It is a typical asian tradition for mothers who have just delivered to go thru a period of confinement. Basically, during this ‘confinement’ / jail period, you are suppose to rest and observe certain rules to ensure your future well-being for at least one month. (I’ll go into more about my confinement in my next post).
For this post, I plan to concentrate on my experience of hiring the confinement lady.
Just like a wedding photographer, the confinement lady proof to be a really rare commodity in Malaysia. Sorry – let me rephrase that, a really GOOD confinement lady is a rare gem. There are several confinement lady who kind of dominate the malaysia market and it is seriously crazy how early they are booked out. I was told that some even booked their confinement lady as early as 3 weeks into their pregnancy ! (shocking)
For me, I started looking for a confinement lady in my 10th week. My mum is determine that I must have a confinement lady because she had one and she think it is money well spend… that was until she find out how much confinement lady are charging nowadays. LOL. She was shocked when I told her that since LO (little one) is born during the CNY, I must pay double. The on-going rate 2014/2015 was about RM3,800 – RM 4,500 for 28 days. Don’t know why it’s 28 days and not a month. weird.
Most of them will request for a down payment / deposit between RM500 – RM1,500. If the CL is someone you know, it’s not a big issue i guess. But, it might be a bit uncomfortable if you don’t know the CL. Beware that there are cases whereby the CL just ran off with the deposit.
And, that is not including the ‘ang-pow’ (red-packet) that you must give the confinement lady (CL). I am not sure why they call is ang-pow when they dictate the amount you need to give (minimum). The rate is anything from RM200-RM300, depending of the CL.
Personally, I don’t mind giving the angpow especially if the CL has been amazing. I would even happily give more… but, for CL to inform you their minimal angpow seems weird to me. Why not just include that amount into your monthly amount.. and then allow us to dictate the angpow money?
Anyway, I was lucky since I got my friend’s CL (who is a few months ahead of my due date) to also agree to take me. So, I didn’t really go thru the pain of calling tons of CL / Aunties to be turned down. The experience can be quite disheartening i think.
The CL will always ask for your due date to check if they can squeeze you into their schedule. Be really careful to make sure that if you are 2 weeks early, the CL can make it. Some pack their time so tight. Nicely check with them (once they say they can take you), where is their job before yours. That way, you can know if you can reach them should you deliver early. Most of the CL in Malaysia are also call away to do confinement in Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, USA and etc. So, if they are oversea, it will be near impossible to get them and you will start panicking.
Next, the CL will ask you where you stay / plan to do your confinement And what other duties you need them to do. IF they never ask if you are planning to breastfeed or not, TELL them. Some CL do NOT take jobs if the mother is planning to breastfeed.
So, what does the CL actually suppose to do for you? Basically, it is 2 main thing only.
1. Take care of the mother. Ensure the mother is provided with nutritional food and herbal soups. (not sure if western medical world would deem what chinese mother eat as nutritional… In fact, hubby thinks the mother is like borderline alcoholic considering how much wine was used to cook my food and I already was deemed to consume really little by my CL)
The CL needs to prepare red-date water for the mother to drink. Cook the ‘special’ herbal water for bath / shower. And also advise the mother on all the rules and regulations (which you can decide to follow or not – just use your own common sense).
2. Take care of the baby… everything baby related (including baby laundry). If you plan to breastfeed, you must ensure your CL promotes it as well. Some CL are quite picky about breast feeding. So, if you are a first time breastfeeding mother, you really want someone who is going to encourage you since it’s really hard.
The CL needs to be able to know what could be the reason your LO is crying or fussing about. Keeping an eye on the LO 24/7.
Some CL are quite fixed on what their job scoop are. So, they won’t do extra duties like helping with housework, cooking for your hubby or other family members, taking care of your other children and etc. You need to be upfront about what you need them to do for you before hiring them. Some might request for extra payment, some will not.
Apart from that, you also need to highlight certain traits you need them to follow once the CL starts work with you. e.g. cleanliness , no answering their hp when tending to your LO, no barging into the master bedroom without knocking… and etc.
Personally, I totally agree that if you can afford to pay the price for these CL, it is definitely great especially for first time mother like myself (provided the CL is good or even average). At least, I can get some rest at night / day knowing that my LO is in capable hands. The down side is having a stranger coming into your home and living with you for a month. It can be a bit scary and uncomfortable (especially for hubby and me since we have never share our home with anyone before).
But, if your mum or mother-in-law is capable to help you with your confinement month, it would be even better (I feel).
Just a quick note, I think the best time to call the CL is definitely around 3pm or 10pm. They are usually quite busy early in the morning, lunch time and dinner time getting things done for the baby and the mother. If she’s a responsible CL, she would know better than to answer calls during those peak hour period. And if she does answer your call, you might need to consider if she’s going to do that to you too ! ;p
Good luck with your CL hunt. The best is to always ask around your family / friends for someone who they have already hired before. DON’T trust the review you read online (that’s why I decided not to disclose my CL info – not because I am selfish but I realised different strokes for different folks)