I have just had a baby. The gynecologist who helped him in to the world was impossibly glamorous (Chanel suit and hair down during the delivery), within 3 days of giving birth I was told I was full of shit, on day 5 I happily chowed down a pig’s trotter and I have not yet washed my hair.
So what’s gone wrong? Actually, despite what it sounds like, everything is exactly how I had hoped. My gyne was utterly amazing despite the fact she studied at the university of lipstick; my Malay post birth wrap/massage lady was merely telling me, in no uncertain terms, that my colon was full; my confinement nanny’s cooking is delicious and although I have not yet squeezed a shampoo bottle, I can assure you that my hair is washed and clean.
The sisterhood network is alive and well in Singapore, you just have to open your wallet to access it, and offers very real support at what is usually a notoriously difficult time.
The women who have been my salvation came in the form of Mary, my confinement nanny (left), and wonderful Julie, the masseuse extraordinaire.
Julie is half Chinese, half Malay and has practiced post birth urut and body wrapping for the last 26 years. She was recommended by ‘Beautiful Gyne’ who used her after the birth of each of her three children, so of course I didn’t hesitate before making a booking. Don’t be misled by the word massage though, this is about getting back in to shape and there is nothing remotely relaxing about it: my initial hopes of 7 days of blissful kneading and wraps to cajole me in to – or at least halfway to – my pre pregnancy appearance rather appealed but were instantly dashing upon meeting Julie, who is by no means slight and looked like she meant business when she announced ominously at the start of the session, “No pain, no gain.” She burped throughout it in an effort to show she is a channel, releasing the wind in me, via her (at least I think that was the idea). Either that or she had eaten something that strongly disagreed with her.
The worst part of each hour though was just before the end, when she focused her mighty energy on my stomach and re-adjusting my internal organs. Each time she did it, I always thought of a builder reaching his hand in to a cavernous tool bag and rootling around for a spanner, or in Julie’s case, my uterus. She was right though: no pain, no gain, and she worked wonders on me, leaving me feeling almost normal by the time our 7 days were up. The binder, which went on at the end of each session to consolidate her hard work was a cotton, old-school style corset and really quite comfortable although after 5 hours of solid wear a day, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was a relief to take it off.
As for the hair…I have outsourced it to my local hair salon who do an amazing retro blow dry for the princely sum of $20. I feel uber local when I can tell my friends, hand on heart, that I have not washed my hair during confinement.
Julie’s number is: (+65) 81819877
Mary’s number is: (+65) 9778 8522 – she’s sometimes back home in Malaysia, so if it doesn’t ring/has a strange ringtone, try again in a week or so when she’ll probably be here and can answer it.
Chinese confinement herbs image via Fatboo