We’ve all heard horror stories of confinement nannies. It’s little wonder then that first-time mums would be hesitant about hiring one. One way to avoid this is to think about the kind of qualities you’d like to have in your confinement nanny — and simply bring them up when you interview her. If you are using an agency service to hire your confinement nanny, ask the agent these questions so that you have a higher likelihood of being allocated a compatible nanny.
1. How strict (or how flexible) is she when it comes to confinement traditions?
First things first, ensure that you and your potential confinement nanny are aligned in post-partum attitudes. What kind of confinement you wish to have? Are you the kind who believes in doing everything the traditional way, from banning fans to wearing thick socks to bed every night so ‘wind’ does not enter your body? Or does the mere thought of staying home and not showering for an entire month make you feel itchy all over?
The first thing Sharon Goh, 25, told her agent was that she did not want a traditional confinement nanny. The agency then arranged for a relatively younger nanny who was willing to work with her wants, tossing out confinement practices that she did not want to follow.
“For example, I believe that fresh air would do me a ton of good, so I took daily walks. My confinement nanny would not nag. Instead, she would just remind me to bring a jacket and stay under shelter if it rains.”
2. How experienced is the confinement nanny?
An experienced confinement nanny is truly invaluable, as she will be able to guide you through confinement practices, as well as post-partum care and breastfeeding sessions.
“I was in a lot of pain after arriving home, and it was my confinement nanny who noticed that the pain wasn’t normal and advised me to consult my gynaecologist,” shares Rebecca Chia, 31. “I had thought that it was just the painkillers wearing off, but in actual fact, I had burst a stitch, and needed stronger painkillers.”
Rebecca’s confinement nanny also suggested buying a kid-sized swimming float (instead of a hospital-grade donut pillow that cost more) to ease her pain when sitting down. “She also prepared salt sitz baths twice a day to help my vaginal wound and haemorrhoids to heal faster. I wouldn’t have thought of these if not for her.”
(See also: How to Hire a Confinement Nanny)
3. Is she pro-breastfeeding?
If you plan to breastfeed, seek out a pro-breastfeeding confinement nanny who will be able to advise and encourage you. Although you will leave the hospital with basic breastfeeding knowledge, you may face initial struggles like latching issues or low milk supply.
When you are feeling uncertain, frustrated or vulnerable, the last thing you need is to hear discouraging remarks.
“My milk did not come in immediately,” shares Clarice Yang, 34. “Instead of reassuring me, my confinement nanny kept insisting that I start feeding formula or the baby will starve. This happened just three days post-birth, and I cried all day from the pressure. I would have preferred to continue latching, but eventually felt pushed into supplementing as I thought I had ‘no milk’.”
Whether you’re in the breastfeeding or formula camp, you will save yourself a lot of exasperation if you hire a confinement nanny who is aligned with your beliefs.
4. What kind of confinement meals can the confinement nanny cook?
Traditional confinement cuisine is in a class of its own. Featuring lots of ginger, sesame oil and Chinese herbs, it is meant to dispel “wind”, boost breast milk and nourish the blood to help your body heal and regain its strength. If you are particular about food or have special requests, discuss them with your confinement nanny.
“I don’t take pork, but stewed pork ribs and pig’s trotters with black vinegar are standard confinement dishes. So I had to specifically request for a confinement nanny who could cook equally nutritious confinement meals without using pork,” shares Gemma Tan, 28. If you are vegetarian, you will also need a confinement nanny who can adapt confinement dishes to suit your dietary preferences.
5. Can she stay if we need her for a longer period of time?
The confinement period is typically 28 days, but you may feel that you need a longer confinement (up to 40 days) or extra help beyond that. Before you start, it may be good to check in on whether or not your confinement nanny has another job immediately after yours. That way, if she proves to be a good help, you can easily extend her for the next couple of weeks.
Hired your Confinement Nanny? Prepare these first
Once you have confirmed your confinement nanny, you will still need to do a little planning on the home-front. Firstly, there will be one more person in the house for about a month. In addition, you will also have to ensure that you have the necessary items ready as soon as you are home from the hospital after baby is born.
1. Sort out sleeping arrangements
Your confinement nanny will need a comfortable place to sleep during her stay. If you have a spare bed in the nursery, she can sleep there. If not, do prepare a mattress, pillow, and blanket for her in another room.
2. Prepare confinement herbs in advance
A confinement nanny will brew daily TCM tonics and red date longan tea to nourish you. If you intend to shower, you will need sufficient herbal packs to do so. Shop around before you pop — you won’t want to instruct your husband to grab them at the last minute when your baby’s already home! Some nannies have their own preferences, and you can check with them or their agencies how to go about buying the necessary herbs before the birth.
TIP! Make sure that you have enough kettles, vacuum flasks and soup pots at home to cope with the daily brewing of different tonics and red date longan tea, as well as your hot water showers!
3. Delegate supermarket runs
Decide on who’s going to do the grocery shopping in the weeks to come (definitely not you!). It could be your husband, your parents or in-laws or your confinement nanny. But do prepare some fresh groceries in your fridge first, so that she can whip up a nutritious meal for you soon after arriving at your home.
4. Organise an orientation session
Your confinement nanny may not know where your baby essentials are kept, or how to use the dryer in your home. Run your husband or mother through what she needs to know before you pop, so that they can orientate your confinement nanny on your behalf. That way, you can rest instead of having to manage everything.
Hire the Best Confinement Nanny for You and your Baby
There is no app to help match you to your perfect confinement nanny. Getting a good one is a mixture of luck and serendipity, and yes, research. So do your ‘homework’ because it will make a difference to the kind of postnatal experience that you have. All the best!
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