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The Truth Behind Confinement Diet Myths

Our TCM physician shares some wisdom on confinement foods

Right after delivery, mothers usually feel tired as giving birth drains the energy and blood, known as qi and blood deficiency in TCM, which may weaken the body. Therefore postpartum – the moment right after delivery and the subsequent four to six weeks – is the most crucial period for mothers to recover, and it is often known as the confinement period. Many mothers will follow certain practices and diets during confinement to restore balance to her health. We take on the top three confinement diet myths:

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CONFINEMENT DIET MYTH 1: TONIC WINE IS ENCOURAGED DURING CONFINEMENT

True: Consuming tonic wine during confinement can help expel the cold from the body and promote blood circulation. You’re encouraged to add some tonic wine into food or soup preparation as this would help boost your strength and energy during this period. Confinement food with alcohol should be well-cooked or the soup should be boiled before consumption for evaporation of the alcohol. Nursing mothers should avoid drinking alcohol on its own as it can get into the breast milk and be consumed by the baby. It’s best if tonic wine is consumed between 2-4 hours before breastfeeding to reduce the amount of alcohol entering the breast milk.

CONFINEMENT DIET MYTH 2: DO NOT DRINK PLAIN WATER

False: There is no harm in drinking plain water. Most women in confinement perspire heavily due to hormonal changes, therefore they should be encouraged to drink more water to stay hydrated. New mothers are encouraged to drink warm water is instead of cold water, as it would help circulation.

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CONFINEMENT DIET MYTH 3: HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS ARE ENCOURAGED DURING CONFINEMENT

True: Women lose substantial amounts of blood during childbirth, which sets them up for deficiency of qi. It’s essential to have the body replenished and nourished during the postpartum period. Adequate amounts of herbs and supplements help with postnatal recovery and boost energy and vitality. TCM physicians usually recommend herbs for qi and blood tonification. As every woman’s constitution defers, it’s best if the herbs and supplements are taken after consultation with a qualified TCM physician who would give personalised advice and medication. Coupling these with “warm” foods and avoiding “cooling” foods such as bamboo shoots, shellfish, kangkong and cucumbers as well as fruits like watermelon, oranges, pears and bananas would help in the recovery of qi during the confinement period.

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