Showering in Tea?: Mothers Share Their Fav Confinement Foods and Stories
Favourite Confinement Foods 2021
Ah, aren’t mothers a different breed? They carry us for 9 months, birth us into the world and suckle us till we’re plump. We’re in the thick of World Breastfeeding Week 2021, which is focused this year on protecting breastfeeding worldwide. And we’re doing our part in the best way we know how – through food!
Diet is everything, especially for new mummies. Usually for a month after childbirth, Asian mothers practise “confinement” where they do (or not do) a whole bunch of tasks to help them recuperate. In Singapore, confinement practices vary with ethnicities, but all have a focus on food to promote recovery, and protect both mother and child from falling ill via breastfeeding.
Did you know that breastfeeding benefits both babies (duh) and mummies? According to UNICEF, breastfeeding protects babies from a whole range of illnesses including infection, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity, as well as cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). For mothers, breastfeeding protects them from breast and ovarian cancers and heart disease. This lovely act builds mother-baby relationships and supports the mental health of both!
We spoke to 4 mothers who shared their favourite confinement foods and stories:
Wan Theng, Mother of 1. Favourite Food: Vinegar Pork Trotter.
We first spotted Wan Theng when we noticed her tagging her friends-turned-new-parents in our confinement series. As she recalls, her favourite confinement dish was Vinegar Pork Trotter, made, of course, by her mother!
While we might not have her mother’s secret recipe, this recipe uses sweet vinegar and lots of gingers to balance the richness of the pork trotter. Dark and gelatinous, this dish may be daunting to cook (and eat!) but it’s packed with nutritious ingredients from sesame oil to gingers and the star, collagen-rich pork trotter.
Love as a verb
“The highlight of my confinement was just experiencing love as a verb; love generationally and unconditionally. My mum and sisters flew all the way from Malaysia to be with us for the birth of my daughter in early 2020, and then stayed for a month plus to cook for us, clean up the house and run errands. I’m so thankful we got that opportunity. My heart really goes out to all the new parents in this pandemic who had to go through every stage from delivery to parenthood by themselves without the physical help of loved ones. You are the real heroes.”
Preparation Time: 1 hr 30 mins. Serves: 4 – 6 pax.
Magdalene, Mother of 1. Favourite Food: Sesame Ginger Chicken And Pork Liver
With her 20 month old son, Magdalene recalls her confinement period a little… less fondly. She recounts hiccups with confinement nannies – two different nannies, to be exact, within her one month of confinement.
But lucky her, she finally found a nanny who whipped up delicious confinement dishes. And her favourite of the lot is Sesame Ginger Chicken And Liver. The star of this dish is the pork liver, which is packed with lots of vitamins and minerals like iron, selenium, vitamin B-12, vitamin A. Pork liver can be tricky to prepare and cook but this recipe video shows you a trick to “cleaning” liver slices before marinating them.
The month flew by before she knew it and speaking to us now, she misses having nice smelling herbal tea baths prepared for her. A luxury, indeed!
Preparation Time: 30 mins. Serves: 3 – 4 pax.
Claire, Mother of 2. Favourite Food: Pork Kidney Misua
Pork kidneys – you either love them or you hate them. The sight of raw whole kidneys can be quite nauseating but you’ll have to brave that to enjoy them. While we haven’t quite muster the courage to deal with pork kidneys, we have another “warming”, traditional confinement mee sua meal:
Learning and passing down delicious confinement traditions
“I would say that I was fortunate during my confinement, my mother-in-law was there to guide me starting from day one of my pregnancy. During pregnancy she told me about foods I should be eating to make my womb stronger, and I mostly did not have “cooling” foods because it can weaken the womb.
When I gave birth, she took care of me by making me a grouper fish soup where the fish was bought alive for ultimate freshness. Here in the Philippines, moringa (辣木属) is quite abundant so she made soup with it for my milk production. Yo chi (猪肾) misua, tik wa (猪肝) misua and sweet fermented rice with egg are breakfast staples. Ginger rice and viand prepared with ginger for lunch and dinner.
I took note of these traditions and eventually I would want to pass them to my two daughters. God willing, I would be present when it’s their turn; to do this age-old tradition and to pass it down to the next generation.”
Preparation Time: 45 mins. Serves: 3 – 4 pax.
Karen, Mother of 1. Favourite Food: Milkfish And Green Papaya Soup
Karen’s favourite food is a keeper! Known for their lactation properties, the nutritious combination of milkfish and green papaya makes for a divine, well balanced soup. We tried it in the studio and oh my, it was so comforting; everyone should give it a try – breastfeeding or not!
Mothers put their bodies through so much just to have us. Karen shared how fussy her little one was during the first month – the sleepless nights, the dirty-diaper mornings, the pain and relief of breastfeeding and her greatest sense of achievement when her son finally latches!
Preparation Time: 1hr 30 mins. Serves: 3 – 4 pax.
Support breastfeeding mothers
Life today has never been more different, but tried-and-tested confinement practices are here to stay for old or new mummies alike. It’s certainly not easy being a mum, so in the spirit of World Breastfeeding Week 2021, we want to share with you Breastfeeding Mothers’ Support Group. They provide counselling support and support groups for mothers in Singapore.
For counselling support:
+65 6339 3558
For the rest of us, a simple way we can support breastfeeding mothers who we know is to cook for them. With these confinement recipes, you’ll be her favourite friend in no time. The best part is that they’re not just for new mummies — these recipes are packed with nutritious, vitamin- and mineral-rich ingredients, great for anyone who needs a little immune system boost.
More confinement recipes you might like:
- Ginger Fried Rice
- Stir Fried Pork with Mushrooms
- Pan Fried Cod Fish with Sweet & Sour Pork
- Shi Guan Tonic Soup
P.S. We’ve got recipes for all your Singaporean and Asian favourites on our Youtube channel. Subscribe and share with your friends!
P.P.S. Can’t find a recipe you like? Drop us a comment or ping us on our socials.