Home » Confinement Soups

Confinement Soups

Confinement is a traditional practice of postpartum care given to mothers after the birth of a new baby.  Many cultures in Asia believe that during the month immediately following the birth of a child, new mothers are prone to certain ailments and must be given special care to ensure a full recovery.

Part of the recovery process is, of course, preparing special nutritious and delicious  confinement soups (or see below for the complete list) with specific ingredients to aid the healing process and prevent future health issues.   Specifically, “heaty” or “hot” foods are encouraged and also soups to prevent or reduce “wind” in the body.  Certain soups are also given to encourage increased milk production so mothers can more easily feed their babies.

You can follow a few of our stories for more details.

Baby Lauren: Confinement Story #6

Baby Ashley: Confinement Story #7

Baby Lucas (TBC): Confinement Story #8 (To be released January 2014)


Below are a list of ingredients typically used in confinement soups and their special restorative and preventative properties.

List of confinement soup ingredients

Codonopsis Pilosula Root

The root of the codonopsis pilosula plant, also known as poor man’s ginseng, is known for many health benefits.   During the postpartum period, it is used as a blood tonic to nourish the blood and to improve uterine function.

Chinese Angelica Root

Similar to most confinement ingredients, chinese angelica root (dang gui) is “heaty”.   It is a very common ingredient in most confinement recipes due to it’s qualities as a uterine and blood tonic.


Ginger is a very “heaty” food.    In particular, old ginger is used when making several confinement soups and dishes, and even for bathing!


Longan is a very heaty fruit.   Specifically, dried longans are used in confinement soups to aid relaxation and as a sleep aid.   They also give soups a tasty natural sweetness.


Protein is considered of vital importance during the confinement period.   Meats permitted (and even encouraged) include chicken (black preferred), fish, and pork.   When making confinement soups, use one of these meats as your base broth flavour.   Beef, duck and seafood are to be avoided.   Boiled eggs are also a popular confinement meat and can taste especially delicious when boiled directly in your soup.


Black and/or white pepper is liberally added to some soups to drive the extra “wind” out from the body.    Confinement soups can be spicy!

Red Dates

Dried red dates are believed to nourish the blood.   They are also a great natural sweetener.   They may be eaten along with the soup.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is mainly used in confinement recipes for its “heaty” nature.   It is also known as an energy rejuvenator.


Dried wolfberries are very popular in Chinese soups due to their many positive properties.   In the West, they are said to be high in antioxidants.   In the East, Chinese and other Asians really enjoy drinking soups and teas made with this ingredient because they believe wolfberries nourish the “Yin’, enhance the “Chi” and tonify the blood.   It is also thought to help eliminate fatigue.

List of confinement soups

Abalone in Chicken Soup
Apple and Corn in Chicken Soup

Black Beans, Rice and Ginger Tea
Black Beans Herbal Soup
Chicken Herbal Soup (Concentrated version – less water, more herbs or double-boil it)
Deer Antler Healing Soup
Fish Maw with Seabed Coconut and Pork Bones
Green Papaya, Fish & Dried Octopus Soup
Herbal Pork Soup with Longans (and Ginger)
Longan Meat in Turtle Soup
Orange Vegetable Fish Soup
Papaya and Corn with Yam in Pork Broth
Papaya Fish Soup
Pig’s Feet with Ginger in Black Vinegar
Red Dates Tea
Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup Dessert
Tomato Fish Soup
Tomato Fish Soup with Tofu
Turtle with Lean Pork Soup
Winter Chicken Soup
Wood Ear & Red Dates Tea
Worm Grass and Chicken Soup


  • Tee Wai says:

    Hi! Can I use Olive Oil for cooking during confinement month? Thanks in advance!

  • LadyTong says:

    I haven’t heard anything about olive oil one way or the other. I think I consumed both olive oil and canola oil (in small doses) during my confinement. However, I wasn’t very strict during my own confinement period.

    Sesame oil is recommended for its heaty properties, used to suppress “wind” in the body. It is possible to cook with sesame oil, although the flavour is quite intense (and may overpower your food). Hope that helps!


  • Claire Zapico says:

    Hi during my confinement my mother in law fed me with pigeon at least twice a day and pork knuckles cooked in 1kg. of ginger do you have a recipe for this?


