All you need to know about confinement nannies - With PEM Confinement Nanny Agency

Jes , , 2 Comments

Cannot talk and laugh ah!

PEM confinement review

That's what my grandmother used to say to my mother while she was doing confinement. It's like anything you do (breathe?) will allow 'wind' inside your body, resulting in chills and illnesses after confinement. Very strict practices for the last generation but thankfully, it is no longer this case.

Nowadays, we have confinement nannies who allow mothers to recuperate while they handle your newborn and they will cook nourishing confinement meals. Enter PEM confinement agency, the top choice in Singapore, judging from the amount of positive reviews online. I did not hire a confinement nanny for my first pregnancy and was also thinking of doing my own confinement for my second one. I mean, I should know what to do by now but the top worry for most parents would be how we can manage a newborn and a toddler at the same time.

What I did not expect is how easy a confinement nanny can solve all these problems. Let's start with some basic definitions.

What is a confinement nanny?

They are mostly live-in baby sitters who will stay with the family for 28 days to mainly take care of the newborn baby and mother.

Demographics of nannies
Firstly, confinement nannies from PEM Confinement Agency are usually
  1. Malaysians
  2. 40 to 60 years old female
They have 400+ nannies with them, which I find pretty incredible. They have a training centre in Malaysia to guide all nannies in all aspects regarding the handling of a baby and also in confinement meals.

Job Scope of a nanny
The nanny takes care of the baby and even house work. She will also prepare the mother's confinement meals to allow her to recuperate fully during this period. Some of the chores they are trained to do so include:
  1. They can hand wash all baby clothes, although I am not particular about this and allow for machine wash
  2. Cooking of all confinement meals, red dates tea and shower herbs, and wash the bowls and pots after cooking
  3. They can also cook for your partner and children 
  4. Sweeping, mopping and all laundry related work
  5. All baby related chores such as changing diaper and bathing
  6. Washing of bed linens

Requirements for the nanny
  1. A single mattress with no male staying in the same room
  2. A small area for their luggage and personal items
  3. A red packet on first and last day ($30 is the market rate)
  4. 2 hours of nap or rest every day
  5. At least 3 meals for them
2 hours of nap is very reasonable considering they are waking up at night to change the baby. Although I did full latch on without using bottle every night, the nanny will carry the baby to my room and wake me up to feed the baby. I just have to side latch the baby and then go back to sleep.

List of confinement ingredients
You will have to buy some food for your own confinement so that the nanny can cook for you. There is more flexibility in choosing what food you would like and have them served piping hot every day. Some ingredients you can buy include the table I consolidated below.

Some people believe you should not eat chicken or eggs as they are considered toxic especially for C-Sect mothers.  However, many studies and western culture have shown that these proteins can actually accelerate the recover process, likewise for beef and duck meat. For foods to avoid, those on the list are mainly considered 'cooling' food. In the case of seafood, it is to be avoided because most seafood traps bacteria and you run higher risk of infection, thereby hampering healing of the wound.

The popular dog brand of black vinegar for braised pig's trotters

Contractual agreements
Coming down to the most important issue which is cost:
  1. Contract price of a lived-in confinement nanny: $2800 - $3000 for 28 days
  2. Deposit is $850
  3. Government levy is $60 a month for Singaporean babies and $265 for foreigners. 
  4. If you are unhappy or if the nanny is sick, you can request to change them up to 2 times and the replacement will arrive within 2 working days
  5. Upon admission to hospital, you will have to call PEM to have the nanny on stand by. The nannies will report to work on the first day you return from hospital from 2 to 5pm and leave on the last day (Day 28) before 12pm.

Optional add-on - $380 + 1 year free Hockhua membership
All these will be brought along with the nanny on the first day if you intend to add this to your package.

1) Confinement Herbal Package 

Included in the bags are 28 individually packed herbs where the nanny just need to add water and boil them for your soups intake daily. As they are all herbs, it will taste less like soup, but more like nourishing tonics. In my opinion, they are generally quite bitter due to the herbs but you can add in some pork ribs or other ingredients to sweeten them. To find out more about the entire list of herbs, click here.

2) Herbal Bath herbs 

These herbs ensure mothers to expel wind, improve blood circulation and reduce pain. You will feel quite hot after bathing in it and these herbs also will prevent wind or chills especially when you step out of the shower.

3) Red dates tea with herbs

Red dates are known to be high in iron and nutrients to replenish the lost bleed and can prevent water retention in mothers. Other nutritious herbs such as tungshen and ginseng are also included with red dates in the package, and 1 pack (Around 1litres of water) should be sufficient for a day.

