Navigating the postpartum newborn days without a confinement nanny? Here’s how this mama did it with the help of confinement meals and postnatal massages
Before I got pregnant, I scoffed at the thought of the elaborate confinement period that’s apparent in Asian cultures. 40 days without a shower, cooping up oneself in the house, wearing socks day and night…pfft! I used to think, “Western mothers have been getting by without all that mumbo jumbo for millennia, so surely we’ll be fine without it too?”
My mother, upon hearing this, simply said, “You just wait. When you give birth… then you’ll know.”
That passive-aggressive retort was enough to rattle me (those with Asian moms will know), so I put my skepticism aside and took my mom’s advice. The moment I got pregnant – besides of course the million thoughts that ran through my head about where to deliver the baby, what to buy and what to do about the nursery – I immediately thought about postpartum care and booked a postnatal massage package and arranged for confinement meal delivery. I figured if all the women in my family swear by it, I ought to follow suit and give it a shot. Besides, who couldn’t use a bit of pampering in the form of daily food deliveries and massages? Thanks to these two services, I can safely say: I actually enjoyed my confinement.
Unlike the common practice of engaging confinement nannies among the Chinese community, most Malay mamas in Singapore rely on the help of their own mothers to get them through the confinement period (or ‘pantang‘ in Malay), largely because they live together. However as my husband and I live on our own and my mother runs a home-based business that keeps her busy, I mostly winged it on my own in the first few months postpartum.
Postnatal Massage During Confinement
I booked a 10-day postnatal massage service from Bali-trained masseuse Kak Idlinah, who my mom regularly books her own massages with. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but Kak Linah took care of me so well every time she came over to conduct the postnatal massages. She’s professionally trained in prenatal massage, postnatal massage, Indonesian therapy massage and hot stone massage (OMG, sooo good). To say I was in good hands is an understatement – I only found out afterward that a number of local celebs are huge fans of hers and have her on speed-dial!
The postnatal massage treatments were conducted over 10 straight weekdays and focused on releasing ‘wind’ from the body, relieving engorgement (Kak Linah had a magical way of detecting whether my breasts were full just by massaging my back), and traditional belly binding, which helped reduce water retention, supported the loose skin around the belly area and provided better posture support.
For about 2 weeks, I started my mornings with a simple breakfast of hot Milo and a hazelnut-spread sandwich after getting my bub cleaned up and giving her a morning feed. Then I’d hear the glorious door knocks from Kak Linah, signalling it was massage time! Bye baby, off to Daddy you go.
The daily massages were a real treat and helped relieve the initial shoulder and backaches I had from constantly carrying a 4kg baby and breastfeeding around the clock. I also kept the belly binder on for about 10 to 12 hours each day (taking it off at the end of the day was the best feeling) and it helped my belly button go back to its original ‘innie’ state (pregnancy made me an outtie and it stayed that way after labour!), while holding my tummy in place so it didn’t feel so ‘loose’. Towards the end of the 10-day package, I was treated to a traditional herb-filled vaginal steaming concoction to help heal my stitches. Kak Linah even showed me how to massage my baby!
You can check out Kak Idlinah’s Instagram here and DM her about prices for her postnatal massage packages.
Confinement Meal Delivery
The confinement meal delivery service I booked with Sizzling Dyyana was another godsend. Every morning the food would come conveniently packaged and hung at our door, ready for me to plate and microwave for lunch with plenty left over for dinner. All the meals were cooked with mama and baby’s nutrition in mind (Kak Dyy of Sizzling Dyyana sends messages via WhatsApp every morning detailing what customers will receive for the day, along with each dish’s nutritional benefits). Meals often came complete with thirst-quenching drinks and yummy teatime snacks such as lactation cookies, muffins and scones.
I can’t stress enough how booking a confinement meal service was one of the best decisions I made for my postpartum care. Having food ready to go every day meant I could focus on my new mom role, and the fact that the meals were specially made for postpartum mothers helped establish and maintain my breastmilk supply. One thing I will say is that I had a lot of leftovers – sometimes too much! If you’re booking a confinement meal delivery service, check with the caterer about their portions. If they tell you that more than enough will be served, consider your hubby’s meals sorted too!
You can check out Sizzling Dyyana’s Instagram here and DM her about prices for her confinement meal packages.
A Good Support System is Everything
While I had these conveniences in place, I still couldn’t have gone through the foggy newborn days without the immense support I received from my partner and family. My husband was on 2 weeks of paternity leave, allowing him to take over and handle the baby whenever I had my massages. My mother visited us plenty in the first couple of weeks and guided me through nappy changes, how to give bub a bath, and taught us some ideal swaddling methods.
While a confinement nanny would’ve been able to take over every aspect of my pantang period (from caring for the baby to cooking to massaging, etc), I was really happy with the decision my husband and I made to take confinement into our own hands. It made us feel like we were in a secure little bubble and allowed us to really take in every facet of the fourth trimester, whether they were good or ugly. The glorious newborn snuggles, the tough sleepless nights, the many eye-opening firsts, the equal mix of triumph and exhaustion after the first poop-explosion…
I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity and privilege to have these services available to me. Having those arrangements in place gave me the chance to heal at my own pace, rest whenever I could (“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” right?) and navigate the new world of motherhood while making sure my needs were met.
So if you’re still on the fence about booking these services, trust me – you won’t regret it!
Confinement food image by Sizzling Dyyana; all other images courtesy of the author