Tips to doing your own confinement

Monday, September 01, 2014

These days, the most popular question I've gotten from people around me is...

"Is it difficult to do your own confinement? How do you manage two kids?"

To be honest, I personally find it more difficult to be digging out $2,500 - $2,800 for a confinement lady as compared to doing most of the chores by ourselves. After engaging a confinement nanny for two weeks when I delivered Dylan, I realised that they don't really do much to warrant a $2.5K salary.

In the past, confinement nannies have to not only cook, but wash baby's and mother's clothes. She will also have to wake up at night to feed and change the baby while the mummy sleeps. However, in our case, we don't hand wash any of our children's clothes - we actually dump them into the washing machine... oops? Apart from that, because both my kids are solely breastfed at their early ages, I have to wake up every few hours anyway.

As such, my confinement nanny only needs to cook (cost of ingredients not included yet!), bathe and change diapers. Wow. A bit expensive for $2.5K, no?


If you're hoping to do your own confinement, it is actually not that difficult. Here are some of the basic items/people you will need before you even start pushing the baby out:

  • A supportive, hands-on husband + miscellaneous help
Your dependency on a useful husband is very much dependent on how strictly you want to follow the confinement "rules". Of course, the less strict you are, the more you are able to do and therefore the more you will be less dependent on another person.

For Nian, he does most of the things for me - preparing breakfast for Dylan, sending him to & fro toddler care, showering the two kids, doing grocery shopping, folding laundry etc. I'd say that there are nothing much for me to do except changing diapers and feeding Alexis. 

When my right-hand man has to work, my mother-in-law will come by to help me shower the kids. I am most thankful for her being around because when I'm tired, I can go to sleep without worries. I know that both kids are in good care. I don't even sleep that well at night lol.

As for housework, we are also very blessed to find a part-time helper just last month. We pay her $60 for every 4 hours of work and the both of us feel that she is a fast worker and very thorough in cleaning up. With that, I don't need to worry about vacuuming/mopping/changing bedsheets and all these annoying housework anymore.

Bottomline: If your husband cannot take the time out to help you, then you will at least need your mother/mother-in-law/helper to help you. Having a lot of help and support will also keep your spirits up and less chances of slipping into post-natal depression.
  • A trustworthy childcare centre/nanny for your first kid
If you're expecting a second child like us, it is very important to ensure that you have a caregiver for your first child. If s(he) is staying home with you, then make sure that his needs are still being met while you get busy settling down with the second child.

Personally, I am very thankful that we found a toddler care centre that is pretty good and nearby. While I miss my sunshine when he is in "school", I know that it actually benefits all of us because he gets to learn things while he is there and we get sufficient rest in the afternoon while the little girl is asleep.

This is mostly how I get through my nights - by sleeping a lot in the day. Whenever Alexis sleeps, I will sleep. I'll then let Nian sleep through the night. Kinda like he is in the day shift and I'm in the night shift lol.
  • Engage a good confinement tingkat service provider
Previously, I talked about us engaging Natal Essentials as our confinement tingkat service provider so I think it is a good time to be reviewing them, since this is my 3rd week into confinement and we only have 1 more week to go.

We spent about $1,500 for 56 meals over 28 days, which works out to about $27/meal.

I'm just gonna put my reviews in point-form for easy reading. Here goes!

* Lack of variety of vegetables

If you're opting out of livers, kidneys and tripes, then you have to look out because by the second week of your confinement, you will realise that the dishes are beginning to repeat itself at a very regular interval. Some dishes are only served once throughout the entire month though.

My gripe is that they don't have enough variety of vegetables to go through the entire 28 days and it really, really annoys me when I already have Kai Lan with Fish Slices for dinner on Day 2 and I'll have to have it AGAIN for lunch on Day 3. All in all, I have this same thing for 8 meals and every time I have it, I have it for two consecutive days. Urgh.

Kai Lan with Sheng Yu (Fish Slices)
There are 5 variety of vegetables in the menu, which I personally feel is acceptable because they serve about 7 meals with vegetable for a week and the remaining 7 meals are made up of other side dishes like steamed egg, thread fin, pig trotters etc. but I really don't understand why they don't even out the varieties. Doesn't it make sense to do that?

