I read a rather lousy article about DIY confinement. Okay, it was not all that bad, there were some fair points. Only in Singapore where everyone hires confinement nannies without question that DIY confinement is such a big deal. First of all I would begin the article saying look, many families manage on their own and its perfectly doable. The article also did not discuss much about doing confinement if you have multiple children. Given I’ve undergone two confinements and managed without any hired or family help, this is my advice:
1. If you a first-time mother and never had experience raising children or even being near a newborn, attend Parentcraft sessions at the hospital. My husband went for them during my hospital stay and he became an overnight expert at bathing newborns.
2. Talk ALOT to experienced mothers and grandmothers and ask for their tips and advice. This will help you prepare mentally and keep a few tricks in your bag. Like for example, what to do if your baby has colic.
3. Read ALOT. So you will know what you can expect and also understand better what parenting style suits you. I read practically all the books there was on raising triplets (actually there were only two books) and one of the books were quotations from parents of multiples and it was so helpful to hear their insights and apply their tips and tricks. One of the most important things I learnt was getting the triplets on the same feeding and sleeping schedule from the get-go. Reading parenting blogs is also extremely useful. There were more blogs than books in my case in dealing with triplet newborns.
4. Surf the internet to assemble your baby shopping list. I say this because there are many websites that provide baby shopping lists according to your budget. Some people might want the whole works, or some people like me would only want the minimal, and there are many parenting websites, blogs, and articles that will provide ideas according to your needs. I actually planned shopping from this particular blog who gave a list of baby things you do not need.
5. Whatever you read or find out, share it with your husband. He has to be prepared too. Make sure he understands that you will need a lot of rest and he will have to pick up the slack. I made my husband watch videos.
6. If you are going to breastfeed, and you totally should, you will need a lot of support for a successful breastfeeding journey. There are many organisations in Singapore that provide lactation consultations for free (just google). You can also ask your lactation consultant at the hospital to see you at your home. And you can even go to the nearest polyclinic for help.
7. The sleep deprivation is difficult, which is why every time the baby sleeps, you must sleep. I still find this difficult because I rather go a long stretch without sleep than take naps.
8. Engage family and friends to bring food the first week. Or prepare a big batch of frozen meals before giving birth. Or you can have healthy confinement meals delivered to your door by caterers the entire confinement month. Again just google. We had friends and family bring us food (and they often brought portions that would last a couple of meals) and my husband would alternate between cooking and buying take-out.
9. If you have a toddler like me, you need to prepare activities that will keep your child occupied. But keep them to a routine. Upsetting their routine will cause them to go crazier. Our toddler spends her days and evenings alternating between spending time with me taking care of the triplets, doing arts and crafts, playing with her thousands of toys, watching cBeebies on TV or watching Sesame street on YouTube, and listening/dancing to music. TV and YouTube is more of a last resort thing when they are sick or cranky and you are too tired to deal with their crankiness. I will join her in these activities when the triplets are asleep. I always have meals and sleep with her so I’m still part of her life and she doesn’t feel left out. When her dad returns home, we take turns bringing her out to the playground, going swimming or going on playdates. Its really, really important that they do not feel neglected. You can also put them in a playgroup, which frees up about 3 hours of your time 2-3 times a week. When they return from playgroup, they will inevitably want to sleep from exhaustion, which is another 2-3 hours for yourself.
10. BREATHE. If you ever find yourself in a frustrating situation and you just want to give up, put the baby down, count 1 2 3 and call someone, even if its just to talk. Its okay if the baby is screaming. I usually call my husband and after a short 2-3 min chat or sometimes meltdown, I feel a lot better. Sometimes I whatsapp my friends or talk to them via FB chat. Its important to have a healthy outlet to vent one’s frustrations. And if you really, really need a break, just request the husband take leave from work so you can rest. It is smart to save as much leave days as possible for the confinement month.