Having a baby is arguably one of the biggest life changing event in someone’s life. From pre-pregnancy to post-pregnancy, there are so many things to prepare for, advice to follow and precautions to take.
One of the most important advice was given to me by my mother.
It was to get a confinement lady to help me through this challenging period post pregnancy, when one was supposed to recover and at the same time learn the ropes of taking care of a new baby.
Like an actual human being who is new to the world. Probably a fussy one at that.
“You must get a confinement lady to help you,” she said.
I have my reservations.
Do I really now?
I would like to think myself young, independent and not exactly super traditional.
Confinement literally means being confined to one’s house (or even room) post pregnancy. It is part of the Chinese culture to ensure that the new mom gets enough rest required for a speedy recovery and not expose themselves to “wind” which could lead to muscle and bone aches when they are older.
One can get “wind” from leaving her hair wet, eating a particular type of food or exposing her body to windy/cold atmosphere. These are just a few general examples.
Must I really not wash my hair for 30 days? Stay in the house for a month without going out? Eat the same wine-chicken dish everyday?
How is it possible to follow these restrictions and take care of my newborn at the same time?
That is when the confinement lady comes in.
There is no set job description for a confinement lady, but the general expectation is for them to look after the new mom and baby. This includes washing, cooking, bathing etc and will vary depending on the mother’s preferences and what the confinement lady is willing to do.
That sounds helpful, yes.
But, as all Asian families do, both my parents are flying over from Malaysia to Australia to help me post delivery.
Aren’t my parents enough then? Why must I hire someone else to look after me? What if the confinement lady and I don’t get along? Worst still, what if she is a Nazi and forces me to practice all her confinement beliefs?
I was hesitant. And still stubborn about maintaining my independence post delivery.
I started speaking friends who have had kids. They agreed that I should accept all the help that I can get.
In the end, towards the 5th-6th month of my pregnancy (which is very late – the good confinement ladies are highly demanded and would not be available at such late notice), I booked in for a confinement lady to help me for 6 weeks.
I still wasn’t 100% sure then.
But now, 6.5 weeks after my delivery, I can see the wisdom behind my mom’s advice.
Having a confinement lady’s help was invaluable not only to me, but to my hubby and sister in law too (SIL is living with us currently) as they get to enjoy the delicious meals that she cooked for us.
All my initial worries were unwarranted.
I washed my hair after Day 4 and had normal yummy meals as confinement food. My favorite confinement dish was homemade chicken essence with steamed D.O.M, yums!
My parents came over to help me, but are they going to be “on call” past midnight for my feedings and resettle my baby? Similarly, do I want my parents to cook and clean for baby and I when they don’t do that in their own home (they have help)?
The answer is no. I would probably feel bad and not let them do so.
And no, my confinement lady was not a Nazi and we got along well.
It is expensive flying a confinement lady overseas as usually we have to cover for their flight, accommodation and food.
But having that extra help does make a whole lot of a difference when it came to my baby’s and my well-being. I was able to focus on healing and breastfeeding. I had time for myself.
Most importantly, I did not feel depressed, tired nor cranky. A girlfriend commented that I was looking good and relaxed for someone who just had their baby. And this is mostly thanks to my confinement lady.
So would I get a confinement lady for my second baby? Yes, definitely.
Till next time! xoxo