Mothers who follow the Traditional Confinement Practices (TCP) often require post-partum assistance from a caregiver. This caregiver is also known as a confinement nanny. This custom is viewed as unique to Southeast Asian cultures2 and this article will delve into the role of a confinement nanny in Singapore.
TCP or better known as "Confinement" is a popular post-natal custom among South East Asian populations. TCP touches on restrictions of certain post-partum recovery rituals and diets. This recovery period usually lasts between 28 to 45 days. It is important to take note that TCP is culturally biased and not science based. In fact, traditional and modern beliefs often contradict each other.
Most Asian mothers respect TCP out of superstition. However, many have reported feeling better following TCP post-delivery. Some studies have shown that certain parts of TCP, such as diet, played a role in lactation, maternal recovery and the newborn’s well-being1.
Roles of a Confinement Nanny in Singapore
A confinement nanny in Singapore typically has the features of an experienced older woman. She is trained to help the mother during her first one to two months after childbirth. She is known to have the wisdom and expertise to care for the mother and baby properly.
Roles of Caring for the Baby:
Training baby’s sleep routine
Roles of Supporting the mother:
Doing household chores
Preparing special nutritious meals
Improve mother's overall health and speed up recovery3.
Consequently, it is mostly a personal preference to hire a confinement nanny in Singapore. Besides, some mothers may prefer to go to a confinement centre or ask a family member to help them fulfill the role of a confinement nanny2.
Confinement Nanny's Meal Prep in Singapore
First, the confinement nanny’s most important function is meal preparation.
A nutritious TCP meal aims to:
Promote blood circulation
Strengthen mother's body and joints
Enhance milk production
Nutritious TCP Recipe includes:
Chicken in Sesame oil
Traditional 10 herbs tonic
It is also not encouraged to drink plain water because it is believed to cause water retention during the post-partum period. Based on TCP, it is better to consume drinks made from mixtures of herbs and preserved dates4.
Based on traditional Chinese beliefs, a post-natal mother needs to eat “heaty" foods instead of “cooling” meals. This is due to the idea that a woman’s body is in a state of being “cold” after having given birth2. Therefore, “hot” foods help to restore the imbalance caused by childbirth4.
Examples of “heaty” foods include deep-fried foods, durian, red meat, chocolate, nuts, and spicy foods, while “cooling” foods include watermelons, coconut, cabbage, mangosteen, and green tea8.
Hiring a Confinement Nanny in Singapore
Mothers may choose to hire a confinement nanny in Singapore from sources such as confinement nanny agencies or directly through their network of mothers via word of mouth. These confinement nannies can be either locals or foreigners, typically from Malaysia. If the mother chooses to hire a foreigner, they come with a set of criteria.
Foreign confinement nannies must obtain a work permit, government levy (paid by the employer) and medical insurance prior to working in Singapore5. The employer and nanny need to meet the eligibility requirements to obtain the work permit.
The employer must fulfill the criteria below:
21 years old and above
has a child below 4 months old
must pay the necessary fees
Meanwhile, the confinement nanny must:
be a Malaysian
aged between 23 and 70
work at the employer’s home
The permit is good for 16 weeks starting from the child’s birth6. Hence, the confinement nanny in Singapore is paid based on her experience and expected function. The salary may range anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.
Confinement Nanny in Singapore Ground Rules
Ground Rules Checklist
Set expectations on work schedule, daily tasks and meal plans
Briefing on topics such as integrity, hygiene and safety
Mobile phone usage while on duty
Off-limit areas and items in the house
List of emergency contacts - spouse, next-of-kin, emergency numbers
In conclusion, confinement nanny in Singapore serves as a major support system for post-natal care among mothers. Moreover, the chances of facing post-partum depression can be eased by appointing a confinement nanny7. A good confinement nanny provides the help and comfort that a mother requires after the birth of her child.
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Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)
1. Exploration of Postpartum Confinement Experiences Among First-Time Mothers From The Three Major Ethnic Groups in Singapore: A Descriptive Qualitative Study. https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/154108. Accessed 1 Aug 2020
2. A Comparison of Practices During the Confinement Period among Chinese, Malay, and Indian Mothers in Singapore. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4992357/. Accessed 1 Aug 2020
3. What is a Confinement Nanny. https://www.nannysos.com.sg/what-is-a-confinement-nanny/. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
4. Confinement Food in Chinese, Malay and Indian Cultures. https://www.healthxchange.sg/women/post-pregnancy/confinement-food-chinese-malay-indian. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
5. Key facts on Work Permit for confinement nanny. https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/work-permit-for-confinement-nanny/key-facts. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
6. Eligibility for Work Permit for confinement nanny. https://www.mom.gov.sg/passes-and-permits/work-permit-for-confinement-nanny/eligibility. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
7. Post Natal Depression Awareness in Australia. https://nanny.org/post-natal-depression-awareness-in-australia/. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
8. Myth of Fact: The Effects of Heaty and Cooling Foods. https://www.gutcare.com.sg/myth-or-fact-the-effects-of-heaty-and-cooling-foods/#:~:text=Examples%20of%20heaty%20food%20include,%2C%20nuts%2C%20and%20spicy%20foods.&text=Cooling%20foods%2C%20on%20the%20other,and%20cools%20the%20body%20down. Accessed 3 Sep 2020