Friday, 23 March 2012

Pregnancy across 3 continents

I am 28 weeks pregnant with our second baby. I am an expat and will have been out of South Africa (my home country) for 3 years on May 13th. I conceived our first child and spent the first 13 weeks of my pregnancy in South Africa, then moved to the United Kingdom and spent the remainder of my first pregnancy in England. This time around, we conceived baby in Cebu and I have spent the entire pregnancy thus far (save one weeks holiday in Hong Kong) in the Philippines.

I prefer midwife care during pregnancy and so have experience with working with 3 groups of midwives thus far, the South African home birth midwife, the English community midwives and now Cebuano Birth Centre midwives.

My experience with all three groups has been a pleasant one, I don't think its fair to compare them as each individual midwife will have her own way of working. My SA midwife knew me personally pre-pregnancy as I had worked with her as a doula during some home/birthing centre births. She taught me all I know about water birth for which I am eternally grateful as my daughter was born in water. My english midwife was one of the most gentle kind woman I have ever met, she spoke so softly and was just so relaxed it was such a pleasure being under her care during my pregnancy. My current team of midwives have very varied personalities, one is gentle, one is strong. I am hoping to have my "gentle" midwife at my babies birth but am glad to know that if need be the "strong" midwife is there to oversee and guide over any serious complications.

All 3 sets have had a focus on staying active, eating healthy and being positive about pregnancy and birth. My UK midwives joined my husband and I at our home for the birth of our daughter when I was in active labour. They were in my space but not in my face which I appreciated. The PH is different, we will go into the birthing centre when ready and I will be given the space and time to labour alone in my private room for as long as it takes. When I am ready to push, I will go to the delivery room and inform my midwife who will then prep for the birth. Immediate separation of mom/baby and cord clamping is practiced routinely here which I am against, however I have been assured that this will not happen with us and this has been discussed with the birthing team. I am left to now trust that what has been said will be done.

I have approximately 12 weeks left of this pregnancy and am in good health. I am looking forward to labouring and birthing this baby into the world. I am still processing and working through some thoughts in my head, I know I cannot control any situation but I do feel I can prepare for it.

 I read something along these lines recently which has really stuck with me:
I am the only person who can birth this baby into the world and for this I take full responsibility

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Getting baby to rotate to avoid back labour, simple solutions

Incidentally I sleep in the side lying pillow between my knees position, I find it most comfortable. If you don't have a birth ball yet, get one, remember that when sitting on an inflated birth ball your knees should be lower than your hips. Birth balls are not only good for labour and pre-natal exercise but they can also be used post-partum to rock the baby on. We did a lot of bouncing and rocking with our newborn on our birth ball. It takes up less space than a rocking chair, is cheaper and can be moved around with you if need be.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Helpful and positive labour and birth preparation

Looking for some breathing exercises this morning, I came across this gem. I have done the exercises along with the video and my baby is now awake and moving. A bit of oxygen to your body does wonders.

I have already been able to practice some labour breathing as I experience braxton-hicks on a regular basis especially at night time. Deep regular breathing has become second nature which I am glad about. Having had the opportunity to watch a number of labouring mother's move through strong active labour into transition and finally pushing their babies out, the women who concentrate on their breath, who take deep slow breaths remain calmer. It's a helpful coping strategy. Give it a go. Try if possible to get your labour partner to practice these breathing techniques too, as they will be able to redirect your breath if needed.

This is my second pregnancy and I found this birth affirmation video during my first, I watched it often and find it really relaxing and empowering. I share it now with you.

Stay well.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Burlesque Breastfeeding promotional vid on youtube

I stumbled across this pearler this morning. As you do on the internet.

I like it, I really do,
the lyrics are catchy
like the flu!

But seriously, you sexy-sassy-breastfeeding-women rock!

