Congratulations on bringing your little one into the world! It’s now time to take a well-deserved break.

Confinement is a period for your body to recuperate and recover from childbirth. In the past when infant and maternal mortality rates were high, confinement kept baby and mummy indoors, protecting them from ill health.

Here are some common Indian confinement practices.

Confinement period: 40 days

Related: Baby's Here: What to Expect Now

Diet Practices

Aim: To purge "wind" from the body after delivery, promote "blood circulation", strengthen the joints, and promote milk supply. New mums are encouraged to avoid "cooling" foods.

Indian mothers may take garlic milk to prevent "wind". Like the Chinese and Malays, "cooling" foods are avoided, especially tomatoes, cucumbers, coconut milk and mutton.

These foods are allowed and encouraged:

  • chicken and shark fish cooked in herbs
  • plenty of garlic fried without oil
  • oral intake of herbs or D.O.M. to keep the body warm

Cooking is done with gingly oil.

These foods are not allowed:

  • seafood
  • chilli

There is restriction on fluids, fruits, and vegetable, as well as cold drinks and food.

Related: Top 4 Myths About the Confinement Period

Daily Practices

Aim: Protect the new mother from future ill health, restore her strength, and to protect the family from "ritual pollution".

Indian mothers are discouraged from leaving their homes during confinement.

Bathing is also discouraged and if done, should be performed with special herbal preparations and turmeric powder. Bathing is only allowed between 11am and 2pm when the temperature is at its highest.

New mums are encouraged to splash warm water on their abdomen while bathing to expel clots from uterus.

Daily body massages with oil are also encouraged.

Other practices:

  • No entry to the prayer altar room.
  • Mums only wash their hair on odd days i.e. day 3,5,7... during the first two weeks, and should dry their hair after washing with incense smoke.
  • Some also use incense smoke between their legs to dry the episiotomy wound.
  • Some bind their tummy with six-feet-cloth.
  • Sex is strictly prohibited.

By now you’ve heard many "old wives’ tales" about confinement, and you may or may not agree with them all. In fact, some of them don’t have any scientific basis at all!

Next, let’s check out — and bust — some common confinement myths. Read Common Confinement Myths to learn more.

Read about confinement practices from other cultures:

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Source: Dr TAN Thiam Chye, Dr TAN Kim Teng, Dr TAN Heng Hao, Dr TEE Chee Seng John, The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth, World Scientific 2008.