Most people think of confinement (a period of 30 days of recuperating after childbirth) as a rather smelly and icky ordeal where the new mother is not allowed to shower at will, drink plain water, or venture outdoors. At least that’s how one usually does confinement here in Singapore.
My recent one was my third time so in many ways I knew what to expect.
During the first few days in the hospital, I didn’t shower or wash my hair. But I kept my hair clean with a dry shampoo and wiped my body down with a microfiber cloth and warm water.
When I got home, I restricted myself to showering every other day using water boiled with a Chinese herb that helps to remove wind. Thankfully the weather was cool so I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, even on no-shower days.
In place of water, I drank red date tea, made by boiling red and black dates, dried longans and other herbs in water. This drink has a sweetish taste and the red dates are meant to replenish blood and aid overall recovery, so this is the easiest practice to follow, IMHO. When my red date tea ran out (usually by night-time), I would make a fresh brew of fennel tea, to help with milk supply.
Traditional confinement diet usually encompasses cooking with loads and loads of ginger, sesame oil, and various other Chinese herbs for specific benefits to the postpartum body.
For the first one to two weeks, I ate simple steamed or boiled dishes like steamed fish, fish papaya soup (great for boosting breast-milk) and chicken stir-fried with ginger and black fungus.
Subsequently I had tonic soups too, such as black chicken soup double-boiled with Dom Benedictine.
I avoided cold drinks, vegetables, fruit and bread as the Chinese believe that these lead to more ‘wind’ in the body, which is generally not beneficial as it affects our joints and digestive system.
How did I cook all these nutritious meals? Well, it’s common for new mums to hire a confinement nanny (who stays over at your house) to cook and clean and care for baby during the first month. But as we recently hired a domestic helper, I just provided her with recipes and a rough meal plan so that she knew what to prepare each day.
Joshua, our latest arrival, was sleepy throughout the entire first month which worked out well for me as I could catch up on sleep during the day-time. So I would say my biggest challenge was adjusting to a new routine, which at one month after birth is non-existent.
The other major challenge was coping with the older kids. As I was busy either breastfeeding, caring for myself, or resting, I barely had energy left over for Vera (5 year old) and Javier (3 year old). It helped that the hubby took them out to play on the weekends, and on weekdays when he got home early, but it didn’t alleviate my guilt. As far as I could, I tried to involve my older kids when I was busy with the baby. Obviously they can’t change diapers, but they were pretty good at fetching things and helping to put soiled clothing into the laundry basket. The big sister was especially helpful in distracting him when he was cranky or crying. She also helped to rock the rocker when he needed a nap, and pop his pacifier back whenever it dropped. Sometimes when baby isn’t due to sleep, I’d read them a book while breastfeeding. And on good days when everything fell into place, I tried to do simple activities that they enjoyed, such as painting, art and craft, and bringing them to play with their skate scooters at the nearby park.
For self-care, I followed the age old advice – sleep when baby sleeps. I kept visitors to a minimum so I could focus on caring for baby and getting sufficient rest.
Before I knew it, the month was up. We had a lovely celebration for Joshua’s one-month birthday, which over here is a pretty big thing. And everyone congratulated us for surviving life with three. But as you know, the journey has only just begun…
How did you rest and recuperate after childbirth? What traditional practices do you follow?
Photo credit to the author.
I’ve made many mistakes as a parent.
I’ve yelled, spanked out of anger, accused and spoken hurtful words out of frustration.
Only to realise that there’s no way to undo the deed…well, except to say “I’m sorry” to my children.
We had a recent episode where I came home from work to find out that Vera had in a moment of fury, grabbed a cane and hit her god-grandmother. I, in a moment of outrage, swiftly used the same method of punishment on her.
I was shocked to hear of her actions, as we’ve never heard of her using force or violence on anyone in our home.
That evening, I cried. Because I felt like I had failed as a mother.
I wondered if it was because of my own disciplinary actions on her, that had taught her the example of using the cane to lash out when she was angry.
After we were calm, I sat her down and taught her some ways of expressing anger, ways that are more socially acceptable such as shouting into a pillow or hugging her favourite soft toy.
I also apologised for having been so angry, and for spanking her when I was at the peak of that anger.
