A Comparison of Practices During the Confinement Period among Chinese, Malay, and Indian Mothers in Singapore

Doris Fok, Izzuddin M. Aris, Jiahui Ho, Sok Bee Lim, Mei Chien Chua, Wei Wei Pang, Seang Mei Saw, Kenneth Kwek, Keith M. Godfrey, Michael S. Kramer, Yap Seng Chong*, Pratibha Agarwal, Arijit Biswas, Choon Looi Bong, Birit F.P. Broekman, Shirong Cai, Jerry Kok Yen Chan, Yiong Huak Chan, Helen Y.H. Chen, Yin Bun CheungAudrey Chia, Amutha Chinnadurai, Chai Kiat Chng, Mary Foong Fong Chong, Shang Chee Chong, Chun Ming Ding, Eric Andrew Finkelstein, Marielle V. Fortier, Anne Eng Neo Goh, Yam Thiam Daniel Goh, Joshua J. Gooley, Wee Meng Han, Mark Hanson, Christiani Jeyakumar Henry, Joanna D. Holbrook, Chin Ying Hsu, Hazel Inskip, Jeevesh Kapur, Ivy Yee Man Lau, Bee Wah Lee, Yung Seng Lee, Ngee Lek, Yen Ling Low, Iliana Magiati, Lourdes Mary Daniel, Michael Meaney, Cheryl Ngo, Krishnamoorthy Naiduvaje, Anqi Qiu, Boon Long Quah, the GUSTO Study Group

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: Confinement (restrictions placed on diet and practices during the month right after delivery) represents a key feature of Asian populations. Few studies, however, have focused specifically on ethnic differences in confinement practices. This study assesses the confinement practices of three ethnic groups in a multi-ethnic Asian population. Methods: Participants were part of a prospective birth cohort study that recruited 1,247 pregnant women (57.2% Chinese, 25.5% Malay, and 17.3% Indian) during their first trimester. The 1,220 participants were followed up 3 weeks postpartum at home when questionnaires were administered to ascertain the frequency of adherence to the following confinement practices: showering; confinement-specific meals; going out with or without the baby; choice of caregiver assistance; and the use of massage therapy. Results: Most participants reported that they followed confinement practices during the first 3 weeks postpartum (Chinese: 96.4%, Malay: 92.4%, Indian: 85.6%). Chinese and Indian mothers tended to eat more special confinement diets than Malay mothers (p < 0.001), and Chinese mothers showered less and were more likely to depend on confinement nannies during this period than mothers from the two other ethnic groups (p < 0.001 for all). Malay mothers tended to make greater use of massage therapy (p < 0.001), whilst Indian mothers tended to have their mothers or mothers-in-law as assistant caregivers (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Most Singapore mothers follow confinement practices, but the three Asian ethnic groups differed in specific confinement practices. Future studies should examine whether ethnic differences persist in later childrearing practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalBirth
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this

Fok, D., Aris, I. M., Ho, J., Lim, S. B., Chua, M. C., Pang, W. W., ... the GUSTO Study Group (2016). A Comparison of Practices During the Confinement Period among Chinese, Malay, and Indian Mothers in Singapore. Birth, 43(3), 247-254. https://doi.org/10.1111/birt.12233