This is my third time doing my confinement and while each of my experience is unique of its own, there remains one similar thing. I never had a confinement lady to help me out during the month of post-natal recovery. This time round, being away in London, it means it would be more difficult and much costlier to hire confinement help. In the same note, purchasing these confinement herbs in London is not as easy.
I did ask around fellow Asian mothers, based in London on how did they go about doing their confinement month. Some of the more fortunate mothers would be able to get their parents/in-laws to purchase confinement herbs from our home countries and some with do without as there was little contact of shops selling such confinement herbs in London. Even if we do get the herbs, there would be the worry that we would not know how to prepare them. Hence, I know I had to do my research early to prepare for my confinement care. After months of researching and comparison, I found Mummamia, which is a perfect match for my needs.
I think there are some questions that I would like to answer before sharing about my experience with Mummamia.
What is 坐月子?
It is a Chinese custom, which literally decrees that new mothers must spend one month in bed. This practice is more about regulating a new mother’s diet and activities to ensure that she fully recuperates and avoids future health issues. Anyone who is into Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) is most concerned about balancing yin and yang in the body. So, the confinement month is the best period for mothers to balance out their yin and yang to ensure that they stay strong and healthy.
Why have I never hired confinement ladies for my confinements in Singapore?
Maybe I should start off sharing my first two confinement experiences. I have never hired confinement help because they are just pricey for me. 2800 SGD to just get someone to cook/clean(excluding food and the Chinese tonics expenses) for a month is not something I can rationalise paying for. (I would think that E is a very lucky man since I am such a thrifty wife!)
It does not help that I often read about horror reviews of such confinement ladies(CLs). The possibility of living with someone who maybe disagreeable and unpleasant immediately after birth does not seem like an attractive idea to me. If you know me, I am not exactly the easiest person. I think I can be quite picky on the food that I eat and how hygiene is practiced. Thankfully, I had the help my mother as well as a domestic helper in Singapore for my confinement month. Yes, so I did managed to ‘confinement month’ without hiring a confinement lady. Of course, there are also good reviews of some CLs(and there are many who swear by the usefulness of their confinement ladies) but I am someone who rarely take chances, especially with such a price.
As a modern Chinese mother, why do I subscribe to such old traditional practices like confinement?
Initially, with the birth of Ryan who is my first child, I was slightly skeptical about the whole deal about confinement. I mean, after all the ang mohs(the whites) did not do any sort of confinement. They are out at the parks with their new babies after the deliveries. Surely, the confinement month is just something I could take with the pinch of salt. I did not want to subscribe to the entire confinement care much to the chagrin of my mother. I did the basic post natal care( some tonics, some soups, cooking with ginger and sesame oil and have as little contact with water as possible). However, my health did suffer as I was constantly exhausted and suffered from back problems. I suppose I had to learn my lesson the hard way. Maybe my mother is right. The make-up of the Asian bodies is different from the non-Asians?
For my second confinement, I had the help of my mother and a domestic helper. My mother was really good in cooking and confinement food preparation. This time round, my mother prepared many confinement soups for me and I drank it without complain this time round. In addition, with a domestic helper to assist, there was little problems for logistics. I noticed a difference when confinement is done ‘properly’ versus it done just haphazardly. Despite me having two children to manage then, I felt much stronger and less tired. There must be some medical reason on how the traditional confinement herbs could help to boost the health of a post natal mother.
Due to my drastic experiences(and post-natal results) in my first two confinement month, I am a strong believer of how traditional confinement is important in bringing about healthier mind and body for mothers. I also hope that new(and modern) mothers would be able to learn that getting the right post-natal care and diet would be beneficial for mothers and babies.
Almost immediately after I past my first trimester, I knew that I needed to be pro-active in getting help for my coming confinement. Like what I mentioned earlier, there were some challenges involved since I am located in London. After much effort, E and I managed to convince both the grandmothers to come over to London to help out for the confinement month. I also wanted to to ease the burden of getting the herbs and simplify preparation work for the confinement soups. It was with this aim that pushed me to start my online research for ready-made/pre-packed confinement herbs. In this process, I found that Mummamia was selling exactly what I needed as a new mother who is trying to DIY her confinement month.
What is the difference between my first two confinements and the current one with Mummamia?
Personally, after one week of drinking the herbal soups, I do feel more energized. With a newborn, E and I had horrible sleeps for the first few nights. Nevertheless, I did not have much trouble throughout the day, occasionally playing with Gillian and helping out with Ryan for his school work at night. In comparison to my previous two confinements, I think the different types of ‘formulated’ daily soups to ‘treat’ the 5 different confinement recovery stages is something that I have not tried before. (In fact, for someone like me who knows very little about TCM, I did not know that there was 5 stages of confinement recovery stages.)
