The idea of pregnancy and seeing your body change is scary enough. Top that off with the dos and don'ts during confinement — as told differently by every concerned relative — while learning to care for a tiny human, and you're suddenly stuck in a stressful situation.
While many couples engage confinement ladies to stay over to care for the baby and cook nourishing food for the new mother after childbirth, I struggle at the thought of sharing my home with a complete stranger during my most vulnerable period, let alone entrusting a newborn baby to her.
Most of these confinement ladies are recommended by word of mouth. If you hire one that's sensitive to you and your baby's needs, it'll be like heaven on earth, but I've read horror stories that can be frightening for someone who already has doubts about having a baby.
Sure, mothers and mothers-in-law will be most willing to look after the baby, but that can be quite taxing on them too, especially if they still have full-time jobs and have to put their commitments on hold during the first month.
Having been married for almost two and a half years now, the pressures of having our first child is becoming more apparent. At every family gathering, I'll catch my relatives stealing a glimpse of my belly hoping to find a baby bump, only to be disappointed when I pick up an alcoholic drink. This would inadvertently lead to the question, "When's your turn ah?".
That question hasn't fazed us, and neither has playing with our cute nephews and nieces inspired me to have one of my own too.
What did actually make me reconsider family planning, and maybe dispelled some of the concerns I had about post-natal care, was seeing a friend post about her luxurious experience at a confinement centre in Malaysia last year, with rooms that looked like those in five-star hotels.
I joked to my husband that if similar confinement centres sprouted up in Singapore, then would I consider having a child — that's if we can afford the hefty price tag that comes along with it.
Well, the joke's on me.
Located in Newton, a standard package at Kai Suites will set you back $12,000, including a three-month pre-natal programme, a seven-day stay in (with the option of 30 days or more), and a three-month post-natal programme where you'll be taught how to properly care for and bathe a baby as well as breastfeeding techniques.
There are specially-curated exercise programmes for different stages of pregnancy and post-delivery, and a week’s worth of traditional Javanese jamu wraps available for mums who want to tone the abdominal area and get back in shape after giving birth.
According to the interview with Kevin Kwee, co-founder of Kai Suites, mums will be treated to "Michelin-star style" meals prepared by doctors, nutritionists and chefs during their stay. The kitchen can also cater a romantic dinner or a full family meal for up to eight people to welcome the newest addition to the family.
That's not all. A full butler service will be available during the stay, complete with salon and wellness sessions. You can get your hair and facials done or meditate to reset your mind and body while your baby is taken care of by a team of experienced ex-maternity ward staff.
There are only 18 suites and 80 staff on the premises, so every mum and baby is assured of the attention and care needed during their stay.
IS STAYING IN A CONFINEMENT CENTRE WORTH IT?
For regular folks, hiring a confinement nanny will cost you anywhere between $2,100 to $5,000 for a full-time nanny who will be staying over at your house for a month.
This is not inclusive of the red packets to be given before and after the confinement, which is about $30 to $200 each, and transport costs.
We've not even included grocery and electric bills which will increase during this period due to excessive cooking and washing and an extra room with the air conditioner or fan turned on every night.
If you're looking to sign up for pre-natal and post-natal classes, it'll range from $80 per hour for a breastfeeding and newborn care course to $895 per couple for antenatal group classes.
Even though these amounts add up to half of the standard package at Kai Suites, what you'll be getting is the convenience of having everything you'll need under one roof, thereby assuring that your body gets enough rest before you embark on your motherhood journey, full-on.
If push gifts are becoming popular, then this could be a gift for couples who can afford the luxury.