Sew is Life is written by E. It is a little space of blogging bliss inspired by art, design, craft, fashion, beauty and wellness. Based in Perth, Western Australia. Read about the daily ramblings of me being a mother of three and wife to an amazing creative man. The second me makes fresh skincare at SELF Organics. These are my stories sewn together with love.
There is a tradition that goes back a long way into Chinese Malaysian history that a mother who has just recently given birth must go through a ‘confinement’ period of at least 30 days. They believe that a mother’s body is at its weakest and most vunerable and needs to be restored after the birth.
During this time the mother is cooked various nutritional foods consisting mainly of ginger, sesame seed oil, wine (DOM), chicken and chinese herbs. The purpose of eating these types of food is to expel the ‘wind’ from the body and warm and nourish the mother’s body. If the mother does not do this, her body will be susceptible to future ailments such as arthritis, pain in the feet, colds etc.
Ginger chicken with wine
Photo courtesy of 101healthyeasyfoodrecipes.com
Then there is the other not so fun traditions of not touching water or not touching cold surfaces for the 30 days. This includes:
- No bathing or washing of the hair or body (this step is especially difficult for me!)
- No washing of laundry, dishes or even bathing baby
- Must cover up the body with layers of clothing
- Cannot turn on the fan or airconditioner
- Cannot go outside of the house, especially when there is wind
- Should wear socks and slippers to avoid feet touching cold surfaces
- The mother is not even allowed to drink plain water but drink chinese herbal tonics
- No ‘cold’ foods such as fruit and certain vegetables, definitely no ice-cream, yogurts and juice.
Scallop, ginger and goji berry congee/porridge
Photo Courtesy of cookingstudio1.blogspot.com
Red date tea
Photo Courtesy of ilovebakingncooking.blogspot.com
Ok, it hasn’t been too bad, I’m trying to remain positive here. Since I had my baby during Winter I am not sweating as much. Though, my hair gets soooo itchy I had to beg my Mum to wash it after the first week. She helped me boil some ginger cut offs in water and washed my hair in the basin. I like the smell of ginger so this didn’t bother me. My husband, who is not Chinese is extremely understanding and has been through this twice before. I bought a few cans of dry shampoo, so this has been my saving grace (review to follow shortly)
I’m half way through my confinement period, and it doesn’t seem to get any easier. I’m the type of person who can’t sit still or stay at home for too long, I need to go out and meet people and I feel most independent and useful when I can do things for myself and my family. Now I rely on others to grab something for me down at the shops, or take my daughter to school.
In Malaysia they have hired help, women who are specially trained in the art of ‘confinement’, who will cook meals for the Mother and look after the baby to allow her to rest. How I wish I could hire a ‘confinement’ lady, my Mother helps me a lot but this is a specialized occupation that is a full-time job. Mum still has her day job to go to. So I find myself breaking the ‘no touching water’ rule, such as bathing my kids, cooking meals etc.
I’m so glad I have understanding friends. It annoys me that I can’t go out and catch up with them, but they come and visit me which I appreciate so much! I miss adult conversation and interaction! But maybe…it is best to wait until I am less smellier (phoar!)
Just another 19 days…and I’m starting the count down…
Do you follow any traditions past down through generations?
Have a great weekend you lovely smellin’ people, I’m so jealous that you are having your warm showers!
You may have noticed I haven’t been posting very much in the last couple of days and there have been a lot of incoming ‘baby’ photos uploaded from my phone onto ‘Sew is Life’, so yes, you have guessed it! On 22nd July, just before dinner time, I had my baby girl!
We named her Luna Min Li Arevalo. ‘Luna’ is a name that you don’t hear everyday and we actually took months to decide on her name after we found out we were having a baby girl. A few reasons why we chose Luna, because of the many cosmic events that have occurred in 2012, she is a Cancerian baby which is represented by the Moon, also my mother’s chinese name starts with ‘Nyat’ or ‘Yuet’ which means Moon. Initially the name came to us whilst we were reading a children’s book to Sofia and Leo before their bed time and we thought ‘THAT’S IT!’.
