An Overview of Malay Confinement practices
The Malay confinement period is known as ‘pantang’. As a set of ‘pantang larang’, it contains numerous restrictions for new mothers. These restrictions are in place for the mother to regain her strength, figure, and health after undergoing the strain of childbirth.
Duration of Confinement for Malay mothers and Practices
Among confinement between Chinese, Indian and Malay mothers, the Malay confinement period is the longest – going for as long as 44 days, but some do extend to about 100 days. During these next 44 days, they are advised to dine according to a diet that requires them to stay away from cooling foods and instead, eat heated foods, as to restore balance to the body after giving birth. Another way to keep the body warm is by drinking a special drink called ‘jamu’ – made from fresh turmeric, ginger, lemon and water that has been sweetened with honey.
In the olden days, a ‘bidan’ (midwife) would dust the umbilical stump with spices after childbirth at home, but research has shown that the modern way of childbirth in a hospital is safer as it reduces the risks of infections and complications. Also, right after giving birth, it is advised for both the mother and child to shower with warm water that has been mixed with herbs. It is important to note that the main practice is to keep warm – so being seated on or near a heat source, or even by placing a heated stone on your abdomen helps. Most Malay mothers would spend their confinement period with hot compresses (bertungku), heat treatment (berdiang), herbal baths, body wraps (berbengkung/berbarut), and body massages. The body massages will help with the extended belly trimming process and keep her body in shape. Sex is strictly prohibited during the confinement period.
Foods to Eat and Avoid
Freshwater fish like catfish, Tilapia and Patin are examples of beneficial food sources that can quicken the inner healing process from tears and wounds that mothers may have attained during labour. Be aware that this doesn’t mean that seafood, in general, is something mothers can have on their food list, as mackerel, prawns and scallops are capable of causing further irritations and allergies. The body may also be vulnerable to rheumatism, arthritis and weak joints, should mothers not avoid cold foods like cucumber, young coconut, spinach and sugar.
The process of labour has caused the body of mothers to lose a lot of blood, and that also means that the body will get cold and tense easily, so the right postnatal care would serve to improve blood circulation and quicken the timeline to regain a slim waistline. Start adopting a healthy morning ritual with herbal blend water, one that has been mixed with herbs and spices. This will help the body regain energy, burn unwanted fats, air and toxins, as well as assist with the recovery process. However, be sure to not get too carried away as herbs can easily be absorbed into the breast milk – causing it to curdle and give babies acidic stomach fluid.
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