Evidently, steady birth rates, new ideas about parenting and higher spending power all provide Guangzhou with excellent conditions for the right kind of maternity care. So says Ms Zhang, General Manager of a confinement club in Guangdong, who believes that confinement clubs themselves are coming of age.
In the past, women mostly stayed home for their month-long confinement after childbirth. However, recently, confinement clubs for new mothers and their newborn babies have mushroomed in several parts of the country. Investors in Guangzhou have been quick to tap this growing ‘baby economy’. Confinement clubs charge tens of thousands of yuan for their services, but demand is still keen. In fact, it’s not easy to secure a bed in such places, which underlines how positive the outlook is in Guangzhou.
Figures from the Statistics Bureau in Guangdong Province show a comparison between the 6th national population census carried out in 2010 and the 5th in 2000, with Guangdong’s population increasing by 17.8 million. That’s up more than 20% with an annual growth rate of 1.9%, which is higher than the national average.
Apart from a steady birth rate, young people’s concepts about spending and parenting have also changed. That’s an important reason for the rapid development of confinement clubs in Guangzhou, said Ms Zhang. “Postpartum confinement allows women to recover physically and mentally after giving birth. Proper care during this period does the body a lot of good. Many young parents have very different ideas about spending than people of an older generation,” Zhang explained.
Zhang is an old hand in this business, having worked in confinement clubs in Beijing, Shenzhen and other cities. She noted that postpartum depression is very common in first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. “Many expectant mothers in big cities set very high standards for themselves and when they see the change in their figure after childbirth, they lose confidence in themselves, which makes them afraid to return to work.” Confinement clubs can help them get back into shape and professional counselling can help them to overcome postpartum depression, said Zhang.
Hospitals and clubs in demand
There are two predominant types of confinement facilities in Guangzhou – those set up in private hospitals and independent specialised clubs. Both types are said to be successful.
Guangzhou Elizabeth Women’s Hospital deluxe surroundings
As a private institution, Elizabeth Women’s Hospital is a luxury establishment just like a five-star hotel and all its suites have deluxe furnishings. Its three bedroom suites have television, refrigerator and all necessary home appliances, as well as bathroom with jacuzzi.
Medical staff with client
According to Chief Housekeeper Xie Aixin, Elizabeth Women’s Hospital can provide a “one-stop” service from delivery to confinement. The hospital prides itself on client personalisation. “When they spend their confinement in our hospital, our traditional Chinese doctors and dietitians will prepare special menus,” said Xie.
“We are a specialist maternity hospital and have our own team of doctors, nurses and midwives. Our doctors will step in should anything go wrong during the confinement,” said Li Xiang, Head of the hospital’s Customer Services Department.
Many confinement clubs offer additional value-added services to make themselves more attractive.
Yoga exercises in confinement
Elizabeth Women’s Hospital in Guangzhou extends its personalised services to husbands by offering foot massages, shampooing and a range of other services, said Xie. The hospital also offers a seven-day confinement package, which is much cheaper than the usual month-long confinement service.