CHINESE CONFINEMENT STORIES
We are sharing our stories of our own confinements as a family. Between the 3 Tong sisters, we have 7 children. That’s a lot of confining and processing of ginger! Each confinement story is unique because of location (some in Canada and some in Hong Kong) and how each of us are different in our situations, preferences, and state of health (and mind). Join us as we venture through these with each of our babies! Keep in mind that these stories are based on our personal experiences and opinions and not to be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, please do consult your doctor.
What makes confinement so important in Chinese tradition?
It’s one of those things that you only hear about if you’re paying attention. A friend is having a baby. You’re having a baby. Someone’s handing out vinegared ginger pig’s feet and there’s a bucket in the pantry (have seen this in Hong Kong), or you’re invited to a baby’s “moon” celebration.
The one most important outcome of confinement is to allow the women’s body to fully heal in a balanced way from a energy perspective (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine). This includes removal of internal wind, promotion of blood circulation, and supporting milk production. After my 2nd child (Lisa), my Chinese doctor keeps asking if I’ll have a 3rd to have an opportunity to fix all the things wrong with me. That’s how important confinement is. Wow.
You can check out this introduction to TCM and how you can apply this knowledge to soups and teas as a start.
What’s part of confinement?
Honestly, just like all traditions (and sub-traditions), confinement will mean different things to different people. However, there are a few things that most can agree on are part of a confinement plan:
- Menu planning (including soups) – and paying attention to what’s warming and cooling
- Chinese Herbs
- Mother wellness & recovery
- Internal wind management (qi)
- Duration of confinement (min. one month)
There are also a range of traditions that are passed down generation to generation. For example, you’re not supposed to wash your hair. We suspect, back in the days, it was because washing your hair would then render your head cold, thus allowing wind to enter. But these days, we have hairdryers and dry shampoo. These traditions are an amazing concept to explore. More on this later!
How to get started
We started looking at confinement options as soon as we found our we were pregnant (or at least, our parents did!).
So what options are available?
There exists fully outsourced confinement to self managed confinement and everything in between!
Consider these few factors as you’re thinking:
- How much knowledge is there (or will there be) within the current caregivers and system?
- Which parts of confinement are meaningful for you?
- Which parts are you WILLING to outsource?
- What are the budget considerations?
- What do you know? What do you not know and need to find out about YOUR confinement?
- How will you measure success of YOUR confinement?
Create YOUR confinement plan!
Give yourself plenty of time to THINK and PLAN.
Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with.
Be intentional to think and communicate WHAT you want and HOW you want it. It’s your confinement, after all.
A selection of confinement Chinese Soups
What is confinement and confinement stories
Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story
Some confinement foods for your tummy!
The DO's and DON'T's of confinement