Dilemma – postpartum doula, confinement nanny (月嫂) or confinement center (月子中心)?

Coming from an Asian heritage, it is very common to have help postpartum and practice some form of traditional diet that is believed to help you recover faster from the child birth. Being a first time mother, I am more worried about getting help from an experienced newborn child carer than anything else. Can you imagine not knowing how to breast feed right and starving your newborn without knowing? Or knowing how to tend to your newborn needs resulting in endless crying?

I did a bit of research and it seems like there are three options – made up of a combination of western and eastern postpartum:

Postpartum doula

Qualifications: Trained and insured professionals

Tasks: Provide emotional support, guidance to feeding and caring for the newborn, help with light household chores and cooking for the mother, take care of the newborn while mother is resting or running errands

Hours: Help out for a varying number of hours during the day (max 8-10h)

Price: Ranges from $20 – $50 / hour

Pros: Easily found anywhere in the US, there are a number of options even in such a small city in Santa Cruz; Trained and knows what they are doing and you can easily find reviews from past families who have hired them as postpartum doulas

Cons: Expensive and only help out part of the day; if you believe in postpartum traditional diet, doulas are unlikely able to help you with that


Confinement nanny

Qualifications: Often experienced but there is no qualifications

Tasks: In addition to what postpartum doula does, confinement nanny also helps with cooking traditional diet for the mom and sleeps with the baby at night to take care of the baby’s needs to allow the parents to sleep through the night without any interruptions

Hours: Often hired for a month and they work throughout the day with rest intermittently (based on certain sources it claims they only need to rest 3h / day ???!!!)

Price: Ranges from $3000 – $5000 / month + a discretionary bonus at the end of their serving term

Pros: Relatively cheaper compared to the other two options; most comprehensive in terms of the services they offer

Cons: Hard to find one in small cities, and it is often a hit or miss to find a good one; they are not trained and experience they claimed they have might not end up to be always true


Confinement centers

Qualifications: Mix qualifications (some confinement centers hire full time nurse with newborn experience, professional chefs, and experienced confinement nannies)

Tasks: Exactly the same as what a confinement nanny would offer however the care and attention you get for your baby is less as they often will have a nanny or nurse to care for a handful of newborns vs. 1-on-1. However, you won’t have to worry that your confinement nanny gets overly burdened or missing our chores.

Hours: Packaged stay between 26 – 30 days, that includes a room (with a selection – shared bathroom, ensuite, studio, 1-bedroom flat…). You can also choose to stay longer for ~2-3 months.

Price: Ranges from ~$8000 – $15000 / month

Pros: Quite established in larger cities with high Asian community (for me there are a number to choose from in San Jose); less to worry as you will not have to worry about food shopping, preparing a bed for the nanny at home etc.

Cons: Probably the most expensive option, your baby does not get as much attention and could be less comfortable than staying at home


As of now, I am still 6 months away from delivery hence am doing a bit more research and understanding the options I have. Stay tune for my decision.