Chinese Confinements Are Costlier Than You Think
Many Malaysian-Chinese women practise the post-natal confinement, in which new mothers spend 28 days after childbirth confined to their homes in order to rest and recuperate from the rigours of childbirth.
Many hire a confinement nanny as part of the ritual. These nannies, typically an older woman, are usually not formally qualified, but are experienced in caring for the special needs of a new mother and her baby according to traditional confinement practices.
These days, new mothers also have the option of enrolling in a confinement centre, which typically offers care and wellness packages for both mother and child.
Read on to find out more about the difference in cost and services between hiring a confinement nanny and signing up with a confinement centre.
Confinement nanny costs and services
Traditionally, a confinement nanny’s duties include:
- Bathing baby daily.
- Feeding baby (once breastfeeding has been established, the new mother can express breastmilk so that the nanny can take over one or more night feeds).
- Caring for the baby in general so that the new mother can rest.
- Cooking special confinement dishes such as traditional soups and broths that are considered “extra-nutritious” to nourish a new mother. Depending on the size of a household (especially if it is a small family of just husband and wife), it is not unreasonable to ask the nanny to cook all the regular meals.
As they will usually live with you throughout the confinement period, some confinement nannies will be able to help around with some light housework. However, few confinement nannies nowadays are expected to do household chores.
They do not come for cheap, charging between RM3,700 and RM4,500, depending on how “popular” they are. This excludes the obligatory “angpow” of between RM200 and RM500 that you will have to fork out.
For mothers-to-be who intend to hire a confinement lady, getting recommendations from your family and friends, or through word-of-mouth would be your best bet. You may need to start booking for a confinement lady as early as your first trimester as popular ones often get snapped up like hotcakes.
You can also go through a confinement nanny agency, which are becoming increasingly popular in the Klang Valley. These agencies typically retain a roster of trained and experienced confinement ladies who will be assigned to you based on their availability during your postnatal period.
The advantage of using an agency is that you are guaranteed to get a nanny when you need one. The disadvantage is you may not be able to pick the nanny of your choice, and she may not live up to your expectations.
However, due to the growing scarcity of confinement nannies (already a dying tradition) and living space constraints, engaging a stay-at-home confinement nanny is becoming increasingly difficult. Many mothers are turning to confinement centres stay-ins as a result.
Confinement centres cost and services
Confinement centres offer care packages in which a mother and her baby’s needs are fully taken care of. These facilities have been growing in numbers and are mainly found in the Klang Valley and cities like Penang, Malacca and Johor Bahru.
Most confinement centres offer a minimum stay of 28 days (with the option to extend) and should cover most of the basics:
- Accommodation for mummy and baby (private or shared room)
- Support staff (confinement nanny or a nurse) to care for baby 24 hours a day
- All meals, including special confinement fare like herbal soups and drinks
- Laundry services
- Confinement products like dry shampoo and herbs
- Baby products like nappies and baby shampoo
Of course, the actual list of services offered will differ from centre-to-centre. Different centres also come with different policies, and pricing for the essentials, as well as other add-ons like massage services. You will need to work out the type of services you actually require (or desire) before you sign up with one of these centres.
Size also matters. Twin-sharing rooms can cost you from RM6,000 to RM6,500, while a single-room can easily cost RM7,000 to over RM9,000.
Meanwhile, luxury or deluxe rooms would cost roughly RM10,000 and above. A private suite could cost up between RM12,000 and RM15,000.
Some centres offer light activities such as cooking classes and yoga sessions for new mums.
Although younger mums may find some of these nannies to be old-fashioned in their approach, especially with the do’s and don’ts of the postpartum period (which sometimes include not washing your hair and avoiding cold foods), they can be helpful to a first-time mother who may not be familiar with the various aspects of caring for a newborn.