After discussing with my husband in private, I realised that I’d made the mistake of not allowing her to give her side of the story, not seeking to understand what was in her heart and mind when she made that grave mistake, before disciplining her, not giving her any benefit of doubt. In my fit, it did not dawn on me that I wasn’t there to witness the incident, and therefore cannot be fully aware of the circumstances that had provoked her to such behaviour. (more…)
According to international pollster Gallup, based on a poll of nearly 150,000 people worldwide conducted in 2011, Singapore came out tops on the list of countries that are least happy.
To be honest, I was surprised and yet not. Singapore is a pretty well-to-do country, well-organised and well-governed, in most senses of the word.
Yet, we’ve all been labelled as “unhappy people.”
A little video went out to the streets of Singapore to ask people “What makes YOU happy?” Here are some popular answers:
- My wife / husband.
- When the kids are happy.
- Time. To rest. Exercise. Do the things we love. Spend time with the people we love.
(Things that people living on the other end of the globe could probably be saying too huh?)
It struck me to realise that the things that make us happy are pretty universal, shared across nationalities, ethnicities, gender, and socio-economic status. They relate to every human being’s most intrinsic needs – We all want to be loved, want to feel safe, be understood, and valued by others, especially our loved ones. Don’t we?
I think thankfulness is one of the major keys to happiness.
But when we start comparing with the Joneses, or seeing and desiring the things that we don’t have, it can start to feel pretty ugly inside.
Also, a simple act of kindness and helping others. Somehow never fails to make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Ultimately, happiness lies in our own little hands. We can all take steps towards happiness today. By appreciating ourselves and our spouses, counting our blessings, cherishing time with family (despite our individual weaknesses and quirks), and enjoying our children.
Seeing my little ones jump and tear down the pathway towards the playground makes me happy.
Receiving a hug and a kind loving word from my husband at the end of the day makes me happy.
Making time to dig into a good book, or going for a walk and counting bees and flowers make me happy.
We may all have our struggles, our fears, our worries, but by breathing out life’s stressful moments, and breathing in such moments of inexpressible joy and delight (and letting them linger in my heart) keeps me grounded, and helps me navigate this journey we’re all on – parenthood.
Joy is a way of life. An intentional choice.
When our kids see us making that choice, I’m sure they are likely to make similar choices in future. Positive. With a bright outlook on life. Resilient. People who try to make the best out of the lemons that life may bring.
What do you think? And what makes you happy?
If you have 4.5 minutes, do watch this video to see what other Singaporeans are saying:
This is an original post by June Yong of Singapore, for World Moms Blog. June blogs about motherhood and other joys, over at Mama Wear Papa Shirt.
Photo credited to http://quotez.co/there-is-always-something-to-be-thankful-for-happiness-quotes/
2013 is still fresh out of the oven, and I’m already starting to feel like I’m dragging my feet.
I don’t know about you but I wish things could slow down a little, and that I could breathe out some stress and breathe in more joy…
As a mum, there are many things I want to do.
I wanna play with my kids, and teach them useful things, things that mold their character and resilience.
I want time to work on my dreams, to grow and develop my skills, to read more books and learn from great writers.
I wanna be a perfect wife running a clock-work household.
I wanna have time to sit and sip away, journalling in a cafe, and feel free to be myself again.
I read this recently from the Storyline blog.
Don’t let urgency keep you from your spouse, your kids, creation or the God who made them all. You may find, like me, you get more done when your soul is fed first.
– Donald Miller
Life has been busier than normal for us. I’ve slumped into survival mode: I place as priority all things “urgent,” and everything else falls into second place. In other words: Anything that doesn’t threaten to blow up in my face if I don’t resolve it now, well…takes second place.
Things that are labelled “urgent” have this ability to force themselves upon you, and make you wriggle from the priorities that you have set for your life. To me, there are only a few things in life that are truly urgent. Family and children comprise the foremost of these. (It is pretty obvious, right? I am a mummy blogger, after all.)
Why would family be urgent? There are no deadlines to meet, no clock is ticking (except your biological one, and even then that’s only if you’re planning to have more kids).
Family is urgent, because in this day and age, many other things have usurped its position in society. Wealth, career, fame, beauty, you name it. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these are necessarily bad in themselves, but when they take first place in our hearts, then well, something’s gotta give.) (more…)