Review of the confinement package
I like the flexibility of asking the nanny to cook a certain dish that you like. If I am sick of rice, I can have noodles. I can also request for a certain dish to be cooked a certain way. The best part of it is, food is always served piping hot!

Some dishes my nanny cooked:

A standard confinement meal

 A typical meal consists of rice, vegetable, meat and a bowl of herbal soup. Most nannies would cook mainly fish for the first 2 weeks as they are more nourishing and beneficial for the recovering mother.
A wide variety of fish dishes
When you are sick of rice, you can also request for noodles or sandwiches. Depending on the skills of your nanny, I think she would be happy to oblige.

Some noodle dishes, huai shan and french beans

Honestly, confinement food is usually not very rich in taste as only sesame oil is used in the cooking which creates a strong taste. This is due to the confinement practice of making sure your recuperation after delivery is smooth and effective. By the third week, some salt can be added and they will usually cook braised pig's trotter and hongzao chicken. I think these food, coupled with the bitter soup are very effective in helping me get rid of wind and regain my figure!

Tips to get along well with your nanny
1) Communicate
Same as your partner, nobody can read your mind, so it is best to let her know how you want things to be done. Don't bottle it up because you might be surprised about the logic behind the nanny's way of doing things.
2) Give trust and flexibility
If you don't trust her, don't employ her, simple as that. I am sure you would not be happy if your boss keep monitoring your every move. Let her do things her way because the kitchen is no longer your turf. Give them time to get used to the things around the house and your preferences, allow them to make mistakes because they are just human.
3) Take care of her
The nanny is your employee but that does not mean you can over work her. They are not your personal maid and should not be loaded with too much house work. It is best to give them ample rest so that they can provide optimal attention and care to your newborn. After all, she is a caregiver who dedicates herself to you and your baby for 28 days, it is appreciable to make sure she has a comfortable stay.

Nannies are more suitable for
1) Big families - If you have other child or children, a nanny focuses her efforts on the newborn so that your remaining time and energy can still be spent on your other children. The nanny can also cook for all your children.
2) New mothers - Don't know how to bathe the baby or not sure when the baby is hungry, needs burping or a change of diaper? Learn the tricks from the nanny and handle the baby like a pro afterwards.
3) Twins - I can barely handle a baby alone so if you have twins, a confinement nanny would be a great help to you. Take note that PEM Confinement takes in a limited number of twins per month and does not handle triplets or more.

What I am happy with
My friends who engaged freelance nannies have told me some complaints so I had lowered my expectations. One of them asked to buy another brand of warmer because she does not know how to use it! Another never had the initiative to take charge whenever the baby cries. Yet another ate so much food and herbs, much more than the mother. That is the headache about hiring freelancers, you never know what to expect and you can't change them.

Thankfully, I did not have any such complaints.

My nanny Evon (#697), really went above and beyond her normal services. She separately washed the baby clothes by hand even though I do not mind washing them together with our clothes. She insisted to cook for my parents or parents-in-law when they come to visit and did not mind the extra work. She allowed me to have ample rest and put me at ease on her handling of my baby. She mopped the floor every day, and took initiative in doing all the housework. I did not have to ask her to do anything at all, she just walked right in and took charge, so I know I can safely trust my newborn with her.

Towards the end of the confinement, she even suggested I have a date night with my husband! A very considerate and kind nanny indeed.

What can be improved
Nannies should have modern adaptability in confinement practices without losing their traditional methods. The traditional confinement nanny does not encourage us to wash our hair during this period and so did my nanny. She did advise me to keep my hair unwashed but I have already done so on the first day after my delivery.

Honestly, I would rather eat confinement meals, especially those from Tian Wei. This is because confinement meals focus on taste while for my nanny's cooking, she does not use any salt and goes heavy on ginger and sesame oil. I am sure these aspects are great for some mums but for me, I don't really like ginger and rather have tasty meals to look forward to.

Truly, money solves all problems even though it's only for a month. I got optimal rest, my body recovered faster and was not as stressed over the arrival of a newborn or house work.

Most importantly, I could have more time with my older daughter and husband. I think the money spent is well worth it.

Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with PEM confinement agency but the reviews are solely my own personal opinions.  Like me on Facebook to be updated on more pregnancy and family finance issues. 


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  1. Hi, thank you for sharing your experience. I have just requested services from PEM for mid this year. Your nanny sounds fantastic, I was wondering if you could let me know what languages she could speak, as my parter is not Chinese so hoping to find a bilingual (english) nanny. Looking forward to hearing from you!

  2. Hi there,

    I think she speaks mainly Chinese and doesn't really know English. Probably you can request from PEM and they will assign someone suitable. All the best!


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