I’ve decided to go through with Chinese “confinement”.
The traditional Chinese believe that when a woman gives birth to a baby, her body is “cold” – in the sense that there is a lack of energy and warmth.
To make up for that imbalance, she is expected to observe a month of confinement where she has to change her lifestyle and diet to bring back her “warmth”.
She must stay at home and stay warm. She must avoid cold temperatures, cold water, cold wind and cold foods. She must restrain from washing her hands, take occasional warm baths and only eat certain “warming” foods.
Stricter rules include, no drinking water (only boiled red date water) and absolutely no washing your hair for 30 days.
My mother was the one who encouraged [convinced] me to try it out. I said, “Ok, but only if you come over every day and bring me food.”
So she has stuck to her word. She has been here every single morning with “warming food” – chicken in brandy sauce, chicken with sesame and ginger, pig trotters in vinegar, boiled red dates, ginger this, ginger that. Delicious.
I actually think this is a big step for me.
It’s not like me to do something that sounds dodgy. The whole idea of being cooped up in the house sounds very unhealthy. Physically and emotionally, in terms of getting my life back to normal, settling into a new routine and discovering a new life with the baby. But I want to try to do it.
Long walks by the river with baby in the new pram. Joining new mother’s groups. Going to post-pregnancy aerobics classes. That’ll all have to wait.
I guess I have this strange desire to connect with the people in my Chinese community.
They’ve all went through with it. My mother. My grandmother. All my aunties. They have no idea WHY they did it. Or WHAT it all means.
It’s just a tradition. And I guess sometimes… that’s a pretty good reason.