I thought I would share a few details on my birthing story because it may be of interest to some of those who have never experienced giving birth before. Don’t worry there are no SCARY or nightmarish details. Everyone’s birthing story is different but I’m glad that I have been able to have a natural and uncomplicated birth for all three of my children.
TENS machine with electrodes attached to the lower and mid back
My cramps “contractions” started at 10am, bearable enough that I was able to walk to the shops and buy bread for breakfast. When I realised that they were coming regularly, it was obviously time! I had a quick shower and then got Hubz to put on my TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) Machine and the electrode pads. I found it effective the last time I gave birth, so I gave it another go. Some say they don’t get any benefit from these but it is one of the ways to manage and control your pain naturally without any drugs.
TENS machine remote control (too bad it couldn’t play tunes or movies)
There are 3 different functions, and each go up to a certain level. I found I didn’t have to go up to the highest function which is ‘C’, because ‘B’ was already giving me adequate pulses. Whenever I felt a contraction coming on, I would hit the ‘boost’ button and the pulse would change into a buzzing feeling along my back. It is a strange feeling, kind of like getting tasered! But on the lowest level of course. It’s funny that I would taser myself, and put myself through more pain! This is ‘pain combating pain’ method
This was my longest labour so far…at 7.5 hours. I only had the assistance of a mid-wife, with my other two it was at a private hospital with an obstetrician. There was definitely a different mind set, private hospitals like to hurry along the process whereas the public hospital supports natural progression.
Honestly I wanted it to be over as fast as possible, as I forgot to eat lunch and my energy levels were slumping! I brought in powerade drinks to help, because it is like a marathon sport! Plus I used a mix of lavendar, ylang ylang and geranium essential oils and dabbed it on my pillow, it helped relaxed my mind and these oils have healing properties. I used a back massager too, just a small plastic one which I made my Hubz drill it into my lower back. All that time spent in the gym building that muscle was put to work for sure. He was such a great support person, took charge and helped me through it all. I had so much LOVE (and hate) for him that day :)
Luna - Day 1 photo, looking snug, a natural poser
After a couple of pushes, cold and hot sweats and the shaking of my fatigued muscles my little girl arrived, the heaviest of the 3 at 7 pounds 1 ounce. She was a beautiful, chubby, pink bundle - perfect! And then one of my first thoughts was ‘That’s my nose! Crap’. It’s unbelievable how the most trivial thoughts come after the most challenging tasks! Sometimes you just zone out straight after the birth, I wasn’t listening to a word the midwife was saying. I just wanted to soak in all the glory that I had overcome one of the most gruelling, painful moments in a woman’s life.
Thankfully no stitches were needed and I was up and walking around immediately after the birth.
First bath for Luna, I’m glad I remembered how this should be done
After my family came to visit and Sofia and Leo were so excited to meet the new baby. They wanted to touch her and kiss her, it was such a nice feeling to see all my children together. Especially seeing the love radiate so easily for this little one. That night after they went home, I missed my two children and hope they would be fine without mummy for a couple of nights. My body was aching and super tired but my mind was awake…all the adrenalin and endorphins were peaking and I could not sleep a wink. I must have only slept 2 hours that night…whereas Luna slept so soundly. The midwife told me to wake her a couple of times for a feed, but she looked so peaceful.
What a day that was! She came one week early at 39 weeks (as predicted). The day before I was at the movies watching ‘Brave’ and shopping around with my family. I was most carefree about this pregnancy, very relaxed and prepared. It was my third time so Hubz knew I would be pro at this.
Big sister kisses, can’t wait to see them grow up together and build a sisterly bond
I couldn’t wait to take Luna home, so I left the hospital after 2 nights. Everyone was super excited to have her home.
Just want to say that blog updates may not come as quickly for the next couple of weeks because I will be busy with the new lil miss. In the meantime, please let me know what else you would like to see on the blog, I have a few reviews, DIY projects and fashion posts coming so stay tuned!
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Did your pregnancy go as you planned, how was the experience for you? Please share your birth story, would love to hear about it :)