up with the times.

    For instance Jewish dietary laws (the Kosher bit) was primary a good idea healthwise a couple thousand years ago and long before the modern refrigeration and cooking methods came along which left them out-dated and out-moded.


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