A new mum has revealed the reason why she chose not to shower for 30 days after giving birth.
Terry Loong, 40, opted for what is known as postpartum confinement – a practice she says is common in Asian culture, where a new mother does not leave the house, have visitors or, in some cases, bathe for a month following delivery.
The thinking behind it is that it helps protect both mum and baby from infections, gives the mother a chance to recover and recharge, and allows the two uninterrupted bonding time, reports The Mirror.
Aesthetic doctor Terry admitted she “did smell of bodily fluids” but she said she didn’t care.
She believes it helped her bond with little Matthew, free of any distractions, while giving her body the rest it desperately needed.
Terry, who is of Malaysian heritage and lives in Harrow, north west London, said: “I remember my mum having a period of confinement when I was little. I’m the oldest of five so I saw it a lot.
“It is common in Asian culture. Some of my Chinese friends here in London have done it too but adapted it to what works for them, picking different parts of it.
“I don’t know many people that did it fully, like me. The biggest thing is that people couldn’t believe I hadn’t showered.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was important. If I had another baby, I would definitely do it again.”
Following a textbook pregnancy, Terry went into labour with Matthew, now two, at just 37 weeks.
Keen to give herself a proper chance to heal, she decided to try postpartum confinement.
She explained: “It takes an enormous amount of energy to make, carry and deliver a baby.
“The sheer exhaustion I felt was a shock to my body.
“I knew I needed to rest, so decided to try confinement as I thought it would give me a chance to heal properly and mentally rest so I could be the best mother possible.”
So a day after the birth, Terry, who is married to 37-year-old business consultant Kurt, headed home without showering.
She added: “After the birth I had blood down below and was covered in sweat.
“My hair was really greasy to start with and I did smell of bodily fluids, but I didn’t care.
“It was the most natural thing in the world.”
Because she had sutures (stitches) in following the birth, Terry ensured she maintained a level of hygiene by washing her intimate areas with a witch hazel solution.
She also sprinkled baking powder into her hair to absorb the grease as it got dirtier.
But, for a month she didn’t properly wash her hair or shower.
She said: “I almost got used to it by the end, but I could tell I was smelly. I was committed to completing it though.
“By the end of it, Kurt joked ‘Thank god you’re allowed to shower now’.
“So much dead skin came away in that first shower – it was almost like I had cocooned myself.
“We did wash the baby though as we wanted to keep him clean.”
There was more to confinement than not washing however, and Terry adhered to strict rules covering physical exertion and staying indoors.
For 30 days she read books and spent time with her baby, but did not even open her windows or venture into the garden.
“One of the main things is to keep warm at all times, as getting a chill could spark an illness or infection,” she said.
“It was sunny but cool outside and Matthew’s immune system was still so low because he hadn’t been exposed to the outside environment.
“We wanted to make sure he was healthy too.
“I broke the confinement slightly as I went out for around an hour at the two-week mark to the park as it was a sunny day.
“We walked around the park a little bit and took in the sunshine with a picnic, but we didn’t talk to anyone there.
“My husband’s parents and his sister visited once or twice but we had no friends over until after the 30 days had ended.”
Terry insists she never got bored, saying looking after a baby is a full-time job.
“I became a hermit but time flew by quickly. Even though I gave up all my social media, I was never bored,” she explained.
“My husband was there all the time as he works from home, and we actually really enjoyed the confinement.”
She is speaking out to show other women how bringing Eastern traditions into the Western world could help ease the transition into motherhood, Terry believes having a period of confinement helped her bond with Matthew better.
She believes it helped her avoid any post-birth complications such as difficulties feeding, back ache and hair loss as well as post-natal depression.
“I know not everyone follows it as strictly as I did, but like with anything mother-related, it’s all about what’s right for you and your baby,” she said.
“I personally feel it helped us bond and become a family without distractions, and I came out of it feeling mentally stronger and ready to start my new life.
Gosh my midwife made me get out of bed for a shower a couple of hours after my second baby was born because apparently it was a bit stinky in the room. (I had a PPH) Gee thanks!
Did you take a postpartum confinement period after the birth of your babies?
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