Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Recovery After Pregnancy: the Chinese way = Confinement

For westerners, life after giving birth means immediately getting busy with baby stuff. It means getting up everyday to feed the baby, do household chores, and go about their daily lives. For Chinese people in many parts of the world -- whether they come from Manila or Malaysia, they believe in the recovery period needed for every mom... and that means 1 month of "confinement".

To my western friends, this concept is very foreign and they are very much surprised when I share some of the steps involved in confinement. I guess in other parts of the world, this confinement thing is unheard of, or even simply impossible to do. Imagine Europeans who could not afford household help -- how can they even have 1 month of confinement if they are alone at home? They have to get up the next day, feed the baby, do the household chores, cook for themselves, etc. What makes me wonder is that despite these westerners not doing their proper confinement after childbirth, well, they still survive and live a long & healthy life. I'm saying this because most of the stories I hear from elders is that if one does not do a proper confinement, one will get different aches or ailments at his/her old age. I don't know if there are proper statistics nor research findings to show that women who had confinement are really better off than those who didn't. Or simply, western women will have more ailments/aches vs women from the east?

Back to confinement, though I am not armed with proof, I do not want to turn my back from my culture. And at some point I am thinking "better safe than sorry"... which is probably what a lot of younger generation Chinese women are thinking when they go through confinement in this modern day.

Be in Philippines or Malaysia, the Chinese people living there believe in this very important 1 month of recovery for new mothers. Though to compare, the Malaysians seem to have stricter guidelines & a longer list of what to do, eat, etc. Maybe the Chinese in the Philippines have somewhat adopted to the local culture which meant dropping some of the early practices of confinement. It was only living here in Kuala Lumpur did I discover that there is such a thing as "Confinement lady". This is usually an elderly who comes to stay at your house to take care of the mom (full time) & cook all the nutritious food to help speed up recovery. Imagine, it's a full time job over here! And the good ones seem to be in demand -- they even require you to book in advance.

What's amazing to me is the instant access to these confinement stuff : confinement lady, confinement herbs, etc. Last weekend, hubby and I went to 1 Utama shopping mall. We visited this huge Chinese herb shop which is located at the basement floor. They had gazillions of herb and other stuff, which even to me was shocking. We didn't have such a thing back in Manila. Most of the Chinese herb shops were small stalls operating at Chinatown. Not something this huge at a shopping mall! Hubby and I were amazed at what we saw: they were selling deer horns and deer tails... and dried sea horses! There were so many weird stuff around and they cost a lot of money! Yikes...

They had a ready brochure of Chinese confinement herbs. It was a back-to-back brochure which had English and Chinese versions. This is a very easy guide to what you should be eating and drinking in the 30 days of your confinement. I know, it sounds like they have commercialized it. But for someone like me, a 3rd generation Chinese who have lost the ability to read Chinese characters and have no easy access to elderlies, at least I have this brochure as a guide. Thankfully they also had a salesman who was speaking some English. He attended to our needs and my questions. In the end, hubby and I walked away spending RM800+ on all the Chinese stuff. I only get pregnant a few times in my life, I better try to recover the best way I know which is the Chinese way. It's going to be tough, but might as well do it than be sorry. Mind you, I don't plan to follow everything strictly. I think I will mix up the 2 Chinese traditions from Manila and KL... and will try to stick by what I can. After all, the westerners are doing fine despite not knowing confinement stuff at all!

In case you want to read more about confinement stories, you can refer to these links:

In case anyone else out there is as clueless as me in terms of chinese herbs, and yet would like to buy some and try to do your own confinement at home, you can visit the shop and they have a ready brochure and easy to understand list. All you need to do is buy the set and add it to the soup... and eat your way to a good recovery after your baby delivery.

Lower Ground floor, One Utama
Tel 03-77271681

The post-natal soup herbs are packed into 28 different sets. This means you will use 1 pack a day to add to some pork or chicken soup (which you need to use double boil or slow cook method). The total for the 28 herb-pack is RM350.00

Good luck!


  1. I hit your blog when I was searching for yoga information.
    I live Mont'Kiara ,too.and I just came from Japan four months ago. So your informations are very useful to me. Thanks!!

  2. Hello there! I am glad the information are useful. It seems there are many Japanese nationals around our Mont Kiara area. I did meet one of my neighbors and she is also Japanese. I told her about this park called Bukit Kiara and after she went with her family they loved it! In case you have kids you may want to look for that park too. I think I did write a blog about it. Anyway welcome to Malaysia and I am sure you will enjoy our stay! So far I am going on my 3rd year here in Malaysia and we are very happy! As for yoga, you may want to check out the yoga classes at Plaza Damas which is very near our Mont Kiara area. They changed the name (it's not Yogazone anymore) but the still kept some of the teachers -- which were very good yoga teachers. I plan to go back there after I deliver my baby.

  3. Hi,
    I got a lot of informations , thak you,again!!

    I have one daughter who is 10 years old,so we will visit Bukit Kiara!!
    Japanese are very picky for bread,too. I tried "Hiestand Bakery" ,too. That bakery shop is really tasty and not so expensive. Do you know Japanese bakery shop in Pavilion " The loaf"? That's also very nice bakery,but the price is too expensive...
    Is your due date coming soon?
    I wish your safe delivery !!

  4. I'm due to deliver this November and will have a little girl soon :) very excited about it.
    The past week I have been craving for bread, bread and bread. So in case you are bread lover, then you should check out the following:

    1. The Bakery - at Sri Hartamas (short drive from Mont Kiara). Their croissants are the closest thing to the french croissants we had in france

    2. The Bread Shop - Damansara heights -- i love their pastries.. superb! So many many different variety and I only discovered it last week!

    I agree with you on "The Loaf". I went there couple times and found the bread good but pricey. Though in terms of fancy bread, i will surely vote for THE BREAD SHOP at Damansara Heights. I think you will like it. I saw some Japanese family having breakfast there last week :)

    Thanks for dropping by my blog!!!


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