Even for my second confinement which I thought was relatively stress-free with the help of my domestic helper and mother, the soups that my mother prepared most of the time was the threadfin fish(ngo he) and papaya soup which was meant for boosting of milk supply. The daily confinement soups that I am currently consuming is more catered towards nourishing the health of the new mothers. On a different note, Mummamia does have pre-packed soup that is specifically targeted for nursing mothers which I will review in a different post. 🙂
PRE-PACKED CONFINEMENT HERBS
I like how the confinement herbs are pre-packed and sealed. This means that it will simplify the preparation work for my mother who is cooking for me and there is a purpose for the daily soups. The herbs are professionally prescribed by Traditional Chinese Medical(TCM) Physician. These pre-packed herbs focus on 5 main confinement recovery stages, namely: Expel, Remove, Rejuvenate, Recuperate, Tonify.
Day 1: Nourish “Qi” & Tonify Yin
Day 2: Strengthening Spleen & Kidney
Day 3: Boosting Milk Supply and dissipate stasis
Day 4: Rejuvenate “Qi” & Blood
Day 5: Invigorate kidney and Reduce Water Retention
Day 6: continues as the Day 1
In each box sold by Mummamia, there are 5 packets. Each packet will be good for 2 servings of soup for lunch and dinner. However, in my case, I was able to have 3 servings of the soup… possibly because the soup bowl that I use is much smaller. So I usually have soup for my lunch, dinner as well as supper!
On top of that, preparing these confinement soups is quite easy with the pre-packed herbs.
Step 1: Prepare the meat(Usually pork/beef is prepared for the first 10 days. After 10 days, chicken can be included in the soup. At least, according to my mother and her friends. 😛 ). My mom will scald the meat(in this case, we are using 2 portions of pork chops to boil the soup) with boiling water before cooking it in the pressure cooker so as to remove the smell.
Step 2: Put all herbs into filter bag and rise them. Bring it to a boil.
Step 3: Continue boiling for 10-15 minutes then simmer (slow fire) for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Step 4: Add salt/wine(DOM, in my case). Serve it hot for lunch and dinner.
PRE-PACKED RED DATES
Red dates and longan drink is a must-have for most ladies who are doing the traditional confinement. In fact, this is the staple drink which is allowed to be consumed during the month. Cold water is particularly frowned upon as it may “chill” the body system still recovering from a weakened state after childbirth. This is because red dates are rich in iron, calcium, vitamins and also boost energy (‘Qi’). Taking red dates during confinement period helps to replenish blood lost and nourishes ‘Qi’ for better and speedy recovery. When it is combined with dried longan, calming effect soothe new mothers’ anxiety and nourishes kidney.
As usual, with the pre-packed red dates, preparation is very simple. Just boil the pre-packed red dates with fresh ginger, drink it throughout the day. The quality of Mummamia’s red dates and longans are really good that I can actually eat them on its’ own. They taste really sweet and nice, so I can vouch for the good quality in this case. 🙂
Here’s a sneak peek of what I have been eating for the past week of confinement.
As seen from the pictures, along with the nourishing soups from Mummamia, most of my confinement food is basically meals that are cooked with generous amount of old ginger, sesame oil, black fungus and old ginger.
Old ginger is the mainstay of confinement food as it is able to dispel “wind” from the body. It is generally believed that the new mother will find significant traces of “wind” in her body after childbirth. If left unchecked, it may lead to ailments like rheumatism or inexplicable aches and pains later in life. Ginger is also useful in supporting good intestinal digestion and overall blood circulation.
Sesame oil is used in many confinement food recipes largely due to its “heaty” nature as the new mothers are advised to avoid “cooling” foodstuff which may unnecessarily induce “wind” in the body. It is also rich in Vitamin E, iron and calcium. On top of that, it also provides nourishment through improving circulation, overall strength and vitality.
Black fungus is commonly known to alleviate “dryness” and promote circulation of the body. According to TCM, it particularly aids in nourishing the lungs, stomach and liver. More importantly, due to its rich iron content, it is exceptionally good for helping to purge the body of stale blood.
I am very thankful that my mother is here to help me with the preparation of the confinement food. The fact that ‘Mum’s cooking is the best’ is something very hard to dispute in the case of my family. Mummamia’s pre-packed soups just makes everything less stressful in terms of purchasing as well as preparation work.
My mother was commenting earlier that I seem to eat much more than I did for my first two confinements. Her observation is true. For my previous two confinements, I tried to restrict my intake of food(especially rice) because I wanted to be one of those mothers who ‘miraculously become skinny’ after birth. I was not doing myself any favours then.
This time round, my mother who hates long haul flights and cold countries took the trouble to fly to London to help me out with my confinement. The least thing that I could do to repay her kindness is to eat properly, nourish my health well and be a good mother to my children. Hence, I have been finishing up everything that you can see from the confinement food pictures, including the rice!
Do click on this link should you be interested in Mummamia confinement products. Just like me, you can also DIY your confinement. Purchase and preparation of traditional Chinese herbal soups can be daunting to the modern and young new mothers but there is always possibilities of going about it without short changing our health. Do email me should you have any questions on it.
Disclaimer: The Mummamia pre-packed confinement herbs is given to me for review purposes. I will be reviewing more of their products over the next two weeks as well!