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Maternity Confinement in Singapore: Hiring a Confinement Nanny vs Staying in A Confinement Centre (2024)

Time to read 7 min

Hiring a Confinement Nanny vs Staying in A Confinement Centre - Which Should You Choose?

Maternity confinement, or "zuo yue zi,", is a traditional Asian practice aimed at ensuring the well-being of both mother and child during the postpartum period. In Singapore, families are presented with various options to navigate this crucial phase, with four popular choices: 1) a do-it-yourself confinement, 2) hiring a confinement nanny, 3) ordering confinement food to your house, or 4) staying in a confinement center, with some moms choose to mix and match the available options. 

What does each of the four maternity choices entail, and which is most suitable for you? This article aims to weigh the pros and cons of each option, to help you make an informed decision for your postpartum care. All rates are accurate from the published date, and are subjected to change by the providers.

What is Postpartum Care?

The postpartum period often lasts for a month or longer, and is considered a critical phase for the physical and emotional recovery of new mothers. Postpartum care in Asian culture is a blend of practical care, cultural customs, and a profound sense of community.

Traditional practices may include the use of specialized diets, herbal remedies, sufficient rest and massage therapy. Practices and traditions vary across different Asian cultures, but the underlying principle of nurturing and supporting the mother during this vulnerable time remains consistent.

mom holding baby high in bright room

1) DIY Maternity Confinement

DIY maternity confinement includes enlisting the support of the spouse, parents, in-laws, family members, and/or a domestic helper to assist in the taking care of the new mother and baby.

This is usually for families who have had experience taking care of a newborn and new mothers, and who also have the time and energy to do so.

Pros of DIY Maternity Confinement

  • Most budget friendly.
  • Trusted support: The support received will be from trusted family members, and mothers do not have to rely on ‘strangers’ to care for them and their baby.

Cons of DIY Maternity Confinement

  • Steep learning curve if you or your family has no prior experience.
  • Friction with family members: May be hard to navigate outdated confinement practices imposed by your elders.

2) Ordering Confinement Food Delivery

Confinement food is believed to help the new mother recover from childbirth and regain her strength. It is thought to aid in the healing process, boost energy levels, promote lactation, and restore balance in the body. As these specialized diets usually include tedious cooking methods, special ingredients and recipes, many new mothers turn to professional confinement food caterers during their postpartum period. 

confinement food delivery
Photo credits: Thomson Nutri

Confinement Food Delivery Rates in Singapore

Most confinement food providers offer different durations, ranging from 7 days, 21 days, 28 days, to even 35-40 days, with the option of either having one or two meals delivered per day. Prices range from $488 for a 7 days dual meal package ($34.85/meal), to $2508 for a 40 days dual meal package ($31.35/meal).

If you opt for the most common duration of 28-days, a dual meal package will set you back about $1700

  • Meals are delivered at every meal time, and usually include a soup and red date tea. Most providers also offer add-ons like bird’s nest, and lactation cookies to your package. 

Pros of Ordering Confinement Food Delivery

  • Convenience: Confinement food delivery services provide ready-made meals that save the new mother from the hassle of cooking and meal preparation during a time when she should be focusing on rest and recovery.

  • Nutritional balance: These food delivery services often offer a well-balanced and nutritionally sound menu that caters to the specific needs of postpartum recovery, ensuring that the new mother receives the essential nutrients she requires.
  • Variety: These services typically offer a diverse range of dishes, helping to prevent meal monotony and ensuring that the mother enjoys a variety of flavors and ingredients.

Cons of Ordering Confinement Food Delivery

  • Unpredictable schedules: Most providers deliver within a 3 hour window which may not align to a new mother’s meal times. Delays in delivery or changes in the schedule can disrupt meal times and add to the stress of a new mother.
  • Taste preferences: The taste and quality of the food may not always align with your preferences, and there could be occasional dissatisfaction with the meals provided.
  • Limited customisation: Ordering pre-made meals means that you have limited control over the exact ingredients and cooking methods used. This may be a concern if you hav specific dietary preferences, allergies, or cultural requirements.

3) Hiring a Confinement Nanny

The practice of outsourcing confinement help has caught on in recent years. New parents now have the option of hiring a confinement nanny through an agency or hiring a freelance nanny from referrals from friends and family.

The confinement nanny will provide care and support for both mom and baby, assist in preparing confinement meals for the mom, feed and bathe the baby, and assist with simple household chores. 

