In some Asian cultures—such as in Singapore—new mothers in the post-partum period follow Traditional Confinement Practices (TCP) which necessitates a caregiver called a confinement nanny2. TCP is a highly cultural concept practiced for as long as the confinement period goes on, which is about 28 to 45 days1.
The confinement nanny’s major roles are split in two: focusing on the baby and the mother. She is charged with bathing and regularising the baby’s sleep schedule, while her primary responsibility for the mother is making her nutritious meals. She also does some household chores for some mothers3.
However, preparing meals that promote overall health of the new mother must meet certain standards. A proper TCP meal must be able to: dispel “wind”, enhance blood circulation, nourish the mother’s bones and joints and also promote milk production4.
Confinement meals need to be specially prepared. Normally, TCP recipes include fish soup, ginger, chicken in sesame oil and a traditional 10 herbs tonic4. According to tradition, mothers must eat foods that “heat” instead of those that “cool”, because giving birth causes a woman’s body to be in a “cold” state2. Foods that “heat” include fried foods, red meat, chocolate, durian, nuts and spicy dishes. Some examples of cooling foods are watermelon, coconut, cabbage and green tea8.
Other rules dictate that mothers should avoid drinking plain water, as that can be retained during the post-partum period4.
A confinement nanny can be sourced through agencies or word-of-mouth5. They are usually sourced from Malaysia, but can hail from other countries as well. If they are from Malaysia, the following criteria must be met: hold Malaysian citizenship, be between the ages of 23 and 70 and work at the employer’s residence6.
Similarly, the employer must be 21 years or older, have a child below 4 months of age and pay the required fees6.
These caregivers typically get paid based on their level of experience and the type of work they are expected to do. They are paid anywhere from $2,000 to $3,0007.
Once a new mother has hired a confinement nanny, it is necessary to discuss what is expected of her such as what activities she can or cannot do and provide a list of emergency contacts and those of specific family members7.
A confinement nanny is also considered a reliable support system for mothers. Post-partum depression is less likely to occur with such a support system, as they provide the care and assistance a new mother needs7.
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
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
What is a Confinement Nanny. https://www.nannysos.com.sg/what-is-a-confinement-nanny/. Accessed 2 Aug 2020
Confinement Food in Chinese, Malay and Indian Cultures. https://www.healthxchange.sg/women/post-pregnancy/confinement-food-chinese-malay-indian. Accessed 2 Aug 2020