"Oh wow! Congratulations! You are expecting!"
These sweet words are the start of a nine-month flurry of activities, from setting up baby’s new room, telling the family the good news, deciding on the baby shower, finding out how to eat well during pregnancy, if you should sign up to baby Mozart classes, and perhaps even pregnancy yoga, breathing classes, reading books about parenting, and names, what name should you be calling baby, oh, wait, you don’t even know the baby’s gender yet. And what about the delivery? Where should you deliver, in a traditional hospital, or how about an all natural water birth, should you stick to your current gynae? So many things to do and so little time!
But in the midst of the flurry of activity, don’t forget the post delivery! The confinement month, typically signals the end of the pregnancy sprint of activities and the beginning of the wonderful marathon of raising a child. And as many marathon runners would tell you, it's important to start the marathon right! The confinement period post pregnancy typically lasts for 30 to 45 days, and during this period, mum takes time to recover from delivery, the family adjusts to the new addition(s) and baby prepares for an amazing journey ahead.
Typically, during confinement month, mom recovers her strength through a strict diet and lifestyle routine, which finds its roots in age-old wisdom passed down through generations of women. Key points to observe for mom include:
- Eating well, and from a strict repertoire of recipes which usually includes lots of ginger
- Keeping warm, that means no air-con and fans blowing at you for the whole confinement period
- Not drinking water, but drinking instead, a special dried longan tea brew
- Keeping the “dampness” out, that means no bathing nor hair washing for the whole period
- Keeping stable emotions, which means no watching dramas and movies
- Resting well, which means dad does everything (lol), or at least with the help of mum, nanny and helper
During the confinement month too, the new parents often needs to learn how to take care of their little bundle and key skills to acquire include:
- Learning how to bath baby in the right way and to keep baby clean and comfortable (nappy rash be-gone!)
- The best way of feeding and carrying baby
- Taking care of baby’s umbilical cord
- Managing baby's temperament
- Identifying baby's discomfort during the day or night
- Paying attention to baby's nutritional needs
Weighing the Pros and Cons
So it seems that the confinement month is super important for the family. So how do you exactly prepare for confinement month? Well, typically, there are 5 options:
- Not observing confinement month
- Hiring part time help
- Getting Mom or Mom-in-Law’s help
- Hiring a confinement nanny
There are pros and cons for each option of course, and these considerations are usually:
Staying at home for a whole month can be a costly consideration for many families. Working mothers of Singaporean babies have their incomes covered by the state for up to 16 weeks. However, costs can add up, especially if you are thinking of hiring a confinement nanny. Experienced nannies can cost up to SGD4000/month, especially if they are stay in nannies.
Many nuclear families enjoy their privacy. Having a new addition to the family is life changing enough, and many couples actually find it more stressful having mom come over so regularly, or a stranger like a confinement nanny in the home.
Couples who are from different cultural backgrounds, or for ladies who have been brought up in an environment where their friends and families have not observed the traditional ways of the confinement month, might feel the confinement month not necessary. Indeed, I have had friends who went back to work, and their yogas classes, just days after their delivery. They are mindful however, of keeping and eating well.
Families who have had children before, might feel that they have been through the “routine” and might not need as much guidance as a first time mom. They might instead, have a part time nanny or helper come in as and when they need an extra pair of hands.
There aren’t many things that can compare to the unconditional love that grandma gives! And indeed, many of my friends choose to have their mums and mums-in-law help out during their confinement month. However, for some, having mum come over isn’t as easy as for others. For one, mum could be living across the city or even in another country; she might lack the stamina to carry out a full month’s worth of duty; or she might be busy with other concerns such as looking after another loved one. In such cases, getting additional help in the form of a confinement nanny or a part time helper might just be the sweet spot.
Are you expecting and considering a pair of extra careful hands to help you out during your confinement month? CaregiverAsia has over 150 experienced, caring and wonderful nannies for you to choose from! Click below to book.
The Options - Analyzed
Taking all these into consideration, which option should you pick then, for a confinement month that works for you?
Option 1: Not Observing Confinement Month (A.K.A. Don’t Do!)
If you are big on cost effectiveness, privacy and just really don’t buy into that whole confinement month thing (What! No bathing for a month!), you don’t really need to observe it in a traditional way. I have many friends, particularly those who live in countries in the West, who did not observe the traditional confinement month. Some did not as they could not access confinement resources from Asia, while others did not as their families did not believe in it. My friends and their children are as healthy and happy as the ones who did it. But of course, no one is blaming the headaches and tummyaches that the mums sometimes get in cold weather on the “dampness” that never got expelled from their bodies. ;-) Having said this, it is best if you continue to eat healthily, exercise in moderation, and watch out for post partum blues. Mayo Clinic and WomensHealth are two great online resources to find out what to expect post pregnancy and how to get back into pre-pregnancy shape.
Option 2: Hiring Part Time Help
If you want a “middle of the road” option, where you would still like to follow traditional confinement practices, and to maintain privacy at home; hiring a part time caregiver during your confinement month is a very good alternative. There are many caregivers out there with experience in midwifery, pediatric nursing, house cleaning, cooking, that would be happy to lend you a hand during your confinement month. If your mum is also helping you, these caregivers can also stand in for your mum, should she need some time off. If you are choosing to DIY your confinement month, you could also look for a new parents coach, who would be on hand to guide you for the first few days of your new journey with baby.
Option 3: DIY!
A super modern option for experienced parents, or even the well researched first time parents, DIY confinement is becoming a popular option. This is a great option for parents who want to choose which practices to follow, and there are some wonderful suppliers who could provide you some conveniences. Examples include pre-packed herbal tonics and packaged TCM sessions. A downside to this, is that plenty of research needs to be done before the confinement period starts, it might prove to be expensive, and there could be a process of trial and error before deciding on which suppliers to purchase from.
Option 4: Mum and Mum-In-Law
The preferred choice of most ladies, is to have mum or mum-in-law (preferably not both at the same time!) assist with baby during confinement. I know that this was the way my own mother did hers, and whilst I was taken care of really well (grandma’s the best!), I know my mum still cringes at the sight of any dishes that vaguely resembles confinement food, 40 years after having me. That was how bad my grandma’s cooking was. The reality with having your mum help you with your confinement is that you can’t really complain, if the food is bad, or if you need more TLC. Mum’s mum. Fullstop. Also, I know for many, it’s also the nagging guilty feeling at the back of their minds that mum’s old now, and should they be making mum do all these confinement chores. Perhaps a good option, is to get in part time help, as a backup to when mum’s feeling tired, or when you need a really yummy dinner. ;-)
Option 5: Confinement Nanny in Singapore
Perhaps the Rolls Royce of all choices, would be to hire a confinement nanny for the whole period of your confinement! Imagine, a person there to pamper you, cook for you, take care of your baby when you need a rest, and a steady guide to all things baby, 24/7! Should privacy and cost not be an issue, this is an option that many ladies take. Typically, the process of looking for a confinement lady is by word of mouth, and the popular ones could be booked up to a year ahead! Costs range between SGD2500 to SGD4000, depending on the popularity/ experience of the nanny and the period you need her. For ladies having their confinement during the first month of the lunar calendar, the cost can double! There are services out there now, where mums can browse, read reviews, interview and book their future nannies online. Here's some resources to get you started.
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