Being a new mum is tough. During pregnancy, our hormones go on an endless rollercoaster ride, our mood’s out of whack, we’re sleep-deprived. And there’re just so many feelings.
Giving birth smoothly is a huge relief; but with barely enough time to catch our breath, we now have to nurse our bodies back to good health and have a little one we need to care for. It is a whole new learning curve with no respite.
By Day 3 and Day 4 post-pregnancy, our hormones that skyrocketed to help us cope with birthing take a serious nosedive. Progesterone and estradiol levels drop dramatically, which are found to be linked to postpartum depression. Corticosteroids also decrease significantly, making new mummies more emotionally vulnerable.
Postpartum confinement help in Singapore
As a first-time pregnant mother myself, I quickly learned that postpartum confinement help is mandatory for your sanity. The typical option is to hire a good confinement nanny, and so I did — to help ease my husband and I into new parenthood.
Like most anxious Singaporean mums, I began my research into the world of confinement nannies. I stalked parenthood forums, read articles, reviews and asked my mummy friends. The general practice in Singapore is to hire a stay-in nanny, who is typically an older, experienced lady and she would stay the entire one-month duration of the confinement period. Her role would include baby feeding and care, preparation of confinement meals, light laundry and general support.
To my alarm, I didn’t have to look very far to find “horror stories” of nannies. Every mother I spoke with either experienced first-hand or knew stories of nannies who slacked off, hardly fulfilled their duties, or did something unforgivable. Some did not even turn up as promised, leaving poor new parents scrambling to pick up the pieces.
Alas, it’s also not easy to pick out the better ones, as the standard of care varies widely across the board. It is very much dependent on an individual nanny’s expertise. Hiring a good and reliable nanny seems to be down to the luck of the draw, so when Kai suites reached out for a media tour, I was excited to see what they could offer.
Alternative, luxury postpartum care
I arrived at a nondescript gray building at 26 Dunearn Road, which I later learned was a heritage site of the former Singapore Family Planning and Population Board. Upon entering the building, I was greeted by a warm and modern interior.
We were introduced to Kevin Kwee, the passionate and entrepreneurial founder of Kai Suites. As a father of four, he understands that the confinement period is a crucial time for a mother’s recovery and is too important to be left to chance. With a background in hospitality, real estate, F&B and printing, he hopes to create a luxury post-partum experience that’s one-of-a-kind here in Singapore. “KAI” symbolizes triumph, rest and restoration in Japanese — befitting of a mother’s courage and sacrifice in the entire pregnancy and birth process.
We were brought on a lovely tour of the hotel. It seemed that every detail of guest experience has been carefully thought through. From the time the mother and baby are discharged from the hospital, a limousine service would fetch them straight to Kai Suites, where they would be given a personalized welcome kit. Both mother and child will be RFID tagged and escorted to their suites.
Confinement care by a team of experienced nurses
A team of nurses with at least 10 years of experience each work shifts to provide 24-hour postpartum care for mother and baby. This ensures that the level of care provided for Kai Suites guests is always optimal, a contrast to a stay-in confinement nanny who may tire out midday as the sole person responsible for postpartum care services.
With a staff to guest ratio of 3:1, Kai Suites engages a full battalion to keep new mums as rested and comfortable as possible. The nursery is also equipped with surveillance cameras so parents can observe their newborns while resting or doing other activities.
Other pampering perks for new mums include lactation massages — provided twice a week — for those who are breastfeeding. For mothers who do not breastfeed, formula milk is available on standby. Each afternoon, nurses conduct an educative baby care session with Kai Suite guests, bringing new parents through lessons on breastfeeding and tips on how to ready your home for your infant.
A complimentary herbal bath, specially concocted by the hotel, is also provided for mothers. Diapers and laundry services are provided free-of-charge during the stay, making the experience fuss-free and relaxing.
Luxurious, private hotel suites
The hotel suites are located privately on the second floor at KAI Suites — with a total of 4 Premium and 14 Deluxe suites. The Japanese-inspired modern interiors provide a zen, luxurious environment for new parents to stay and rest in. Access to private suites are restricted to parents only — other members of the family like in-laws, grandparents, siblings are not allowed to stay. This is to safeguard a peaceful and calming ambience for new mothers recuperating there.
The Premium and Deluxe Suites feature King and Queen-sized beds respectively. Both suites have a smart TV equipped with Netflix and YouTube to provide entertainment for new mummies and daddies.
A full-sized Bosch fridge is installed in each hotel suite, providing ample space for storing breastmilk.
There is also a private lounge for mothers only, to breastfeed and interact with other new mums. This gives excited new mothers a space to interact and give each other mutual support, helping to reduce stress and risk of post-natal depression.
