Do You Really Need A Confinement Nanny During These COVID-19 Times?

For those who live in Singapore and are expecting a little bundle of joy, one question that you, your partner and family would have to decide is whether to engage a confinement nanny or not. Although we’ve already taken steps to formalise our engagement of a confinement nanny, given the present COVID-19 climate, we find ourselves mulling over whether a confinement nanny is truly essential after Ruth is born in September.

Our Background

To be honest, prior to COVID-19, the thought of not having a confinement nanny at home to help us care for our first child was out of the question. We’ve read and heard about the advantages of having a confinement nanny, and were in full agreement with them, for example:

(a) A confinement nanny would allow you to get more rest as she would assist with caring for the baby at night (save for the occasions when you need to get out of bed for breastfeeding or to pump your breastmilk). This also applies during the day when you may need to squeeze in a cat nap or two.

(b) A confinement nanny would be able to help with washing both your and baby’s clothes. This would save you the trouble from bending down to carry heavy loads especially when you’re is still recovering from delivery.

(c) A confinement nanny would be able to bathe your infant, which you may find difficult to do whilst recuperating from delivery. Also, if you’re practising traditional confinement and don’t believe in touching water during the first-month post-delivery, a confinement nanny would be able to step in to help where necessary.

(d) A confinement nanny would be trained in the cooking of confinement food. She will also visit the supermarket (together with a family member of yours) and purchase groceries for your meals. Agencies would also typically ensure that the menu their confinement nanny cooks would be constantly on rotation, or rather, that there will be no repetition in the dishes cooked. This not only saves you cost on catering confinement food (and save you the hassle of putting together a suitable meal), but all your meals will be nutritious.

(e) A confinement nanny is trained in infant care. She will know how to take care of your baby and will also be able to advise you on breastfeeding issues (if any).

(f) A confinement nanny would know how to brew your red date tea and prepare your herbal bath.

For some context, our present confinement nanny package is approximately S$3,500 (a deposit of S$2,100 has been paid and the balance of S$1,400 is to be paid to the confinement nanny directly after the conclusion of her services). This does not include any payment of red packets or a package for the red date tea and herbal bath. Based on our agency’s present terms, we will also be required to pay an additional S$600 for a foreign nanny’s stay-home notice period and S$150 for a local nanny’s stay-home notice period, to satisfy the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 restrictions and regulations.

Photo Credits: Pexel

Where our hearts are in this COVID-19 situation

After the onset of COVID-19, we sat down with our family members to seriously deliberate on whether we really needed to engage a confinement nanny and whether we could manage on our end, should the COVID-19 circuit breaker restrictions remain. Then, the Ministry of Health had already released its set of regulations relating to confinement nannies and plenty of my mother’s friends’ children had their confinement nannies cancel on them at the last-minute too.

Assuming that we had my mother’s full help (and that she was healthy enough to assist us with Ruth), our answer was a firm “Yes, we will be able to manage.” We came to this conclusion based on the following reasons:

(a) Whilst my mother knows how to cook confinement food, we could always opt for a confinement food delivery service which ranges between S$1,400 to S$1,800 for a dual meal. Alternatively, my mother would cook a single meal and the other meal would be catered. This was arguably cheaper than paying an additional S$1,400 for the confinement nanny, the relevant stay-home notice charges and any food that she would purchase for cooking during our confinement period.

(b) My mother will be able to assist with bathing Ruth. We also intend to purchase a bathtub that is mounted on a stand so that we do not have to bend down to bathe her. After his 2 weeks of paternity leave, my husband will fill a warm bath for Ruth in the morning and we will thereafter bathe her in that same tub. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

(c) We stay in a 3-bedroom apartment where my mother and sister are still living in the other 2 rooms. Unfortunately, we do not have an additional room for the confinement nanny and we intend for Ruth to sleep with us at night. Some may say that this would be unhelpful for my recovery (given that I’m likely to wake up to any sound that Ruth makes), but this is our reality and we will accept it. Even if Ruth sleeps with the confinement nanny, I will still have to wake up and breastfeed. There’s no “break” / “more rest” per se. In the day, my mother will watch over Ruth whilst I take my cat naps.

(d) My husband will be at home during the first 2 weeks of Ruth’s birth and would be able to help with the washing. We also have a washing machine (top load) at home and a dryer. It’s not difficult to wash Ruth’s clothes and even if I did need the extra help, my mother would be most happy to step in.

(e) My mother is aware of how to brew red date tea and prepare herbal baths. Anyway, we’re not fussed about the baths and I do intend to bathe every day for the sake of hygiene. My mother also has friends who are experienced with purchasing herbs and the red date tea ingredients and would be able to help with those two aspects of confinement.

(f) With regard to infant care, if any help was needed, we could always reach out to our paediatrician. As for breastfeeding, we do also have the option of reaching out to a lactation consultant at our delivery hospital of choice for advice.

Photo Credits: Pexels

So where does this leave us?

Truthfully, we don’t know. Whilst I am appreciative of the help that my mom is willing to offer us, there’s no guarantee that she would be in the pink of health during our confinement period and be able to assist with taking care of Ruth. If she is unable to perform certain duties and I am physically unfit to do so, I would be more compelled to force myself to run those tasks and hence, slow down my recovery. On the other hand, it does make more fiscal sense to terminate our confinement nanny package and apply the monies towards a confinement meal delivery whilst saving the rest for Ruth’s other expenses.

But more importantly, my family is concerned about living together with a non-family member and Ruth’s close interaction with this non-family member. In this COVID-19 situation, every decision that you make has risks and we need to make a decision that is the best for Ruth. This is especially so when the confinement nannies originate from overseas and even for the local nannies, when they’ve hopped from household to household for confinement nanny services.

I suppose we still have a couple of months more to mull over this issue. We just need to give our agency 1 months’ notice to terminate the contract, subject to the deduction of a certain percentage of our deposit. In this case, only time will tell.

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