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Confinement is a common traditional practice that lasts for generations, and it is called “puerperium” in medical term. It generally takes 4-6 weeks from the time after your delivery to the period of time where the recovery of your body function and organs taking place.

Why mothers need to be in confinement after delivery?

During pregnancy, a mother bears the burden to provide nutrition for her growing fetus, and it cause tremendous changes in the various systems and organs inside her body, for example, her womb, blood vessels, digestive system, skin, joints and ligament, etc, and her body will grow weak after childbirth. Hence, mothers should go through confinement period to allow the body to recover and be restored to the pre-delivery state, e.g., healing of the wound in vagina, contraction of the uterus, restoration of the heart, and the recovery to the skin’s firmness, etc.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is important to have the mothers after delivery to rest during these 4-6 weeks as a golden opportunity to recuperate, to regain physical strength as well as strengthen the body. If they were to miss this golden period, they might expose their health to risks in the future, for example, suffering from back pains, joint pains, and deterioration in their physical health, etc. 

In relation to the issue of confinement, mothers after deliveries tend to hear different opinions and advice given from all quarters, and these include statements like: can’t touch water, can’t wash your hair, can’t shower, etc., or you might suffer sicknesses later on!

Is it true and good to practice whatever rules that have been passed down by the older generation in this modern age?

In fact, this saying came about because the living condition in the old days was bad, and there is no proper control over the water and in-house temperature. Worse still, they get their waters from wells, rivers, etc. If mothers after deliveries used these “uncleaned” water to wash their wound directly or to take bath with them, it could easily lead to wound infection, and they would get cold easily due to the lack of warming facilities. Furthermore, there weren’t heater or hairdryer back then, and to those mothers after deliveries who were still weak physically, it wasn’t appropriate for them to take bath or to wash their hair. Therefore, that is where the statement of “no shower and no washing hair during your confinement” came about.

In this convenient age of living, we have full supply of medical resources, and every family has their own heater, boiling cattle and hairdryer, it will not be an issue for the taboo of shower or washing hair for them. As long as they are able to move around, they can shower and cleanse their bodies with the boiled water. Only that they must dry their body and hair immediately after shower and put on warming clothes to prevent cold. However, don’t take long shower but control within 10-20 minutes. Don’t ever soak yourselves in the bathtub, as it will increase your risk of wound infection! 

Whether it is a custom or a new scientific concept, the major purpose is to safeguard the health of mothers after their deliveries. With the improvement of the condition of modern day’s living, the belief of “no hair wash, no shower during confinement” maybe has become unnecessary. Instead, we should encourage the mothers to keep good hygiene to avoid any infection.