Instead, we get 8 times of Kai Lan with Sheng Yu, 8 times of Snow Peas with Sheng Yu but only 3 times of Egg with Long Beans, Spinach with Ikan Bilis and Broccoli with Chinese Mushrooms each. Now, I see Kai Lan and Snow Peas I want to puke.

* Fish slices not fresh

Initially when we went with Natal Essentials, it was because we learned that they don't use MSG and they use thread fin fish, which if all of you are as auntie as me, will know that they are the most expensive and highest quality fish in the market.

Unfortunately, even though they used the best quality fish, it was not fresh at all. Most of the time the fish I had tasted fishy. Grilled thread fin in my menu also came up to be pan-fried, not grilled. Worse, it was so badly fried that the meat was so tough to bite, the fish died in vain.

* Frog legs were overcooked

Cooking frog legs really require a lot of skills. If it is not cooked thoroughly, you can't bite through the meat. If it is too cooked, the meat becomes tough and it gets stuck in between the gaps of your teeth. And that was what happened.

* Soup was good

Despite having a below-average quality of food, their soups were surprisingly good. There is also a good variety of soup - I had different soup for every meal of the week, which makes it up to 14 different varieties. A vast difference from their veg, isn't it?

* Very early delivery timing

I'm not sure where their central kitchen is, but I personally feel that their dinner always come too early. For lunch, they come between 10.30AM to 11AM, which is acceptable for me because I usually eat by 12PM. However, their dinner can come as early as 4.30PM, which is too early for me because we usually have our dinner at about 7 to 7.30PM. By then, my food is already cold, even though it is stored in a cooler bag.

* Very nice delivery uncles and aunties

I think they have very nice uncles and aunties who deliver their meals! Most of them will come by, say hi and all before leaving. While some will just come, hang the food at the door, ring the doorbell and then go off, I feel that generally their services are quite good.

Will I go back to them again for my next confinement? I'm hoping that I can get my mother-in-law to help us cook (and pay her the $1500!) because I'm sure she will make my meals more appetising. In the event that she won't be able to help us, I may just try out other service providers just to get a comparison. That being said, I think there are not many tingkat service providers providing confinement meals.
  • Prepare the necessities
If you decide to do your own confinement, you must at least do some homework to find out what are some of the stuff you need to purchase. For example, ladies in confinement can only drink longan-red-date tea so you will have to either prepare the necessary ingredients (red dates, dried longans, wolf berries etc) or buy those pre-packed ones. It will be difficult to run out to buy when you are on confinement.

I'm quite lucky that I have some leftover items from my previous confinement so this time, I didn't really purchase much. I actually missed out the showering herbs during the prep but luckily Dblchin was placing orders for her own confinement so she jio me along to see if there were anything I needed to buy.

The both of us in early June when we were probably 30 weeks pregnant!

Through her, I knew about Mummamia, which is essentially a one-stop online store that sells everything a mother will need for DIY confinement. You can buy their pre-packed confinement herbs that goes up to 40-days and all sorts of Chinese herbal thingmajig that may be useful for your confinement.

For me, I only purchased 7 boxes of Confinement Herbal Bath, which gives me 28 sachets to use throughout my confinement period. I used to buy them from the usual medical halls, but those will require me to boil the herbs for X period of time, which is very troublesome.

This herbal bath comes in huge teabags and I will just need to scald them with hot water, leave it for a couple of minutes and then dilute it with warm water. Pretty easy to prepare them myself. Besides, if you buy in bulk, you get them even cheaper! I paid $9 for a box of 4 sachets and since I bought them with Clara, I didn't pay any additional delivery charges hehehe.

In conclusion.....

In this era, confinement is very different from our parents' times. Long gone were the days where we cannot turn on the fan - I have friends who do their confinement in air-conditioned rooms! As such, it is possible to do confinement yourself without the need to engage a confinement nanny.

All you need is a couple of very good help, a sense of independence and a little faith in yourself. If you cannot get over this one month, how are you going to get through the rest of the years?

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