Wednesday, 11 March 2009

An Inconvenient Luxury*

As inconvenient as the confinement month is (supposedly 40 days), I am seeing how it was really meant to be a time of luxury and pampering, in the name of taboo, for the womenfolk.

I am sure the womenfolk of the ancient times were the ones who came up with this for themselves, and made sure the men put up with all the inconveniences for 40 days while they recover after giving birth.

No Bathing except for Herbal Baths
- In the olden days, with no running water, at best, a well in your backyard, women still have to draw and carry water for the household's use. To spare the one who had just given birth, she was made to be excused from such hard work. Instead, she is given the luxury of a spa treatment - a herbal bath of ginger and herbs, supposedly to get rid of wind and help keep her warm. Very good if she had had her baby in the cold/cool seasons.

Do Not Touch Cold Water or You may Catch A Chill
- "No need to fetch water from the well. No need to prepare any meals. No need to wash up after your meal. No need to bathe yourself. No need to water the plants or animals. Just enjoy yourself and be pampered. Relax." I am sure that was the whole idea behind this taboo.

Stay within the confines of your Room
-It is believed that if you catch a draft while recovering from labor, you would suffer for a long time, if not then in your old age with rheumatism, back ache or migraine. Well, I think it just gives the mother some time for herself to rest and not be bothered about the everyday chores. Instead, she is given the time and space to bond with her baby and have a good holiday in the comfort and privacy of her own room.

Lie On Your Back as Much as Possible
Oh, I suppose it is just good to be off your feet. But one is asked to lie down so that you do not suffer from severe backache in days to come. How often would a woman who has to run the household gets to sleep in anyway? Now is the time and you are given the privilege.

Eat While the Food is Hot

- In ancient times, most likely the men who labor in the fields or trades would be the first to sit at the dining table. This is a good time for a woman to enjoy food hot from the pot.

Certain Diet Prescribed
- Kidney, stomach, pigs' trotters in vinegar, chicken in rice wine and lots and lots of ginger and sesame oil. These are sure rich food, and food for the rich. It definitely is a luxury in days when there were no national nor international trades and definitely no supermarkets. Items as these on menus were scarce. I am sure they were costly too.

Pigs' trotters and ginger in black vinegar stew

Having thought of all the above, my mother told me a story of a lady in her old fishing village who had a baby every year. She had in total about 9 children. My mother knew this woman while she was a young girl, and later on was told by this lady, that she wanted her one month of good food and pampering every year. That was her motive of childbearing.
What do you think of that?

* Of course the whole idea of luxury and pampering for us now is so different because we live in a time of modern facilities and the utilities like plumbing, electricity and running water is a norm. We can't imagine a life of luxury and convenience and pampering without any of these three essentials of modern, clean and healthy living.


Ann said...

Glad to know you are BACK in the confines of home!

Happy confinement-ing

TripleJin said...

ahah...for the first born, one hated to be in confinement.

now it being the third child..every excuse will be milked to enjoy the confinement!!!

I like your explanations very much!!!! ;)

TripleJin said...

Oh..and I sure love eating "chee keok choe"...yum yum yum...

little prince's mummy said...

Confinement is a long month for me... Hope u able to cope with it...

mumsgather said...

Don't read becos you are to rest your eyes... but that does not apply to blogs lah. Hehehe.

hissychick said...

Pigs trotters and kidney aside (ewww), confinement sounds like sheer bliss.

Over here it seems to be a point of pride to be out and about as early as possible. Go the rest, a far better option!

Tina said...

i thought the pigs trotters looked nice till i read what they were lol

JLow said...

You know, I do like the pig trotters in black vinegar myself!

It was my mother in law who had to constantly stop me from consuming too much, saying that it's "heaty, especially for a man...."


Moomykin said...






I too did not like the confinement period when I had my first. But I did enjoy my mum visiting me quite often then. She would come and go by taxi!!

Now things are not as strict. especially I still have to attend to my two boys. Also, MiL is not so strict about taboos. Not as strict as my mom anyway. And we have no help, so we are basically running on herbal baths and good food.

Moomykin said...

Little prince's mummy,

Yes, the first time round for me sometimes it gets pretty lonely.

Now with two boys I am pretty busy. And sometimes i feel bad I cannot attend to them because I'm just nursing the newborn and cannot do anything else.

Moomykin said...


Hahaha... I was not told "don't read", but rather "don't cry" because it's bad for your eyes.

But in all my confinements I have cried.

First one: I missed my dad during Father's day. Wish he was here to see his grandchild.

Second: Err..Can't remember... maybe I didn't cry...

This one: Cried at the hospital cos I desperately wanted to go home, but the doctor was keeping me for further observations. Hubby bailed me out anyway.

Moomykin said...


Asian cultures are just pretty different. s far as I know, all the different ethnic groups in our country practices this confinement period with different kinds of diet and "spa" treatment.



Yes, not a lot of people can stomach the whole idea of eating pigs' trotters. I think it's an acquired taste anyway. My husband does not like it because it's a little sour due to the vinegar. But most women and some men love it.

Moomykin said...


Hahaha.. you comment made me laugh.

Yes, you are one of the "some men" who loves the pigs' trotters in vinegar. Gadget-daddy cannot take anything sour, so he never touches this... except when there are hard-boiled eggs in them, he'll just take the eggs.

Moomykin said...
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