What is Confinement During Pregnancy? A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Practices

Pregnancy is a special time for many women, and it's important to take care of yourself during this period. One of the most important practices for pregnant women is confinement, which is the practice of limiting your movements before and after birth to reduce the risk of complications. After childbirth, the first 40 days are commonly called the labor period for a woman. During this period, you are encouraged to refrain from any strenuous activity and to take your time to rest as much as possible. The belief behind confinement is that the mother has been “cooled by childbirth, and it is necessary to eat” hot foods such as meat.

Many “confinement foods” have been devised to ensure that these nutritional demands and beliefs are met.

A traditional Chinese food practice of confinement

includes fish soups, which are believed to increase low milk production and improve the quality of breast milk. Among modern families, the current practice is to hire a confinement nanny or choose a confinement meal delivery service. The custom of confinement advises new mothers to choose foods rich in energy and protein to restore energy levels, help reduce the size of the uterus and make the perineum heal. Yin, or cold, foods are avoided and specific confinement foods based on traditional Chinese medicine are eaten. These foods are typically high in protein and energy, such as fish soup, red dates, ginger tea, and chicken soup.

These dishes are believed to help with milk production, reduce postpartum bleeding, and help with healing after childbirth. Additionally, some herbs may be added to these dishes for additional health benefits. It's important for pregnant women to understand the importance of confinement and how it can help them during their pregnancy. By following traditional Chinese food practices during confinement, pregnant women can ensure that they get all the nutrients they need while also reducing their risk of complications.

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