Many of you back in Malaysia wondered how I managed my postpartum confinement without my mom or a confinement nanny. While the help of a confinement nanny is definitely justified, we got by quite well without one. You could even say that it brought us closer together as my husband could learn all the intimate details of the confinement process and all that I went through, and the one caring for me and Annakate was the man who loves me!
In this age of information, you can find a lot of information on what to do and what not to do during confinement. Although I tend to stick with what my mom recommends, the internet can also be of great help. And while it is easier said than done, it can be done!
Here’s ten things that I feel made it possible for us:
#1 Husband and family
My husband took two and a half weeks off from his job to take care of us. After that, I had his mom and the occasional church-family member with me for the following three weeks. My husband’s mom brought her years of experience and stayed in Annakate’s room so that my husband could go back to work. Our loving church family was kind enough to cook several meals for my husband to ease his burden while he prepared my special confinement meals, and spent some days with me to give his mom a break. My husband now jokes that he will add a Confinement Lady title to his resume. Maybe he should!
We had my mom on Skype everyday, morning and night. With a laptop connected to our TV and an external webcam, it felt like my mom was in the room with us. We were able to have her wisdom and experience to guide us and remind us of all the details of confinement. This also allowed Annakate to learn and recognize her grandma’s face and voice.
#3 Organized herbs
I flew in the confinement herbs from Malaysia and most of the herbs were prepackaged and labeled such as ‘Day 1’ or ‘Day 4’, which made it easy for my husband to make the daily herbal soup. He just needed to dump the packet of herbs, water, and, depending on the day, meat into a slow cooker each morning. Easy!
I had all the confinement recipes written out clearly for my husband. He just needed to follow the instructions to make delicious confinement meals such as Ginger Wine Chicken. The meals are actually not that difficult to make once you have the right tools and ingredients. Once in a while, to get up and stretch, I would help out by doing the actual cooking in the pan after he had washed, cut, and sliced everything. I let him do all the tedious work while I did the fun part.
#5 Dish washing machine with garbage disposal
This ingenious invention makes dish washing almost care free. Just throw the dishes, pots, cutting boards, or whatever in. Then, turn it on for an hour and everything comes out sparkling and sterilized! The garbage disposal part also allows us to simply dump just about anything into the sink, where it is chopped up and flushed to oblivion. This saved an enormous amount of time, as opposed to scraping and washing by hand.
#6 Clothes washing machine and dryer
Just throw dirty clothes into the washing machine, then throw them in the dryer for an hour, and everything comes out clean and wrinkle-free! All that is left to do is hang the clothes up, which is very much simplified if you can free enough hanging space in closets to avoid having to fold anything. Loose items such as socks are easily sorted by throwing them into their respective organized bins–no folding necessary. Between the dish washer and clothes washer/dryer, they replace much of what a maid would do, with very little effort on our part.
#7 Easy shopping
I find shopping here in America extremely easy, at least where we live. Nearly every store we need is right down the street; parking is simple and the entire shopping experience is pleasant without lines or hassles. The nearest grocery store to us, which is only a 3 minute drive away, opens from 6am to midnight. Isn’t that convenient? For those late night immediate needs, there are two drug stores and a Walmart open 24 hours a day. Better yet, we did quite a bit of online shopping. Practically anything we needed was available to be shipped to our doorstep in 2 days for free (1 day if we paid a small fee), even diapers, batteries, and prenatal vitamins. For example, my husband bought extra parts for my breast pump on his iPhone with one hand while holding Annakate. Now that’s convenient!
#8 Disposable items
Not the best thing for the environment but it’s a good temporary measure to further reduce the daily workload. Firstly, disposable diapers were far, far easier than cloth diapers. At $19.79 for 72 disposable diapers, cost wasn’t an issue. Secondly, disposable underpads! These simple absorbent pads saved an enormous amount of cleanup time. Changing Annakate on them made a messy experience go away instantly once we rolled the pad up and threw it away. They aren’t too expensive, either, at about 25 cents each for extra large pads in bulk. We probably go through one every two days for those astoundingly explosive poops, since babies love to give you presents once their diaper is off. Plus, it’s a good idea to have them before giving birth, in case your water breaks unexpectedly in the car, couch, or bed.
While my husband massaged me nearly every night during my pregnancy and postpartum, we also hired a very capable masseuse that did house calls. Twice a week Kristin brought her massage table and equipment to my home and skillfully worked out every knot and tight muscle in my sore body. While I’m sure a confinement nanny would provide some similar services, it was great having a certified massage therapist that we could trust, even while still pregnant.
My husband and I had a clear, systematic plan of what to do each day.
Coming up with a plan for each of us to follow helped us not forget anything and made things seem less chaotic or hectic. If you want to come up with a strategy for you and your husband, here’s an abbreviated example:
Hubby: Change baby’s diaper, make breakfast, make the daily herbal soup, empty the dishwasher, tidy up things, boil herbal bath water, start rice cooker
Wifey: Nurse baby
Hubby: Burp baby
Wifey: Eat breakfast
Hubby: Eat breakfast, empty dryer
Wifey: Rest with baby in bouncer or swing
Hubby: Change diaper, make confinement lunch
Wifey: Nurse baby
Hubby: Burp baby, prepare herbal bath
Wifey: Eat lunch
Hubby: Eat and/or play with baby
Wifey: Herbal bath
Hubby: Change diaper, make confinement dinner
Wifey: Nurse baby
Hubby: Burp baby
Wifey: Eat dinner
Hubby: Put baby to sleep, eat, clean up, slice ginger, load dishwasher and washing machine, make red dates tea, sterilize pump
If you time things right, the husband can prepare your meals while you nurse, then allow you to eat in peace while he burps the baby. The baby will usually fall asleep for a nap after that so you can rest while he eats and then joins you for a rest. We switched a few things around here and there on the schedule as needed, but that was basically the strategy. After my husband went back to work he still performed his morning and nightly duties while his mom and church-mates helped out during the day.
With the right information, resources, and environment, a couple can definitely practice a fully traditional postpartum confinement without a confinement nanny. Of course, having an extra set of hands would be helpful, but not entirely necessary with modern technology lending its own helping hand.
Taking care of a newborn is never an easy task but it can be the most rewarding job you ever do!