It has been a chinese tradition that mums would need to go through a mandatory 28 days of confinement after the delivery of their baby. Confinement is a period where the mum stays home to recuperate from giving birth as well as to establish her breastfeeding / general baby routine and bond with the newborn. During this time, it is believed that the mum has a very cold constitution and needs to consume a lot of heaty food to warm the body and drive out wind from the tummy.
So, I was toggling with the decision of whether to engage a confinement lady (CL). One would cost $2200 with a registered agency and a freelance CL would cost from $2500 to $3000+. As compared to just ordering confinement tingkat, that would cost us almost $2000 for 28 days of lunches and dinners. Hmm, to get more live-in help at a couple hundred of dollars more, why not?? Besides, I’ve J1 to care for as well.
After much deliberation, we decided to go with a CL under PEM Confinement Agency. I requested for a particular CL that a friend recommended and had to fork out $200 more for the booking fee. That brought the cost to $2400.
Fast forward months ahead, and there I was, at TMC, having given birth to J2. Called the agency to inform them of my delivery but the CL I reserved was unable to do confinement for me due to my early delivery, 3 weeks before edd. So, I had a replacement nanny and the booking fee was cancelled.
Replacement nanny reported to work the following day. As the days of confinement passed, I somehow began to think less of the need for a CL. Why do I say so? I felt that with or without her presence, life would be status quo for me. Firstly, I did not want to bathe in herbal water. Without a CL, the electric water heater could do the trick. Secondly, I was doing total breastfeeding. There was absolutely little or no need to do much sterilizing, which in itself takes less than 15s to do. Thirdly, CL does not take care of my elder son, who is home from childcare around 6.30pm. This would mean having to get him to bathe (if my hubby isn’t around, aka touching tap water), getting him to finish dinner, tuck him in bed, etc… Oh, did I mention having to breastfeed J2 while getting J1 to eat during my dinner??? CL simply steps aside to have her dinner in peace while I transform into a multitasker. See, I really didn’t need any live in help. Back to touching tap water, it was something I had to touch anyway: washing J1 up after he did his big business. I figured that this taboo had to be flouted and as long as I kept my hands wiped dry after that, it would be fine. Fourthly and finally, we could save on the utilities of an additional person staying in the house with the privacy we needed since we don’t really require much of her help.
Well, having said these, that is, if we are ever blessed with a third child, we wouldn’t be getting a confinement lady. Perhaps a live-in maid who can do the cooking, chores and take care of the two elder children.