  • LadyTong says:

    Pork knuckles in vinegar is a very common recipe for confinement – my mother made that for me too! Will ask my mother for the recipe, but I know it’s not the easiest thing to make 😛 Lisa

  • Kipper says:

    Great website. This totally inspires me to make different types of soups. Luckily this time around for me it’s not winter for my 2nd child. I am not confined to be at home. Thanks for creating this site!

  • Bea says:

    Do you know of any recipes for soups to reduce heat In the body post confinement? I had my baby in August, I’m still breastfeeding, but I’m feeling a little too much heat in my body! Love your site, keep up the great info!

  • Paulina says:

    Hi, I have a friend who just had her thyroid removed due to a cancerous growth and I want to recommend her some soup to cook? I was going ask her to try the fish soup but is there a better option for her? She has not undergone any cancer treatment yet. Thanks!

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Paulina,
    Herbal chicken soups are great for post surgeries. Try: http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chicken-herbal-soup/ and http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/worm-grass-chickensoup/
    It’s also recommended to do more “warm” soups rather than “cool” soups – fish soup is also a very excellent idea. It’s neutral and nutritious at the same time. I think in general, try soups with a heavy base of nutrients (both meats and vegetables) so that all this nutritious goodness can be boiled into the soup rather than “eaten”. Hope this helps!

  • Ivee says:

    Do you ladies know where to get pigeon in singapore? they all told me it is not sold here…. was even looking for a restaurant who cooks it! :)


  • Ana says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    I love reading through all the various types of soups. I have yet to try them though. Since I live in Toronto, some ingredients are hard to find, like the soft shell turtles.

    Keep up the great work! :)

  • Stella says:

    Can you share the recipe for Chinese Red Date tea (jujube) that women usually drink after giving birth? I know it’s not soup, but I thought it is relevant with the topic of confinement month. Many thanks in advance :-)

  • Claire Anne Zapico says:

    Just want to ask if you have any soup that can take away the air in the stomach? I feel so bloated lately due to the air in my stomach. In addition do you also have a soup that can eliminate fats in the body? thanks and God bless…


  • Mummy B says:

    read dates+kei chi+dong sum is good for pregnancy drink too

  • Suzy W says:

    My Neighbor just gave birth, I wanted to bring her something for the family but she told us that she is on a confinment diet , Is only the family aloud to bring meals to the new mother , I would love to bring her some of these soups. I will also be trying so I have a thyroid problem that I want to regulate with Diet , Thanks for sharing

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Suzy,
    No, in fact, anyone can bring food for the new mother. There is no rule about this. I think it’s rather nice that someone would do that for a confinement mother! Just let them know what ingredients you’ve put in, in case the mother is weary, but in general, I think it’s wonderful! G’luck! Lisa

  • Audrey says:

    Hi, I would like to breastfeed my baby, but a friend says I have to avoid ginger and DOM during confinement. She says the ginger will cause jaundice or worsen it. But I know ginger is very important in confinement foods. What am I to do? Thanks!

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Audrey,

    Wait a few days after birth of baby. If jaundice shows, it shows at the beginning. But once you get liquids through the liver, it should go away. Refer to articles on google regarding the cause of jaundice. Ginger is OK for consumption, so go with the ginger as that helps heal your body. Hope this helps and thanks! Lisa

  • Sally says:

    Hi there,
    Are there any good soups that expel dampness but not cooling?
    And any that expel dampness okay to consume during pregnancy?

  • Claire Anne Zapico says:

    just had my second baby, just finished my confinement. I would like to ask if you have used deer antlers in one of your soups? My mother in law gave me some when she went home from china and i have no idea on how to cook it. She told me that i can still consume it since there is still a three month period of expelling the air in the body. Please share if you have any recipe for this and notify me through my email. thanks and God bless


  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Claire,

    Try this recipe: http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/confinement-deer-antler-healing-soup/

    It’s considered a heaty ingredient to help heal the the body and yes, you can theoretically consume it any time when you need “warmth”. Double-boiling it will really help make this soup rich and condensed. Hope this helps and all the best! Lisa

  • Tangerine says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for all the information you share on your website. It’s helped a lot!

    During the confinement period, can you eat green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, or snow pea tips?

