CONFINEMENT CHRONICLES • Samantha Yauyin


Questions for the centre:

How does the postpartum hotel support mothers after their stay has expired? Do they get in touch with the mother via email or phone?

I’m just feeling surprised that the centre did not provide any form of connection with me anymore after I checking out. To reply to your question, no email, phone call or text message was received after my stay. Despite my review, the experience was positive. However, it is true the centre staff only ask mothers to rate their experience based on the stay, not the experience once you've checked out.

Do you teach the family (if attended) ways in which they can support the new mother?

During my stay at the centre, all family members (including my own parents, siblings & in laws) were not allowed to join us on the room floor. The only exception was my husband & my firstborn that was offered to stay-in together. Support on nursing, baby choking, bathing and washing baby, massaging baby, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and more were provided in the package of stay, I remember almost every time my husband was invited to join and learn. Turned out he is still a great helping hand with washing & baby hygiene.

How are the meal plans curated? Are there any meals specific to gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant, vegan friendly? This might be interesting for you too as you studied nutrition as well?

The meal plan basically provided choices that were just pork-free for Muslim, no meat options for vegetarians, and dairy or nut allergies to avoid. But I loved their meal plans so much! Portion & variety was good, and taste is very good; not oily or salty. Oh! And they were very generous with the abundance of savory soups, herbal teas, and herbal soups they provided. 

How do they deal with families with older kids? Are they all allowed to visit?

It is a hotel building, families and visitors will meet the mother at the facilities floor with cosy sofa free coffee & tea flow, newspaper reading. The newborn is not allowed to leave the confinement floor, otherwise newborn will be placed in the quarantine room for at least 3 days for further observation. This includes any newborn that first comes to the confinement centre, and any newborn that has been in contact with outsiders.

Questions for your experience:

Does the postpartum care centre provide you any support after your stay, for example postnatal depression helpline or support groups available?

The postpartum care centre did not provide any further support after the stay, no mothers' group was organised, no helpline, and the support team did not contact me. If mother's would like further support, mothers would only be able to reach the centre manager.

Did you feel like the postnatal care centre was what you expected? What fell short of your expectations and what came in above your expectations?

I was very satisfied with the room and food. Somehow, I still felt some lacking in the professionalism of the support team. Maybe this is the culture here, as there was obvious issues within management hierarchy within the staff. The room cleaner and meal dispatch helper would greet and talk to me nicely the 1st week of my stay, and shortly after a while, they would slowly complain to me about the work stress from upper management. And the nurses in the baby room were very reluctant to chat with the baby's mother, most information about baby was recorded in the case note. Any questions about the baby from the mother will be attended by the nurse-in-charge during her shift. She is more professional as she was a qualified ED nurse, however she handled 20-25 mothers at the same time! (During my stay there were 18 mothers. My stay was during the non peak season) I guess I am lucky, as she was ED nurse in a private hospital that I had previously been employed at as a patient relations executive, we have some mutual friends and we are keeping touch for some life updates.

What were you favourite things about the confinement centre?

My favourite thing about the confinement centre is that I am myself again! Given the centre is totally nice and cozy space to occupy, I was supported by people I needed,  and also got me outside of my routine. No one asked me where things in the house were, laundry wasn't an issue, and no one was disturbing my peace (both physically & socially). In the centre, everyone asked for your permission! For example; can I book your time? Can I see you? Can I hear from you? Do you want us help?... everything was revolving my preference, my feelings, my sleep schedule, my rest, my appetite, and most importantly - my recovery. My baby was the last thing to even worry about, as the baby’s routine was very clearly documented on the case notes.

What were you least favourite things about it? What could they have improved on?

My least favorite thing about the centre was the relationship stress between the support team and management. Otherwise, the experience was very close to perfect. Oh! And the community that the centre could formed for the mothers to reunite again and connect after the stay is lacking as well.



What was the food like, did you enjoy it?

The meal plan was curated based on Taiwan-Chinese with modern cooking. The food was not deep fried, and no greasy oil was utilised. I really loved their food. The meal plan consisted of 28 days with no repeat dishes. I asked them for their black soybean recipe, as it was lightly sweetened and served hot in the morning! But there was no secret about that actually.

How did you feel you were supported emotionally, mentally, and physically at the confinement center?

Emotionally, I leaned on my elder sister Emily a lot! She has always been the one that “would understand me”. I also leaned a bit more on the nurse-in-charge. She spent time checking on my routine in the quiet room where I was confined, talking to me about her routine with other mothers, she also let me discuss and plan about who and where I can find support after my stay expired. Otherwise, it was  myself putting time aside to watch some work-related documentary to distract me from stressing over my body shape, scar, and missing my firstborn at home. Luckily there was no emotional breakdown during that time.

How did you feel as you transitioned home? Did you feel empowered and confident or did it feel like a lot of support was suddenly taken away?

I felt emotional immediately even during the final 2 days before leaving the centre, there were expectations of me already from my husband & in laws. I would love to stay in Johor for another month, but I was concerned of appearing too fragile or weak to my super tough in laws eyes. My in laws love comparing privileges, we modern ladies already have to time the postnatal. And to host a full moon party and show my not-ready-body-shape exposing to all relatives’ eyes. They asked about milk flow, asked about how much I've spent on the bills, who will sacrifice to take care of the newborn after, however not many showed their concern about caring to my recovery & wellbeing. Stress level was raised to 200%, and I cried a lot at nighttime to myself, just feeling miserable & mistreated (but maybe this was because I was being demanding). Throughout my time in Johor, I was not happy at all if not for the in laws support arranged by my husband. Then my Melbourne trip is a closure I drew to my confinement period before returning to the workforce and mentally putting a stop to this fragile period of me.



What support did you receive when you went home? From family or hired help.

I tried taking care of my newborn myself day & night from the beginning, until I drained out and came down with a fever during the 1st week home. My mother-in-law took over the baby’s night shift, & father-in-law was for day shift. How blessed I am to still have food on the table for me. But I tried to help with housework, laundry and doing dishes like a normal daughter. Inside me, I wish I’d be conscious enough to extend my stay at the confinement centre longer. 

See Instagram post here.