After giving birth, mothers may choose to go in confinement or not.
Confinement is a traditional practice that can help mothers rest and recover physically and emotionally from childbirth, as well as prepare them for the lifelong journey of motherhood.
Specific confinement practices depend on one’s culture, but generally speaking, mothers are advised to stay indoors for the whole period of confinement and to follow certain dietary requirements.
Nowadays, mothers have the option to undergo confinement at private confinement centres, instead of at home with a confinement lady.
By checking into a confinement centre, there will always be someone available to look after and help you around the clock.
You can also meet and spend time with other new mothers, making confinement a less isola-ting experience.
Most confinement centres also provide classes to equip mums with babycare basics.
However, there are concerns regarding the legality of confinement centres and the lack of regulation.
Plus, decent confinement centres are still the more expensive option compared with confinement ladies.
And not all confinement centres have the same policies, so it would be wise to look into what each centre offers.
Also, do note that centres that operate in private residential houses may not be an ideal choice as they may not fulfil certain requirements to operate as a healthcare facility.
What to check?
If you decide to spend your confinement at a centre, there are certain things you should check before signing up.
A standard confinement package includes accommodation, meals, support staff and laundry service.
Check what type of accommodation will be arranged for you and your baby, and if you will get a private or shared room.
Does the package include confinement products, baby items and other extras such as classes or massage sessions?
If not, be ready to pay extra or prepare the things you may need ahead of time so that you don’t incur unwanted costs.
Support staff, including confinement ladies, nurses and/or midwives, should be available 24 hours a day at a centre.
Also find out if there are any in-house paediatricians or obstetricians to attend to you.
The chef and kitchen crew should be trained in food preparation and hygiene.
And the person in charge of any extra classes or sessions should be a qualified professional in the area they are teaching or practising.
Do note that confinement centres are currently not included in the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998 and are only recognised as businesses.
Therefore, couples need to carefully review the contract before checking into a confinement centre.
Ensure that the centre supports and prioritises breastfeeding; they should not pressure mothers into formula milk feeding.
Are husbands allowed to stay with their wife and newborn?
If not, check the visiting hours so that daddy gets to spend adequate bonding and support time with mummy and baby.
Check if the centre has any particular way of caring for babies.
For example, are babies given pacifiers? Is there a set feeding schedule?
See if you are fine with the arrangements and if the methods are flexible and open to change.
Find out the centre’s policy on observing specific confinement practices that might be outdated.
The centre should provide an agreement that covers any case of dispute or mishap.
Legally, a confinement centre is only considered a generic business, similar to a wellness or spa centre.
It is not regulated by any specific law such as the Child Care Act 1984, which covers childcare centres.
Check any claims made by the centre, e.g. sterilised baby room (how sterile?), certified personnel (certified by whom?), etc.
The centre should be able to manage any emergencies.
They should be well-equipped to meet the various needs of mothers.
However, remember that even if the centre and its staff are qualified to do so, they are not allowed to handle medical equipment if they are not registered under the PHFSA 1998.
Find out how many occupants are usually accomodated at any one time and see if you are comfortable with this number.
The government has yet to come up with specific guidelines and regulations for confinement centres.
If you are planning to spend your postpartum and confinement period at a confinement centre, it is advisable to do some careful research before making a decision.
Do note that the Health Ministry also provides postnatal care and home visits by nurses from public hospitals or clinics to monitor mothers’ and babies’ statuses.
Dr H. Krishna Kumar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and past president of the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia. This article is courtesy of the Malaysian Paediatric Association’s Positive Parenting programme in collaboration with expert partners. For further information, please email email@example.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Informa-tion published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.