    Also, could you drink milk during this period?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Janet says:

    For confinement meals, other than using DOM. Is brandy needed?
    Or DOM is sufficient? pls advise. thanks

  • Ha says:

    I just had a miscarriage 3 weeks ago, wonder what soup will help me recover and be ready for next pregnancy? Thanks heaps!

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Ha,

    This one should do the job: http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/worm-grass-chickensoup/ (Worm Grass and Chicken Soup). Be sure to double-boil. Enjoy!


  • Arlene says:

    Hi. Thanks a lot for sharing. It becomes my bible when I am alone in HKG. Just a simple question, can I cook confinement soup during pregnancy. Thanks again

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Arlene, absolutely! You can actually make the soup base (condensed chicken stock) and freeze. Then when you need soup, just take it out, add fresh veggies and boil. Or conversely, you can store it with the veggies ahead of time and just thaw in a pot. Hope this helps and all the best! Lisa

  • Arlene says:

    Hi again…
    That’s really a good idea to freeze the soup base. :)
    Actually, I was asking if the confinement soup ingredients are suitable for pregnant ladies. I am thinking to perfect my confinement soup cooking while still pregnant. :)
    Thanks again

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Arlene,
    Absolutely! Most confinement soups are “warm” based, so perfectly safe for you to drink. The only thing may be to not drink the very “potent” ones as it may too rich for your baby. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • Ha says:

    Thank you! I’ll sure give it a try:)

  • Yvonne says:

    Hi, may I ask if crocodile soup is suitable for moms who have just given birth?

  • Helen says:

    Hello. I am going into my third week after the birth of my baby. I am concerned that I am too ‘heaty’ and I am concerned the baby is starting to as we’ll, since I breastfeed and he is starting to get little dots on his face. What soups or food would you recommend to avoid getting too much ‘heat’ ? Thanks for your help

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Helen, go with neutral soups. Fish soups are always best for breastfeeding and aren’t too heaty. You can put an assortment of veggies (avoid the cooler ones though since you’re theoretically still in your one month confinement), but carrots, corn, onions, tomatoes are OK. You can add a few dried dragon eyes and scallops to enhance flavor. I’ve heard though, that post partum women can’t get overheaty. This is according to my local herbalist. You have one more week, so ride it though as it will benefit your overall health for the rest of your life. Hope this helps and g’luck! Lisa

  • mummytey says:

    hi,is it ok to drink everyday for 2meals during confinement?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear mummytey, you mean drink confinement soups everyday? During all me and sisters’ confinements, we drank every soup on the menu practically as much as possible. There would be 2 soups per meal, one heavy double-boiled chicken soup and/or fish and papaya soup (which was staple) or some other soup. We were heavily souped. Hope this helps and answers your questions. If not, please let me know. Lisa

  • Jamie says:


    Thanks for all the great information! Was wondering if the confinement soups can be made ahead of time and frozen- mainly, the chicken herbal soup, papaya fish soup, and pigs feet soup. Thanks!

  • Maria says:

    For vegans (because of food allergies), can I substitute meats with beans or tofu? Also, can I use vegetable broth?

  • Jasmine says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    I’ve read that pork liver soup makes the milk less of you drink it. Is this true?

  • Nejay says:

    I am not of Asian descendant but can I request a restaurant to make these soups for me prior to my delivery. I do not have any close Chinese friends but would love to have these soups postpartum…what would you suggests?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Nejay, what country are you in? There are definitely services in Asia and the US that can provide confinement food delivered to your house (varying costs depending on ingredients). Or, you can have a confinement lady come to your house and make food / soups for you as well. Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Jasmine, that’s an interesting one that I’ve not heard of before! Sorry I can’t be of more help in validating or not. Are you looking to stop or slow milk flow? Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Maria, vegetable broth will give you more flavours, however not everything can be directly substituted with beans or tofu. For confinement soups, tofu is considered a cooling food (which means it’s not ideal for confinement as the idea is to keep the body warm). Ideally, maybe stick with vegetarian broth or load up on the vegetables and herbs. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • Helen says:

    Any soups for after miscarriage?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Helen, I’d use the same soups as postpartum. They serve similar purposes: Healing, warming, blood providing, not cooling, strengthening. There is one though that comes to mind: http://www.thechinesesouplady.com/worm-grass-chickensoup/. Do double boil it for increased potency. This one was used for post op of a miscarriage. Hope it helps! Lisa

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