Traditionally, mummies in China are discouraged from bathing and washing their hair soon after birth. Such “cooling” activities may bring on health problems like rheumatism, joint pains and headaches later in life, explains Wu Min, a senior physician at Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic.
“If the confinement period is in the winter, most people will only bathe, say, once a week or not at all. It also depends on the family’s wealth.”
In harsh winters, families who don’t have heated bathrooms will go to public baths to shower.
So, naturally, for mummies going through confinement, they may not shower too often, adds the 45-year-old, who hails from northern China and has two kids aged 19 and eight.
If the confinement period is in the summer, then most mums will choose to take quick showers. But definitely not with cold water, and not every day, she adds.
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However, Ranjani Srinivasan, a 37-year-old Singapore permanent resident, says in India, there are nurses who help new mothers shower a day after delivery.
“It’s not a long-drawn luxury bath. These nurses simply go around the maternity ward and help new mums take a quick two- to three-minute shower,” says Ranjani, who has two children aged 13 and nine.
American Heather Hockenberry, who’s married to a Chinese and has lived in Singapore for two years, says she jumped into the shower as soon as she could after delivering her daughter, now eight.
“Well, I’m 46 now and haven’t had any rheumatism or joint problems… yet,” she says.
THE DOCTOR SAYS…
There’s no medical reason why mums should not shower or wash their hair after delivery, especially in the hot and humid Singapore weather.
In fact, maintaining good hygiene lowers the chance of infection, says Dr Ben Choey, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at W Gynae Women’s Clinic.
“Hair washing will also not cause future health problems. On another note, your husband may also prefer a clean and fresh-looking wife,” he adds.