After giving birth, a mother enters a pivotal transitional period known as post-partum. In these 4-6 weeks, she must regain strength in mind, body, and emotion, while adjusting to new domestic and social roles. Many things can help a mother during postpartum, including support from family and healthcare providers, avoiding complications, eating a balanced diet, and having a safe and clean environment. It's also important to have emotional support during this time. By taking care of themselves, new mothers can ensure a smooth transition into motherhood. Self-care after giving birth is oftentimes called postpartum confinement. In this period, the mother is required to follow certain practices and traditions which are aimed at supporting the health of the child and mom. Southeast Asian countries are known to have unique practices, ranging from diet and socialization to personal hygiene.
FEEDING THE PREGNANT
In Filipino tradition, it is common for the mother's family to take care of her during the postpartum period. This is known as "pagpapakain sa buntis" or "feeding the pregnant," which is the practice of providing care and support for the new mother and baby. The mother's family, especially her mother and mother-in-law, are expected to take care of the mother and baby's needs, such as preparing meals, doing household chores, and taking care of other children. They also usually stay with the mother to assist her with the baby and to provide emotional support.
It is also common for the mother's family, friends, and relatives to visit the mother and baby during the postpartum period. This is known as "pagdalaw sa buntis," or "visiting the pregnant." They usually bring gifts such as clothes, toys, and food for the mother and baby, and they usually stay to chat, help, and give moral support. It's also a time of celebration and bonding for the family and community.
During the confinement period, it is considered a mother's obligation to stay indoors, and it's believed that if the mother goes out it can cause her to catch a cold or get sick. That's why it is the family, friends, and relatives who go to visit her, to provide her with the companionship and support she needs during this time.
In traditional Filipino culture, mother will consume food that will help with milk production and restore their health after giving birth, lactation food is common across many cultures. This diet typically includes foods that are high in protein and iron, such as fish, meat, and leafy greens, kakanin (glutinous rice) that are rich in carbohydrates and energy, soups that are believed to help in healing and recovery such as "Tinolang manok" and many more.
Tinolang manok is a popular dish in the Philippines and is often served to new mothers during their postpartum period. It is a soup made with chicken, ginger, and green papaya. It is believed to help nourish the mother's body and promote milk production. The ginger in the soup is also believed to have a property that can help reduce muscle pain and discomfort. It is also considered to be easy to digest and is a comforting food for new mothers. It's also important to note that the postpartum period is also a time for the mother to bond with her baby and for the family to celebrate the new addition. The mother will be served a variety of food and snacks by the family members and friends who visit her.
It is believed that new mothers should avoid taking a bath for ten days after giving birth to prevent "binat", a condition characterized by flu-like symptoms. This practice is considered to be important for the well-being of the mother and her newborn.
Additionally, guava leaves are commonly used as a hot steam and wash for postpartum wound care after normal spontaneous vaginal delivery with episiotomy. It is believed to be effective in promoting healing and preventing infection.
In the Philippines, there are a few postpartum confinement practices and beliefs. Here’s a rundown of some of those traditions to know if they are helpful:
- Burying the 'Inunan' Placenta
After a woman gives birth, it is believed to be important that the placenta and afterbirth are buried as soon as possible. This is thought to help end labor pains and bleeding. In Filipino culture, the baby's father is often responsible for this task. Mothers are supposed to stay warm, rest well, and remain indoors for 30 to 40 days post-birth. This helps the mother heal physically and prevents "cold" or "wind" from entering her body, according to Filipino beliefs. The mother is also given special foods to eat so that she can produce nutritious milk.
- Colostrum: The First Milk Myth
It is a common belief in the Philippines that colostrum, the first milk produced by a mother, is not healthy for babies. Therefore, until the mother's milk comes in, babies are commonly given an alternative by family members. This is a known misconception about postpartum. It is salient to always discuss with a healthcare provider what’s best for you and your kid. Moreover, colostrum is packed with nutrients that are healthy for your child.
No Negative Emotions: Some individuals also refrain from breastfeeding when they're tired or have negative emotions. This is because they don't want these feelings to transfer to their little ones.
Although you may think that this is a myth, a study from Harvard University confirmed that milk from mothers with postpartum depression had lower immunoglobulin A or antibodies levels. Anxiety also has a negative effect as it brings lower levels of antibodies on breastmilk. These antibodies are important as this might help grant immunity to your kid.
- Breech Baby
A breech baby (called “suhi” in Filipino which means baby came out from the womb feet first instead of the head first) will bring luck to the family. She will also have the ability or gift to remove fish spines (“tinik” in Filipino) stuck in another person’s throat by simply touching that person’s neck.
It is said that this is a discomfort to the child brought by a person having “usog” or hex- some even call it an evil wind/ eye. It happens when the person meets the child then becomes fond of him/her. The child will usually have fever and feel weak. The child may suffer extreme discomfort that he/she will cry a lot. The only way to cure the child from usog is when the person who has this usog will apply or dab his / her saliva on the child’s forehead or abdomen. To prevent usog from happening, people usually say “pwera usog” when people greet a child.
Some say that everyone may have this hex/usog in us but it just varies in intensity. People who have darker gums and are hungry at the moment they met the child will pass on a stronger usog to the child. Another way to protect the child from usog is by wearing an anti-usog bracelet (usually with black and orange or red beads).
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