*singing (quietly to herself as tot is napping) baby loves mommas breast...*


Apple Dumplings, Angel Cakes, Bongo Baps & Betty Boops
Cherry Pies, Charlies, Coconuts & Cantaloupes
Doobies, Dingoes, Dairies, Fleshy Flappers, Gags & Globes
Happy Hangers, Hemispheres & Heavy Hilly Homes

You make the milk, so don't let it go to waste
Woman let your baby enjoy that yummy taste

Baby loves Mamma's breast because her milk tastes the best and it beats all the rest
Baby loves Mamma's milk, when its time to re-fuel
Dontcha know how it's cool

Igloos, Jubblies, Juggernaughts, Jumbo Jugs & Jelly Jibs
Kettledrums, Kazoogas, Kumquats, Knockers & Kids
Lollies, Lemons, Lactoids, Love Cushions & Loaves
Mambo, Mammeries, Macaroons, Melons, Mounds & Mangos

You make the milk and can take it any place
Woman, let your body be your baby's saving grace

Baby loves Mamma's breast because her milk tastes the best and it beats all the rest
Baby loves Mamma's milk, when it's time to re-fuel
Dontcha know how it's cool

Nunga Nungas, Nectarines, Noogies, Norks & Nancies Nibs
Oobies, Oompas, Oranges, Palookers, Pillows & Pips
Quarts of Love, Rib Balloons, Snobs, Scones & Sweater Swellers
Totos, Tangerines, Twinies, Taddies, Tits & Tooters

You make the milk and it's ready all the time
Woman, make that tummy fat be on the downward climb

Baby loves Mamma's breast because her milk tastes the best and it beats all the rest
Baby loves Mamma's milk, when it's time to re-fuel
Dontcha know how it's cool

Tonsils, Teats, Twangers, Tweakers, Tortillas & Torpedoes
Upper Decks, Volcanoes, Wahwah & Winnebagos
Watermelons, Weather Balloons, some Wongas & Front Wings
Yabbos, Yams, Yard Dogs, some Yayas & Zeppelins

You make the milk, throw the thick stuff in the bin
Woman open up those breasts and let the health shine in

Baby loves Mamma's breast because her milk tastes the best and it beats all the rest
Baby loves Mamma's milk, when it's time to re-fuel
Dontcha know how it's cool. -- Repeat x2

12 weeks tomorrow and starting to feel it.

I am one of those women who start showing from the moment they fall pregnant, okay maybe not the moment, but by 6 weeks I have a discernible baby bump. So by 12 weeks, there is no question about it, there is a baby on board. I like this for the most part, I like wearing maternity clothes (any excuse to wear super comfortable clothing is a plus in my books), I like having the physical reminder at arms length for feeling under the weather. It also means that the stretching and pulling and growing and aching starts early for me... like today early. Fun :) Lucky for me I have already made a rice sock which comes in handy. (Take a long sock, like a hockey or rugby sock, fill with rice, heat up in the microwave as needed **not too hot, direct heat is not good for your baby**).

Whoa today I have had my first experience of "ptyalism", commonly known as too much saliva in the mouth. For a while today I felt like I was sucking lemons, you know that scrunch-up-your-face-mouth-filling-with-spit feeling, yes that. Not fun. No thanks. I find that drinking lots of water helps (seems counter-intuitive I know).

I am glad to be moving out of first trimester soon, and into second, second is fun.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My second expat pregnancy - another interesting journey lies ahead.

We have been in the Philippines for roughly 7 months now and decided when our first born turned 2 recently that it was time to try for another baby. I find it difficult to decide on spacing between children, what is a good age gap? What is too far apart? I want them to be friends but have their own lives and friends too.

We started trying in September and I got a positive home pregnancy test result at the beginning of October, blessed, a little shocked at how quickly it all happened but happy.

I started my first pregnancy in South Africa with midwife care, moved to the UK and had my daughter at home in water with midwife care in October 2009. I am looking for the same level of care, the same gentle approach and understanding that I have only ever found with a midwife. So the search began for a home birthing midwife here.

My search has so far been unsuccessful but I am keeping my options open as my number one choice is still a home birth. I went for the mandatory first check up with an OB, she did the tests (bloods, urinalysis, pap smear), I was only about 7 weeks at the time. During our appointment it came to light that she has family who work with my husband, when dh went back to work he was greeted with a hearty congratulations. Plans to go back to said OB.

I did a trust google search for midwives in my area and came across information for a birthing centre nearby. Dh and I went in last week monday to "see", I walked through a narrow path between dark buildings scattered with small children playing and cockerels crowing their obligatory objections and wondered to myself what I should expect. We found the birthing centre which is more of a birth house and ventured inside. You have to leave all your "slippers" a.k.a. slops/flip flops/shoes in the first room.

