Albeit my third confinement, it was my first time hiring a confinement lady. My friend gave me a few numbers to call and we were very lucky to have found a good one.
Frankly, whether or not a confinement lady is regarded as excellent is very subjective. It varies in accordance to individual’s requirements and preferences. A person’s strength can be regarded as her weakness too. For me, I was very pleased that my confinement nanny took the initiative to decide on the menu for dinner. But another household which she worked for subsequently was not happy that she did not consult the family beforehand.
I roughly know what kind of confinement lady I wanted to hire – pleasant personality, able to take care of twins and problem-free. Sound simple enough right? I telephone-interviewed a few and crossed out those who sounded aggressive, insistent and traditional. All I wanted during this confinement was rest, a piece of mind and good food for my body to recovery. I wanted to do away with restrictive practices such as no bathing, no fan and no plain water. I found Auntie Jennifer to be the person I was comfortable with.
With all the positive experiences garnered, I decided to list out the key considerations to look out for when hiring a confinement lady.
Prepare well in advance. Know what you want.
A popular nanny will be booked well in advance. I locked in mine when I was 8 weeks pregnant. If you start calling in your second trimester, you may have already missed out the good ones.
Before you interview anyone, consider what you need. Are you fine with stringent traditional practices, or do you prefer not? I saw many instances of unhappiness arising from conflicting practices between mums and caregivers. Read on and you will find more questions to ask yourself and the potential nanny.
How long does the nanny nap? Can you accept her requirement?
My nanny happens to be a super being. She cared for both babies from day to night. While I helped in the day, she dealt with them single-handedly in the night. We were impressed by how she managed to keep the babies’ volume down at night. Apparently, she is a very light sleeper and wakes up the moment the baby stirs. Before our babies could disturb the rest of the household, Auntie Jennifer would have picked her up for the next feed, diaper change or just a cuddle for comfort. While I prefer to sleep train the babies, I applaud her ability to do this for the entire month, sleeping only 3 to 4 hours a day. Her afternoon nap lasts for just 15 minutes every day!
One awesome practice Auntie Jennifer introduced into my household was sleeping early. She would give the babies their evening wipes and get them ready for bed. By 8 pm, she dimmed the lights and sent them to bed. I follow through till present. I could not do the same for my older children as I used to work late in the office. B y the time I reach home, it could be 9 pm or 10 pm and my children waited for me to get ready for bed. That was very unhealthy for them as they had to wake up by 7.30am every morning.
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Is the nanny very experienced? Does she impose her views on you?
I used to read lots of baby care books for my first and second born. 6 years later, I still retain some fuzzy memories of the theories learned. Auntie Jennifer observed me for the first couple of days and decided that I have my own approach when caring for the babies. She adopted my way of doing things. If she had any opinion, she would gently and indirectly introduce the idea to me. Thus, we maintained a cordial relationship throughout my confinement period.
Ask yourselves. Can you accept an outsider imposing her system on you? If you can’t, make sure you discuss this thoroughly with her over the telephone interview. Assess whether the potential nanny can adapt to your way of handling the baby.
Genuine love for babies
I could see that my nanny loves babies. I don’t think anyone with no genuine love for babies can do their job well, especially when the babies cry all day long.
Auntie Jennifer definitely loves babies. In fact, she pampered my twins so much that she would immediately jump up to attend to the babies before they started crying. This was regardless of whether she was already tired out by their fussiness throughout the day. In her own way, she spoke to the twins lovingly and soothed them.
So how do you determine whether the potential confinement lady has patience and love for your baby? Give her some scenarios of a crying baby and ask her how she will handle it. Are you comfortable with her approach?
Ask the confinement lady when and what she will cook for you. Decide who will do the marketing.
Auntie Jennifer is a great cook and is able to come up with a variety of dishes. Similarly, as above, she observed how our family worked and my household management style for the first few days and adjusted to our family’s preference very quickly. In a way, she was lucky that our household, though crowded, was managed by only one person and that was me. The guidelines were solely laid down by me and she did not receive conflicting instructions from anyone else.
I had 5 meals a day, consisting breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. For supper, it was typically herbal soup that helped improve my body’s qi.
We initially got my mother-in-law to go marketing with Auntie Jennifer. After 1 week of inconveniences, we entrusted Auntie Jennifer to shop for the daily ingredients while my mother-in-law took care of the herbs because we believed that she is an honest person.
Feeding the babies
Ask the potential nanny her views on breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding. Make sure it is in line with what you want.
As my supply was not sufficient for 2 babies, Auntie Jennifer helped to feed the babies with formula milk. We coordinated on the feeding details, as in how much, when and who to feed.
Even after latching one of the babies, she would gently nudge me to go express more milk.
After every wash, Auntie Jennifer would sterilise the equipment.
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Who does the laundry?
My cousin prepped me beforehand that it is the nanny’s responsibility to wash the baby’s laundry.
Auntie Jennifer took over the babies’ laundry without any discussion even though I have a live-in helper. I heard from others that some nannies pushed the laundry to the maids instead.
Tell the confinement lady all your requirements to avoid unexpected surprises. If you are expecting multiples, be upfront about it too. You would not want to surprise a nanny who is not confident in taking care of twins and back out last minute.
Like what I said earlier, everyone has a different perspective. A person’s strength can be viewed as a weakness by another person. If we can look at a cup half filled instead of half empty, we can be happier and less friction will occur. In Auntie Jennifer’s case, the other family required her to wait for the husband to decide on what to have for dinner. He typically replied at 5 pm. Is this a realistic arrangement?
This is not part of the telephone interview, but an additional service provided by Auntie Jennifer. She taught my helper how to care for the babies.
With Auntie Jennifer, a super human set as an example, I may have raised the bar very high. I credit her superb abilities to her sensitive, adaptable and nurturing nature. Or maybe I am just easygoing and see everything as a half-filled cup?
Please bear in mind that confinement ladies are just human beings who need rest and have emotions too. Don’t set your expectation too high.
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