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.

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