Cutting a branch of the Jarak Pagar Plant
Getting lengkuas leaves
Last Friday Puan Hajjah Zamrudah's sister came and visited her here in Seri Manjung. At that time she was heavily pregnant but not due to deliver yet. However, on Friday morning she began to have labour pains and was sent to hospital. Puan Zamrudah told me that they were hoping that the baby would be born on 08.08.08 but that was not to be. The baby only decided to make an appearance on 09.08.08. By the way, the Chinese also consider 9 an auspicious number. It symbolises longevity.
This morning, Puan Hajjah Zamrudah went to the Taman Herba or Herb Garden to get some leaves to be used to get rid of "wind" for her sister who is in confinement in her house. The Malays and also the Peranakan Chinese would heat an oval shaped stone (the size of about two fists joined together) taken from the river and then wrap it with the leaves of either the mengkudu plant or the lengkuas plant to help draw the wind from the lady who has just given birth. The leaves from the jarak pagar plant can also be used. You can use one type of leaf to wrap the heated stone or all the three types of leaves together. This process is called "tungku" in Malay.
For your information, an iron bar is sometimes used in place of the stone. The heated stone wrapped in the leaves will then be compressed on to the lower abdominal area until the stone is cold. For a natural birth, this procedure will be done about three days after delivery. It should be done daily throughout the confinement period. This is followed by a herbal massage by the midwife or bidan.