I've recently given birth and there are alot of customs and traditions that follow a child's birth and the post natal care for the mother's recovery especially in this part of Asia. It has to do with the food we eat and how a mother is taken care of in this time of convalesence of about 30 days or what is typically known as the confinement period.
The confinement period is a time when new mothers are encouraged to eat more nutritional foods like specially brewed tonics, soups and when certain foods have to be avoided. The whole basis of the careful selection of a confinement diet is so the whole process of recovery from childbirth is quick and done properly so that the body can go back to its natural form all healthy and strong.
Its not only the diet that has to be taken care of but I've also heard of alot of traditions and customs that must be followed as well... like not washing your hair for 30 day (something I just couldn't do!), keeping the coldness/wind away from your body (like no aircon in the hot humid heat!), wrapping and binding your body to keep your body in shape (keeps the tummy in!), basically nothing too strenuous for the already exhausted body after giving birth.... lots of rest and more rest topped with a wholesome diet.
I'm going to share you a few of the dishes that I have typically eaten during my confinement period. These dishes and recipes have been prepared for me by my mother-in-law, my aunt and even my husband (my red tea brewer!!). They are just a few dishes that I have had and I know that there are many more but these are the ones I have enjoyed the most and they have helped me get through my time of confinement making me feel refreshed and giving me back the strength and health that I had before birth.
So usually for the first week I would typically start off with what is called Red Date Tea, which is kind of like a blackcurrant tasting drink brewed to revitalise your body and health. You would normally drink this straight away with your first meal and its drunk all thoughout your whole confinement period or anytime at all when you need a little pick up. In the weeks before I gave birth I had to prepackage all my herbs in little bags so I could just open them and pop them into the pot to boil and just add the water and fresh ginger, kind of like an instant tea I guess!!
Red Date Tea
10 -15 red dates, stoned (I like it sweeter so I added a few more, you can also add a mixture of black and blue dates too)
50g black beans, pan fried without any oil
20g tong sum (codonopsis pilosula)
10g dried longan flesh
4 slices of ginger, crushed
1. Add the water and all the other ingredients to bring to a boil and boil for another 12-15mins. Simmer for about 1hr or until it has reduced to about 4 cups.
2. Strain the tea and keep it in a flask so that you can drink it anytime of the day.