Confinement Nanny Singapore
Photo credits: Confinement Mama Singapore

Confinement Nanny Rates in Singapore

Confinement nanny via agency: From $3700 (for 28 days)

  • Agencies usually have different tiers and rates depending on the nanny’s level of experience and reviews.
  • They also charge extra if you live in a multi-story house (from $200), if a specific nanny is requested for (from $188), if the nanny needs to cook or clean for anyone other than the mother or baby (from $100/pax), if a bilingual nanny is required (from $150), or if there is a festive period surcharge ($1000 extra for the Lunar New Year period). 
  • The good thing is, agencies do the hiring paperwork, provides assurance of the nanny’s arrival date, are able to replace the nanny if she is not up to your standards, and have training and quality processes in place.

Freelance confinement nanny: Usually lower than an agency’s, but highly dependent on individual nanny’s rates.

  • If you intend to hire a Malaysian confinement nanny, you will have to apply for your nanny’s work permit yourself via the Ministry of Manpower’s website.
  • Most freelance nannies are more flexible with their rates and add-on fees than if you hired one through an agency.
  • However, there is no quality-guarantee, and is all based on word-of-mouth and past experiences.

Pros of Hiring a Confinement Nanny

  • Expertise, experience and emotional support: Confinement nannies are typically well-trained and experienced in postpartum care. They possess valuable knowledge and skills related to newborn care, breastfeeding support, and traditional postpartum practices.
  • Relief for family members: Hiring a confinement nanny can ease the burden on other family members who may not have the expertise or time to provide the necessary care and support.

Peace of mind: Knowing that a trained professional is taking care of the mother and baby can provide peace of mind to the entire family, reducing stress and anxiety.

Cons of Hiring a Confinement Nanny

  • Cost: Hiring a confinement nanny can be expensive. Besides the cost of hiring a confinement nanny, you also have to consider the cost of food ingredients required to cook confinement meals, herbs for soups and baths, any post-natal massage services, and all other baby and mother care essentials.
  • Trust and compatibility: Finding a nanny who is trustworthy and compatible with the family can be challenging. There have been many horror stories of negligent or incompatible nannies, and it may take time to establish a good working relationship. Having another person live under the same roof with you 24/7 during a sensitive and intimate period tends to exacerbate any friction and inconveniences.
  • Cultural differences: There might be cultural differences or clashes in parenting philosophies between the confinement nanny and the family, leading to potential conflicts.

4) Staying in a Confinement Centre

Staying in a confinement centre is a traditional practice found in many East Asian countries. These centres offer a dedicated environment that provide a supportive and controlled setting where mothers can benefit from expert caregivers, nutritious meals, and a range of services aimed at promoting their physical and emotional well-being. Confinement centres are considered relatively new to Singapore, only increasing in popularity in the past 1-2 years.

Confinement Centre Singapore Kai Suites
Photo credits: Kai Suites

Confinement Centre Rates in Singapore

Most confinement centres offer different durations of stay, ranging from 7 days to the standard 28 days. On the lower end, prices start from $530 per day, with most centres costing on average $820 per day, luxury confinement centres charge from $2500 per day.

If you opt for a standard 28-day stay, you are looking at forking out a whopping $23,000.

Pros of Staying in a Confinement Centre

  • Structured & professional recovery: Confinement centres offer a structured recovery program with 24/7 care from a team of professionals. There are different specialist teams in charge of baby & mom care, cooking, and housekeeping. This ensures that all caregivers are sufficiently trained and well rested to provide the best care to the new mother and baby.
  • Home away from home: Confinement centres provide a sanctuary for new mothers to focus on her rest and recuperation, away from any stress from home, family members, and household chores.
  • All-inclusive rates: Almost everything you need for your postpartum care is taken care of - all meals, snacks and soups for the mother, milk powder and feeding accessories for the baby, herbal baths for the mother, baby care items like diapers, clothes, wipes, laundry service, post-natal classes and wellness activities, and some even offer post-natal massages.

Cons of Staying in a Confinement Centre

  • Cost: With a 28-day stay costing 5x an average Singaporean’s monthly salary, staying in a confinement centre is definitely a luxury.
  • Confinement or Stay-Home-Notice (SHN)?: Most confinement centre rooms are no bigger than a standard 5-star hotel room (30SQM), with bigger suite rooms costing a substantial premium. Although new mothers are not confined to their rooms (most centres having common lounges), they may not have the luxury of space and privacy like in their own house.
  • Separation from family: With limited space in the room, it may not be convenient for anyone other than the spouse to stay over. Family visitors can visit in common spaces, with flexible visiting hours, but some mothers may find it challenging to be living away from their immediate family members, older children, and pets during this crucial time.

5) Summary: Which Confinement Option Should You Choose?

Ultimately, everyone has different expectations and preferences for their postpartum recovery. And there is no one size fits all option for new mothers. It is most important to understand what each confinement option entails, and have sufficient information to make the best decision for you and your newborn. 

pros and cons of different confinement options in Singapore
selecting the right confinement options

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