To Swaddle or Not

Most newborns are swaddled (dibedong). Very rarely we see them ‘hang loose’. I didn’t really understand the need for swaddling when I had Tasha six years ago other than to ‘straighten’ her legs. Now, as superstitious (read: kuno) as that sounds, how many of you swaddle your babies for this particular reason? I guess it makes a bit of sense, I mean, newborns DO have crooked legs for being cramped in the womb for the last 40 odd weeks. So straightening their legs and wrapping them tightly should do the trick.

But really, would babies who are not swaddled end up walking with bent, O-shaped legs as adults? I guess the only sure-fire way to find out is to conduct a simple study -gather as many people who walk funny as possible and ask them whether or not they were swaddled when they were babies. Obviously, this is no easy task as (1) these people won’t even know or remember, and (2) it’d be extremely offensive to ask them that especially if they don’t realize that they walk funny. A cheaper and more practical way to knowing the truth would be to read about it from those who are scientifically knowledgeable on the matter.

Thanks to the internet, I googled this issue and found out that hey, surprise, surprise, swaddling babies to make their legs straight is just a myth. In fact, some experts claim that we shouldn’t swaddle babies for too long as this may affect their hip development or motoring skills. I should’ve seen that coming, but being the traditional (and slightly chicken) me, I simply swallowed and followed what my elders tell me ‘coz they seem to have the wisdom (right?).

Thing is, although leg straightening is utter rubbish, there are other benefits to swaddling. For one, it helps babies to calm down if they’re having trouble sleeping or experiencing colic. Have you noticed that for really small babies, even with the slightest sound or movement, they will startle in their sleep? Some babies can go back to sleep easily while others may end up crying for hours. I guess this is mother nature’s way of telling us the bond between mom and child begins right from the womb. A snug swaddle may resemble the warmth these babies feel when in their mommies’ wombs, so it sort of coax them to go back to sleep should they be startled. Another benefit of swaddling is that it eases breastfeeding, ‘cos hey, who wants to feed babies’ with their arms flailing about?

So why am I talking about this topic today?

I used to swaddle Rayyan for about 3 weeks but not anymore and to be honest, I’m feeling pretty bad about it. It’s not that I purposely do not want to swaddle him, it’s just that even when swaddled, his legs tend to curl inwards i.e. not straight, so what’s the point? And he’s such a good baby -not being difficult or colicky (crossing fingers this is a permanent thing!) that I didn’t want to subject him to the common practice unnecessarily. In fact, he can sleep quite soundly even when ‘hang loose’, other than to cry for food or nappy change. So why am I feeling bad? Don’t know lah.. Maybe it’s because  I’m a traditional chicken. Traditional as in I tend to follow customs and the ‘usual’ practices and chicken ‘cos I feel takut-takut, like, what if I don’t do it and then the baby turns out unwell etc. Hubby on the other hand is not superstitious and doesn’t like to be too rigid in following these practices. Guess that makes him a good balance for me. I do need him around to be more unconventional and not feel too bad when not doing what others find common. While I don’t know for sure what I’m doing is ideal or not, I’m beginning to embrace the thought that so long as the baby’s happy (happy babies don’t cry, right?) and healthy (this one I gotta confirm with his doctor in 3 weeks), it should be no big deal.

Still, I do have that urge to tuck him in the blanket, kinda like a semi swaddle from time to time..


Not So Ideal Pantang..

I’m currently on day 34 of my confinement, or pantang in our Malay tradition, which leaves me ten days before I can rejoice my freedom. But somehow, deep down, I don’t feel that I deserve to celebrate. Why? Well to be honest, I have NOT been observing my pantang as strictly as I should, as I did the first time. I feel kinda bad about that. As much as I keep telling myself that they were all with reasons, I still don’t feel any better! But what can make me feel slightly better is to write about it -to share with my miniscule number of readers what and why was I not confining myself enough.

So, what exactly have I not been observing? I think it would be easier to explain that if one compares it with what I did observe the last time, and that can be read here. But knowing how most people can’t be bothered to read links within links, I’ll just highlight the important bits and do the comparison below for convenience.

The following in italics are excerpts of my past pantang regime and I have made notes of what I did (or did not d0) this time around:

“I was fortunate to have stayed with my MIL, who is a full-time homemaker, during my confinement. Every morning before breakfast and evening before Maghrib, she would come to my room and lumur me with oil and give me a nice all-over-body rub…” ~~ OK, I’m still lucky to have my MIL around this time but she only stayed with me for 20 days before going back to kampung, and since she’s not in the pinkest of health herself, I can’t bear to let her massage me as often as before, so I was pretty happy that she was willing to do the occasional rubs when she can!

