Monday, 8 August 2005

Week 15 – Hunt for the Chinese Confinement Lady

When one of my close friends found out about the pregnancy, she suggested that I start my search for the confinement lady (or CL) soon. I remembered her own search for this Very Important Person herself last year - she had to dial up to 10 friends for contact numbers and even called up CLs based in KL to enquire! Lucky for her, she found this nice lady from Ipoh who speaks English and Cantonese.
Confinement refers to the Chinese practice of keeping new mums 'confined' to the home for 30 days (up to 40 days) and a stay-in lady takes care of both her and her baby's needs.
During this time, she cooks the confinement dishes (for samples, check out Kuali), advises you on R & R and also helps feed, clean and soothe the baby. The going rate for CLs now is RM2,500-3000. Some info on the confinement period at ChinaTownSdyney As our baby is due on Feb 4, which is incidentally the seventh day of Chinese New Year, people warned that the CL may not be able to commit or may even ask to be paid double. I was worried because I need during the one month: My mum isn't strong enough to help out and my mum-in-law stays across the China sea! We don't plan to hire a maid for the long-term so we didn't want to go through the works of getting one now. And so the frantic calls begin... Candidate #1, My friend liked her soft, gentle ways, great hygiene, common-sense approach (read: not too traditional) to taking care of the mum/baby and she was quite helpful around the house. Furthermore, as she also spoke English, communication was clear between the two of them. Another plus point was that she would cook a soup in addition to the regulation chicken & ginger dishes. Lastly, she didn't believe in waking the baby up at 3.00 am for a feed even if the baby was sleeping soundly! I've heard that if you do this, then the baby will get used to this routine and not adopt a regular sleeping pattern. Candidate #2 - I got this contact from a friend but I was quite wary about calling her as her asking price is RM3,000 and she flatly refused to cook for hubby or do laundry (no to even loading the washer/dryer). Secondly, she's frequently asked to be CL to Chinese families living abroad and has been to Canada, the UK and also the US. This friend warned me she has extravagant tastes when it came to buying food or stuff for the household. This warning also came with the info that she would charge extra RM400-500 for any additional task given to her. Candidate #3 - Another friend's contact though she said to only call her as a last resort because she is a) ultra traditional b) slovenly and c) rough with the baby. If these 3 winning titles were not enough to scare us, her military attitude of scooping up the baby from its blissful sleep at 4 hour intervals for feeds definitely set us against her! Candidate #1 kept me on my toes for almost a month as she was busy with a lady in KL and pondering on whether she wanted to take up my offer for early Feb. But, rejoice! we finally got a call from her one fine day and she AGREED. Phew, that's one more thing off our minds... BABY NOTES: Your baby weighs about 3 ounces and should be about 5 inches in length. Your baby's heart is growing strong and even though it is little, it is pumping between 20-25 quarts of blood every 24 hours. By the time you are ready to deliver, your baby's heart will be circulating up to 300 quarts of blood every 24 hours. At around the 15th week, a pattern for their future hairline develops. It can take quite a bit longer for some babies hairline or even their hair, to "fully develop".

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