Pregnancy and childbirth may be beautifully fulfilling experiences, but they are definitely not easy! Every woman needs some time to recover afterwards. Some women also need a little extra help and support as they adjust to their new roles as mothers. One of the ways to achieve this is through confinement.
Confinement is a very important traditional post-natal practice that many Asian women choose to go through after giving birth. It is popular in countries like Malaysia, China, and India. New mothers go into confinement as a sign of respect for tradition, where they follow a number of rules, daily routines, and dietary prohibitions.
Confinement periods can last anywhere from 28 to 40 days from your baby’s birth. Different cultures will also have different confinement practices. However, among all of them, the end goal is the same: to support you as a new mother by allowing you a special period of recovery to help your body recuperate from childbirth.
Confinement is also designed to help women, especially first-time mums, to adjust into motherhood. Traditionally, your mother (or mother-in-law) would be in charge of your confinement care, and with the help of a confinement lady (called pui yuet), they’d care for you and your little one.
Today, you have the option of checking yourself into a confinement centre or staying at home.
Confinement centres are businesses that provide lodging, meals, and personalized care for you and your little one with the help of confinement ladies and other support staff like nurses and midwives.
If you choose to stay at home, you can decide not to get any outside help and only rely on your partner and a few friends or family. You can also decide to have a confinement lady come and stay with you, or go for a part-time daytime-only confinement lady.
You can also choose to register with your nearest public hospital before your delivery date and have a nurse visit you at home on certain days after birth. Typically, there’ll be a nurse visit on day 1 to 4, then days 6, 8, 10, 15, and 20 after delivery to monitor how you and your baby are doing. The Ministry of Health in Malaysia provides these post-natal care home visits by public health-care nurses for free.
Malaysian confinement care also often includes massages. These can be administered by your confinement lady or in your confinement centre of choice.
Your budget will vary depending on the service you chose to go for. Here are the average fees you can expect to pay:
- Confinement lady services: RM 5500 for 30 days live-in or RM 4500 for 30 days part-time
- Confinement centre fees: Varies depending on the centre. On average, expect to pay between RM 10000 to RM 50,000 for 30 days
Confinement services are usually in very high demand. Therefore, no matter what options you choose to go for, you need to start planning for it early and book early. For the best results, be sure to book your place no later than the first week of your second trimester.
You can choose to get a live-in or visiting confinement lady. This is a great option if you prefer to stay in your own home and not be away from your partner for too long by going to a confinement centre. Live-in confinement ladies move in with you for your confinement period while visiting confinement ladies will only come over to help you on a part-time basis.
Before choosing your confinement lady, you want to make sure that you interview them first before inviting them into your home. The interview can be conducted either face to face or via phone. You can get some guidance from experienced parents as well as reviews from their past customers before hiring them.
Traditionally, here are some of the things you can expect your confinement lady to do for you:
- Help you bath and massage your baby daily
- Help you feed the baby.
- Cook the special confinement dishes
- Take care of a few basic house chores like cleaning and washing you and your baby’s clothes
- Assist you in your recovery journey after childbirth by offering tips and pointers
- Help you adjust into motherhood by guiding you on what to do and not to do, as well as showing you how to properly care for a newborn
- Offer general care for the baby so you can get some rest, for example by entertaining them, swaddling them, and putting them to sleep
- Offer emotional support by constantly being there with you and talking you through any issues you might be dealing with
- They may also give you daily massages to help you de-stress and relieve any soreness in your muscles
How to choose the best confinement lady
- Start your search early, from at least the first month of your second trimester
- Try to get a highly recommended confinement lady. Word of mouth is your best bet
- If you have older kids, confirm that she can keep an eye on them, too
- Make sure that both your expectations and hers are in sync. Brief her of what you expect from her and let her tell you what she expects from you
- Confirm that she is available on your due date then pay her deposit
- Before she comes over, get a list of all the things she will need so you can arrange to get them
Questions to ask before hiring a confinement lady
- How strict or flexible are you when it comes to confinement traditions?
- How much experience do you have as a confinement lady?
- Do you have proper first-aid training?
- What kind of confinement meals can you cook well?
- What is your daily routine and schedule?
- What type of household chores do you do?
- Do you offer post-natal massages?
- Are you willing to take care of the baby at night?
- What are your expectations from us?
- Would you prefer a part-time arrangement or a live-in arrangement?
- What is the notice period you need before joining us?
- How much do you expect to be paid for this job?
- Do you require a deposit?
- What method of payment do you prefer?
- Are there any other fees you expect from us apart from your salary?
- What day of the week do you prefer to have your day off?
- Will you be able to get back on short notice?
- How do you deal with specific problems or disputes with clients as you do your job?
- If we need you for a longer period of time after the confinement period is over, can you stay?
Having a confinement lady to help guide you into motherhood can be a huge help. They’ll make things a lot easier for you especially if you are a first-time mum.
Confinement centres have become more and more popular in Malaysia. Some of these centres go above and beyond to provide extremely high-quality specialized care. You can expect a healthy mix of traditional confinement practices and modern post-natal care interventions like parenting classes, breastfeeding support, and postnatal yoga.
Confinement centres are a great choice if you are looking for convenience and round the clock care. In most centres, you will find that everything is provided for; from diapers to baby products to swaddles and baby clothes. You can simply just walk in with a small bag with your own personal belongings and your baby on one hand and you’ll be good to go!
The best confinement centres also employ fully trained nurses. If you or your baby have any complications during that first month, you can rest easy knowing that you are in good hands. There are also in-house midwives and child-care specialists, all there to serve you.
You get access to specialized fully kitted rooms, professionally cooked meals that follow a carefully planned diet, workshop sessions, spas, and massage sessions. They are also a great way to meet and connect with other new mummies.
The best way to choose the best confinement center for you is to create a list of potential centres that you would like to go to, then visit them to see first-hand what they have to offer. Most reputable centres give guided tours of their facilities to potential clients. Reviews from past clients will also give you some insight on the quality of their services.
At the end of the day, the decision of whether or not to go into confinement is a deeply personal one. There is nothing wrong with doing it, and it is actually becoming quite a popular practice with many modern women in Malaysia. You just have to make sure that the confinement practices you opt to go for are safe for you and your little one, and that you do not end up missing out on some essential nutritional requirements by following some practices. If you are in any doubt about anything, be sure to consult your doctor about it.
The best solution for you should be one that feels comfortable and natural. Don’t feel pressured to do anything that will only end up making you feel more stressed. If you think confinement is too restrictive or old-fashioned, prioritize your comfort by doing what makes sense for you. You are entering a fantastic new phase of your life, and nothing should stand in the way of you bonding with your little one.