“My own mom, a true Javanese lady, made me follow her simpler version of confinement during the entire 45 days. Here’s a list:

  • eat 3-4 types of jamu daily ~~ Nope, did not consume any sort of jamu whatsoever till now as I easily suffer from constipation. Mom makes me eat them later though, maybe after pantang.
  • wear the pilis on my forehead ~~ I only wore it on three days during this confinement. Why aah I’m so lazy??
  • rub the param on my abdomen just before wrapping myself with the bengkung (or corset). According to my mom, it is best to wear the bengkung for a good 100 days but I stopped at day 60 -can’t stand the hotness and sometimes itchiness. But this time around, I hope to have more willpower and complete that challenge of 100 days of bengkung-wearing! ~~ I do wear a special type of bengkung now since I went through C-sect but I can’t apply the param thing as it would sting around my incision area. Still planning to wear it for 100 days though, fingers crossed!
  • bertungku every morning and evening ~~ Can’t do this, C-sect!
  • no eating oily food as it’s fatty and stall the healing process of my stitches ~~ Ish susah lah ni. Since I’m cooking myself now, sometimes it’s easier to just goreng something!
  • wear socks ALL the time ~~ I couldn’t wear any socks for the first 2 weeks as my feet were swollen beyond recognition! Now that they’ve shrunk to their normal size, I still can’t wear socks all the time since it’s too troublesome for me to do house chores, like going in and out of the bathroom.
  • sleep in a semi-sitting position i.e. stack the pillows behind my back  so my body isn’t horizontal ~~ OK, this I could do, even till now.
  • always keep the legs close together. NO mengangkang, bersila or fold the legs at anytime during the confinement! ~~ Hah, this doesn’t apply to me now, but the downside of C-sect is that your WHOLE body hurts when you move, not just down there!
  • eat loads of food with black pepper, ginger and garlic in them. No eating food that are berangin or ‘sejuk’ ~~ Kinda hard for me to distinguish which food should or should not be consumed other than the usuals, so kekadang tu I tibai je. I’m guilty of having eaten bananas (gasp), macaroons (ayoo, so rich in egg-whites!) and even eggs (pengsan)
  • drink plenty of warm water, so obviously, cold and bicarbonate drinks are out of the question ~~Oops, there have been occasions where I can’t tahan myself (tulah pantang sorang2) and I did drink some cold or bicarbonated drinks (not at the same time, though)

“I also showered with some herbs and wash my precious with air rebusan akar kayu for a few days to top it all off” ~~ Nope, not this time.

“And at the end of my confinement, I went to a proper tukang urut where the old lady did the sengkak thing” ~~ Nope, no can do. As long as I feel my abdomen’s still wobbly inside, there will be no touchy!

So there you have it. My less than ideal pantang regime.  I know that some women can’t be bothered with all this and may have that “minah2 salih tu tak pantang, OK je” attitude. But I’m pretty old-fashioned. I’ve always been a fan of traditions and as long as those practices aren’t against Islam, there’s no harm in following eh?

New Addition

I should really be more disciplined and fill my blog entries more consistently. Not that anybody’s reading them… but, at least I have something to do other than expressing milk and changing diapers.

Oh yes, THAT.

Tasha’s got a new baby brother! His name is Rayyan, which in Arabic has several meanings -satisfaction, luxuriant and one of the names of the gates of heaven. He was born at APSH, just like his sister, on 14.04.11 at 5.24pm.

Initially, I was expected to deliver normally as I did with Tasha. In fact, I was also set to do it drug-free like the first time.. but we can only plan, right? On labour day, which began as a usual weekly checkup for me, the doctor suggested that there might be a sign of fetal distress and since I haven’t gotten pregnant in a while (more like 6 years), she didn’t recommend that I wait any longer -though at this time, my contractions were already consistent and getting stronger. She then left us to discuss privately. As much as I could hold on to the pain and wanted to give birth normally, I wasn’t about to risk anything for my baby. So in 5 minutes, we both agreed to have an emergency C-section. My eyes watered when Hubby signed the relevant form, I don’t really know why. Maybe because I’ve never had any surgery before, or maybe because Hubby wasn’t allowed to be with me during the procedure, or maybe because the thought of being on GA terrified the hell out of me.. what if I don’t wake up? What if there are further complications, ‘cos I once read that general anesthesia carries more risks than local (it was only much later that I realized the real, practical reason of me wanting to shed tears -the cost of the operation was a bomb!)

As the nurses scurried away getting everything ready while I was being pushed in and out of the elevator (they weren’t kidding when they say it’s an emergency!), I tried to remain calm, which proved to be quite difficult since my contractions and heart beat were dancing hard simultaneously. In the OR, I remembered vividly how it felt so much scarier and looked less glamorous compared to the scenes in Grey’s Anatomy. I remembered being asked to sign something seconds before dozing off. The next thing I remembered, I felt itchy in the throat and, almost instantly, felt this throbbing pain in my abdomen. I thought I was contracting again and asked the nurse when will it be over. They smiled and said “Dah lama habis kak. Dah sejam dah”. Wow, I truly was heavily sedated, hehe.

Back in my ward, Hubby awaited me with a smile and since I was still ‘high’ on drugs, he said I rambled  nonsensically for the next few minutes –“have u seen our son?”.. “it’s still a boy, right?”.. “is the baby alright?”.. “jari2 dia cukup tak?”..”jari2 dia lawa tak?”.. OH-kay, enough of crazy me.

So that’s basically the story of how our son was born. Nothing out of the ordinary, though personally, I think every delivery is a miracle in itself. But I have to say, having given birth both vaginally and C-section, I think the latter is slightly more painful. At least when it comes to taking care of myself during confinement. Think I’ll write more on that in another entry, hehe..

Welcome to the world, Rayyan!