A woman from a rural area of China has saved over 1 million yuan (US$158,000) working as a nanny for urban mothers and their newborn babies in the first month after birth, a newspaper reported.
It is a custom for Chinese mothers to stay at home for a month after having a child and Li Guoqin’s increasing salary over the years for carrying out the traditional work is a sign of the rising affluence in China’s cities.
Li, 55, used to get paid 2,000 yuan a month and has worked as a nanny for 13 years. She now charges about 14,000 yuan, rising to 20,000 yuan if a couple has twins, Qianjiang Evening News reported..
Li entered the profession in Ningbo in Zhejiang province. The money she has saved over the years has allowed her to pay for her son and daughter to go to university and to buy them homes in Beijing and Wuhan.
The custom of Chinese mothers “sitting the month” involves a complicated set of restrictions and rituals, such as staying indoors, not washing your hair and drinking lots of chicken soup.
The responsibility of caring for mothers used to fall on to the newborns’ grandmothers, but rising incomes have seen affluent couples seeking more professional services, leading to a fast-growing confinement care industry.
A job description on the website of the company Li works for, Ningbo Haishu Lanfu Domestic Service, said confinement ladies clean the mother’s clothes, cook them special postnatal meals and instruct them on breastfeeding.
“Advanced” ladies can also give music education to the newborn, teach the baby to swim and help treat a mother if she has postnatal depression or insomnia.
Li said she often got only two hours’ sleep a night, but the biggest challenge came from picky parents. One client demanded the baby grow exactly 750 grams (1.6 pounds) each month. Another asked her to hand-wash all clothes.
“It is a tough job working as a confinement lady,” Li told the Ningbo Evening Post. “I can’t sleep well. The demands from clients keep getting higher.”
Li said she was planning her retirement so she can take care her of daughter-in-law, who is going to have a baby soon.
“[The hard work] is worth it,” Li was quoted as saying. “I feel very proud and relieved every time I think of my own children.”