Confinement Centres: Making Childbearing Easier?
Confinement also known as 坐月子 (“sitting the month”) in Mandarin is a traditional Chinese practice that is still practiced, with some contemporary adjustments, by many women across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.
The Chinese believe that a woman’s body is at its weakest after childbirth, and is most vulnerable to future ailments like rheumatism. Hence, the confinement period of at least 30 days is believed to be key for immediate recovery and long-term wellbeing. During this time, the mother will have to observe a series of taboos, rituals and consume a strict diet consisting largely of foods that will ‘warm’ the body, i.e. ginger, herbs, alcohol, etc.
Confinement periods are also often associated with naggy mother-in-laws who will fuss about everything – from the baby to the mum’s diet and behaviour. Often, she will also be the strict disciplinarian when it comes to the taboos and rituals of confinement, i.e. no showering, no fan, no raw fruits and meats…
There is now a solution for mums who do not want to be subjected to the watchful eyes of the mother-in-law. Luxury confinement centers have been springing up in many parts of Asia, offering mums five-star hotel services. Mums will check in after they are discharged from the hospital. Not only do they get to rest in a well-equipped hotel-like room, meals are planned by nutritionists, lectures that mums can attend, baby pools/spa, yoga rooms for exercise and reading rooms too. Most importantly, there are 24-hour baby cam (remote camera surveillance) and babysitting services. Mums can decide when to spend time with their babies and have the option of sending them back to the nurses when they want to rest. Say goodbye to sleepless nights, waking up in the middle of the night to feed and change diapers.
I had the opportunity to visit one such confinement center in Shanghai, the Jing Ya Xuan Maternity Care Center:
Currently, confinement centres cater more to the middle and upper class as staying at these centres can be quite costly (up to US$300 per night for the best centres). However, with more centers opening up further away from the city centre to cater to the masses, the luxury of having a fuss free confinement will no longer be just a dream.
Lastly, a quote from one of the mums I spoke to at Jing Ya Xuan Maternity Care Center in Shanghai, “Child bearing is so easy when you have confinement centers. You see the baby when you want to, and send him/her away to the nurses when you want to rest, and no one’s around to nag at me! I think I could have another child soon!”