This was like nothing I have ever experienced before, it is clean, it is welcoming, it is filled with newborn babies and their tired but happy parents but it does not have that rigid hospital white walls, regimented feel to it. The first thing that I found overwhelming was the smell, no disinfectant ammonia smell here, its a natural heady powerful mixture of human beings and birth, took some getting used to. Bear in mind I am in my first trimester and my sense of smell is ridiculous.

We sat expecting to just have a quick chat with a midwife when they had a moment, from what I could tell they had 2 maybe 3 moms in active labour at the time. I was welcomed into the pre-natal room, a functional cubicle with a scale, bed, fan and table/chair for midwife and 2 chairs for visitors. The midwife's name is K, her mom is the head midwife/owner at this birthing centre. She is lovely, she is gentle and talks to me for a good 10 minutes about the pregnancy and the birthing centre, she weighs me (only picked up 150 grams and in week 10), does my BP (100/60) and palpates a bit but decides that its too early to feel anything or hear a HB so she'll do that next time. She allayed any fears I was harboring and put me right at ease. If I had wondered up until that point why I was there, why I was so adamant about midwife care, K just re-inforced my belief in midwife-led, women-centred care. I walk out soon thereafter (after a vit B shot which did wonders for my 1st tri-mester fatigue) knowing that even though this is not my home country, I will receive the  best care possible.

That was last week. I went back today for another shot and met with the owner/namesake of the birthing centre (M) and honestly I felt a little star struck. (Bear in mind that this women is living my dream, running a birthing centre, surrounded by birth everyday). This birthing centre does not turn women away, poverty is a real everyday life circumstance here and families do not have the *P100 000+ for a hospital birth. M was telling me today that just this week she assisted a mom deliver her 7.5 month preemie, the baby was so strong that it didn't require hospitalisation/incubation. M tells me that her role in the centre is to assist with the difficult deliveries (breech/multiples/preemies etc.) and I have read an online account of how she helped deliver a baby boy quickly and safely who was in a spot of trouble. She is no nonsense but she is good. Imagine the information that this women knows. Imagine what she could teach you. I would love to learn from her.

*If you were wondering about the cost, all pre-natal care (except for vits) is free. The birth costs P3600 for a first time mom and P3000 for a second time + mom. If you want a private room P600 for 24 hours, if baby needs help/antibiotics due to meconium staining P4000... the birth will at no point cost more than P10 000. Yes a massive difference from the hospitals P100 000+ and I have also read and been told that hospitals routinely section foreigners here because their "babies are too big", my first was 2.9kg (not big at all). I am shocked at the price difference, our medical insurance would cover a hospital birth but it seems so massively inflated. Why? That's a post for another day I suppose.

So my second pregnancy has gotten off to a tiring but happy start, I find myself wondering about what will happen when its time to birth this baby, with the moving from here to there. Luckily I still have a good 29 weeks wrap my head around it.

Pregnancy Stats:
Week: 11 according to LMP
Weight gain: 150 grams
Strongest symptoms: Fatigue!!!! Nausea from strong smells.
Babies current nickname: Belly baby
Guestimated baby sex: I don't know but those who are guessing are saying a boy.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Exclusive Breastfeeding in the Workplace - Philippines

We now live in the Philippines, have been for the past 5 months. It is a wonderful country filled with happy and friendly people. Also filled with poverty, heartbreaking gut wrenching poverty, which is in your face on a daily basis.

Women have babies, women need to work (its literally a life or death scenario), ALL babies deserve to be breastfed. When I first arrived I was shocked at the amount of formula available... aisles dedicated to the stuff. Plus the expense... over PHP1000 per can. Some woman who work as nannies only earn between PHP2000 and PHP3000 per month!!! (That is why formula gets watered down). Plus they leave their babes at home to go work in the cities. What ever happened to basic human rights for infants? They have the right to their mothers milk, especially vulnerable at risk infants (those living in poor families).

My husband's current employer has a new building going up, he tells me that they have really lovely lactation rooms in them for their employees. This kind of news makes my heart sing.