Chinese mothers will undergo a one month period known as the confinement period. During this month, the new mother will have to eat certain nutritious food to renourish the body. This period is also known as confinement because there are a lot of do's and don'ts. For those who are NOT so lucky enough to have their mother or mother-in-laws to help out, we would have to hire a `Confinement Lady'. A confinement lady is normally a lady in the age range of late forties to early fifties, experienced in handling new infants, a knowledge of what a new mother would need and what the mother is not supposed to do.
Their duties include cooking for the mother and taking care of the baby for the next 28 to 30 days.
Finding a confinement lady is always a concern and finding a good and understanding confinement lady is like looking for treasure. Most of the time, finding a confinement lady is through word of mouth recommendation although there are several agencies that are also offering confinement services.
A common problem that I hear are problems between the confinement lady with the older folks at home (especially the mother or mother-in-law) due to difference in opinion on how the baby should be looked after, what food is cooked, how they are cooked and what the mother can do or can't do. For a young mother who has just given birth, with the additional stress of a new baby, this could be an extremely challenging time. So, an understanding husband to act as a go between would really be useful.
Another common problem would be between the confinement lady and the live-in maid. Again, the right expectation must be set from the very beginning for both the confinement lady and the maid as to their responsibilities, duties and line of reporting. Yes, you hear me right. Otherwise, you would end up with the confinement lady giving orders around the house or the maid getting lazy because she thinks that there is another MAID at home and start barking instructions. The last thing you want to do is to irritate the confinement lady when you need her most.
Start sourcing for a confinement lady the moment you realised that you are expecting. That way, it would less stressful to you as the delivery date draws near. (We were really stressed because we found our replacement one day before my wife's delivery. Talk about last minute arrangement)
The market value for a live-in confinement lady would be RM2900 to RM3000 for a period of 28 to 30 days. But, if you happen to deliver your baby in the month of the Chinese Lunar New Year, be prepared to pay double. It can be a costly affair! Besides, there are not many confinement ladies out there who are willing to work during this period.
Hence, time and plan your pregnancy! If the Chinese New Year the following year falls between the end of January and early February, you should know what to do.....
(Having a pre-mature baby is another story.....)