Monday, 10 January 2011

Learning to give birth in a foreign land


At 34 weeks pregnant, we have now begun the antenatal classes in our new home: South Africa. As first time parents and 'newbies' to SA, we are somewhat unnerved by not knowing the healthcare system. Seven couples were there at the class, most of whom were preparing to have their first baby.


It is apparently increasingly popular for women to give birth at home and the professional medical advice now is that giving birth at home is a natural and normal thing to do and going to hospital should be limited to high risk, complications and emergencies. However, Becky and I are unsure of this and we are still weighing up the options. We have our first appointment with our obstetrician next week and we will discuss options with him and our midwife. It is essential to have a meeting with, and a referral from, an obstetrician to activate the medical insurance (apparently).

We learnt about the transition from being a couple to becoming parents, getting the baby into the best position for him to ‘engage’ – “be open, upright and forward leaning!” – as a modern man, I did my best to join. Angela had a model of a pelvis and a toy puppy to demonstrate the journey of a baby during labour. She showed how the baby engages, turns to allow the head through, then drops and turns again to allow the shoulder’s through. She also talked about all of the different hormones that a woman may experience around child birth and how to stimulate the good hormones (oxitocins, protoglandins and endorphins) and prevent/reduce the hormones which would prolong labour/make it harder (Adrenalin).


Tonight is our second session with Angela. Let's see what I can learn as a dad-to-be!

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