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Conflict of Confinement Lady with Breastfeeding

Posted Apr 25 2009 11:04pm

Hiring a Confinement Lady to take care of new mother is a common practice amongst Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore.

There are so many rules after delivering a baby. Many new moms do not know them well, so they hire a CL (Confinement Lady) to help them. CL’s service including cooking of confinement food for new mom and normal food for the new dad, taking care of the baby day and night, cleaning (sweep and mop the floor, and laundry).

Now, the issue with CL is that, most of them are coming from the old school (that’s why they are hired for their knowledge of the old practice). They themselves are mothers in the 70s era, where formula invaded Malaysia and Singapore and gained popularity. I can dare say nearly all of the CLs have never breastfed their babies, and that’s where problem comes in.

If you have experience with CLs, I’m sure you will agree with me… Nearly all CLs would tell you that:
- You do not have enough milk for the baby.
- You need to supplement with formula, at least for the first 1 week and for night feeding.
- You must let her take care of your baby at night, so you can sleep.
- You must drink a lot of alcohol and eat a lot of ginger.
- You must not feed baby lying down.
- You must not feed baby at night.

For those mothers who follow CLs advice, 100% of them fail breastfeeding. Some might consider them ’successfull’, because they fed a few times a day for a month or so, then weaned because of ‘no milk’. I won’t call it successful, if you have to supplement with formula.

I hired a CL after my 1st child birth. It was a disaster. But because of my perseverance (or stubborness) and well equipped with knowledge + support, I overcame that. Also, my CL didn’t have strong character, and after I told her firmly how I wanted my confinement to be, she accepted it later (like after 1 week!).

I didn’t hire CL for my 2nd child birth. My mom took care of me, and she let me do my way.

Why CLs like to tell you the wrong way (or sabotage your bfg effort)?
- They never believe in breastfeeding in the first place.
- They have never breastfed themselves, but most like to pretend they are pro, and they give you wrong information.
- Those wrong advices are made to ease their job in the 28 days.
- Formula is harder to digest, hence stay longer in the stomach. SHE works less, and can sleep through the night!
- Formula fed babies usually poo less - less work for her.

It is important that, before you hire a CL, always interview her first. Ask her the following questions:

- Has she taken care of any bfg mothers?
- If yes, did the mothers supplement with formula at all?
(if yes, ask why - if she keeps insisting that the mothers have no milk, she is questionable! Note her reaction towards the failed bfg moms - whether she sounds ‘disgusted’ or ‘pitious’)

- How supportive is she on bfg?
(if she discourage you immediately, drop her)

- How comfortable that you do not keep any infant formula at home?
(if she asks you to buy a can for ‘just in case’, tell her that you would not keep any, not even for just in case basis — ask if she is comfortable with that or not)

- Is she okay that you take ginger and alcohol in moderation during the 1st week. And all alcohol must be cooked before serving.

Along the way, note the character of the CL, whether she is very authoritative, or easy going. Remember, you are the boss. You pay her salary. You have the rights to choose how you want your confinement to be.

The word ‘confinement’ is already so demotivating. With the Confinement Lady’s dominating the whole process, it can be very daunting for the new mothers. I nearly developed post natal depression with my own CL!! So it is very important to stand firm on your choice - breastfeeding. Read a lot - to reinforce yourself that you are doing the right thing. Most of the time, it is us who doubt whether we are doing it right, since CL is supposed to be the more experienced. That’s when we tend to give in, because the experts say so.

Having a CL is actually still a very pampered thing to do. So, choose your CL right, and you can enjoy your confinement period. :)

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