The tranquil and supportive environment provide abundant benefits to both mum and baby — especially in terms of breastfeeding. Many new mums find this challenging, and lack of breastmilk produced is often due to stress. As a testament to this, Kwee tells us that all guests so far have had smooth-sailing breastfeeding experiences.
Jamu massage, bengkung wrap packages available
Another issue new mothers have to grapple with is their post-pregnancy body. After childbirth, the tummy remains enlarged and the skin can become loose and crinkled. Other post-partum problems include body aches, pelvic floor/urinary issues, fatigue, headaches.
Kai Spa and Aesthetics provide in-house packages for jamu massages and bengkung wraps to help restore skin and body to its pre-pregnancy state as much as possible. Experienced masseuses provide customized services to maximise the effectiveness of the herbs for each mother.
The newly opened Kai Aesthetics also has an in-house doctor to provide aesthetic services such as skin tightening, body contouring, pelvic muscle tightening and vaginal tightening using state-of-the-art equipment.
After all, getting back in shape is a foremost concern for most new mums and these add-on services provide solutions for that — without stepping out of Kai Suites at all.
Other additional services that can be arranged for a fee include a newborn photoshoot, your baby’s full-month celebration — and even a wedding anniversary surprise.
Kai Cusine’s East-meets-West confinement food
The hotel provides three meals and three snacks a day, including postpartum beverages, for the mother. Fathers may opt for non-confinement meals at the lounge. This might seem like a lot — but truth is, breastfeeding mums need an additional 500 calories more than the average person, according to HPB.
Painstakingly researched and developed by a team comprising a dietary scientist and culinary chefs, Kai Suites has synthesized the best of Eastern medical traditions and Western gastronomy to produce a uniquely Singaporean array of over 600 confinement food recipes. New mothers can rejoice at the prospect of actually enjoying a beautiful variety of confinement meals over their stay, and feel comforted that they are nourishing their bodies at the same time.
We were invited to taste the confinement food. We were served a mix of dishes, including traditional confinement recipes such as pig trotter vinegar and Korean seaweed soup, and other more experimental dishes with a Western touch, such as sous vide-grilled chicken and homemade wheat noodles.
Our verdict? We would happily eat this — confinement or no.
They were scrumptious. We could almost taste the nourishing goodness of each dish — made possible only by fresh, quality ingredients. The mindful cooking techniques allowed us to sample a taste of the dish’s natural flavors. I particularly enjoyed the red date tea beverage, which was flavorfully brewed with natural ingredients. Needless to say, we polished everything off our plates.
As we spoke to Kwee and team over lunch, it’s clear that their confinement food was the crown jewel of the hotel. Following the TCM principles of 一休二排三调四健养 — healing, detoxification, restoration and nourishment — each meal is specially tailored to the mother’s needs for each stage of her recovery.
In the first week postpartum, the focus is on wound recovery and healing. The food provided would be as light and natural as possible to promote easy digestion and reduce water retention. Food techniques used would be braising and steaming, with a focus on soup-based dishes.
The focus shifts to detoxification, replenishing blood supply and improving milk supply in the second week. The cooking techniques used for this week’s food include sauteed, baked and grilled dishes with stronger flavours and herbs.
For those who want to enjoy Kai Suites’ premium confinement food in your own homes; rejoice — they offer a 28-day confinement food delivery programme that starts from $3,500. This includes two daily meals — lunch and dinner — delivered to you fresh out of the kitchen twice daily.
Luxury’s price tag
Of course, luxury like this comes with a matching price tag. Be prepared to shell out $25,000 for a 28-day stay in a Deluxe Suite — priced in accordance to luxury hotel rates.
This is a whopping five to six times the cost of hiring a confinement nanny (traditionally the only option for new mums in Singapore). Bear in mind though, that the cost does include a post-partum luxury staycay, 24-hour professional nurse care for you and your baby and does a pretty amazing job serving up your three meals per day. Other pampering frills also include their twice-a-week lactation massages and herbal baths.
Is the price tag justifiable and will Singaporeans jump on the luxury confinement bandwagon? Other Asian countries like Taiwan, China and Korea clearly already have.
I guess it’s down to you: how much you’re able and willing to pay for a pampering wellness treat. A reward for getting through childbirth. If you’re the type who stresses easily, won’t get enough rest at your own home and worries about breastfeeding and confinement nanny horror stories — perhaps Kai Suites is a good option to consider for you.
After all, mental well-being and peace of mind is something that you can’t quite put a price tag on.
Cherissa is a former lawyer who decided that she would be more effective outside the courtroom. She is currently juggling the pursuit of both a Masters in Communications and the most challenging career yet — motherhood.