FEB 17 2016

My due date is Feb 18 2016.

Anyway, when I found out I was pregnant nine months ago, I didn’t really know much. Being a first time mom, like many of us on this group, I too was clueless. My husband is an absolute star, but that didn’t mean we had any knowledge on how to deal with anything, and not having family or many friends with kids here, it did look like a daunting uphill climb.

Fortunately though, it has been anything but that. And that is all thanks to the wonderful FB group called Positive Birth Doha. And there isn’t enough words to show my gratitude to Denise Pereira Zanardi and all the wonderful women in the group. This has definitely become one big family. I just thought I’ll share some thoughts and lessons I have learnt over the course of the last nine months.

Most importantly, EMPOWER YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE

One question that I get asked on a regular basis is “Are you scared?” And every time my answer is the same: “I am not the first woman to give birth, I won’t be the last. God has created women with the miraculous power of giving life and birth. If millions of women can do it, why not me?”

And it helped a lot that I was surrounded (via this group) with people who knew, and were willing to share their knowledge. Every step of the way, I was not scared to ask lots of questions, and used the resources available at hand, namely Google! Yes, it is true that Google can half scare you to death, but after a while you get a hang of what sites to trust and what is not very reliable.

Attend classes if you can. I was very lucky that I got to attend childbirth and breast feeding classes organized by Indiana Whyte-Smith. And we did learn quite a bit. But I must say that the classes really taught the husbands a lot, because the wives already knew a lot of the stuff. It was the first time a lot of husbands heard most of the things, and that was important.

If the class timings don’t work for you, look to participate in classes in other ways. Online classes. There are plenty of videos on youtube that explain what to expect when you are expecting, or get books. I believe Denise has a mini library of sorts where you can buy/borrow books. Breathing techniques are also explained in a lot of videos, as is hypno-birthing. Find out what works for you.

LEARN ABOUT YOUR OPTIONS

Knowledge is not just about your body and how you need to prepare. It is equally important to understand what your options are. Remember that you are in Qatar, and the system here is probably different. This is not Europe or US or India, or other parts of the world where you have had other experiences. Knowing that itself helps you manage your expectations. Look into the various hospitals and clinics here, look at what your options are and make an educated and informed decision. Constantly comparing it to other parts of the world will only lead to disappointment.

It is equally important that you DO DETAILED RESEARCH BEFORE PICKING A GYNO/PLACE FOR DELIVERY

Select a gynecologist both you and your partner trusts. I have always maintained that you should consider a number of factors including male or female preference, rates, reviews, waiting time, distance to the clinic etc. What works for one person might not work for the next. Visit the doctor yourself, and make a decision. Many, including me have been extremely happy with Dr Naseem Rashid at Fetomaternal Clinic, and I will give excellent reviews but many have not liked her very much. Hence visiting personally is very important, to know if you and the doc clicks. And for whatever reason, if you feel even a bit uneasy, change immediately.

Prioritize. Make a list of what you want during your pregnancy care and delivery, and assign scores to each point, and use that to narrow down your choices. Key points include:

  • Natural birth / elected cesarean / VBAC
  • Interventions and pain relief options
  • Presence of husband
  • Other support such as your own midwife/doula
  • Charges
  • Reviews

Personally, for me, the most important was that my husband be with me. I understand that if I need a C-section, he can’t but if it’s a normal delivery, as I hope it to be, then he can definitely stay. And the second consideration was charges, as I am not insured.

But if the only way I could have had the option of having the man with me was by going to a private hospital, I would have opted for that.

Based on your situation and preferences, make sure you choose the best for you.

I am a huge advocate of this: ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION

If the diagnosis I have been given makes me feel funny or I am not 100% convinced, I always try and get another opinion. Even if it is just asking in this group, because the women here have experience, have been there, done that and have the knowledge, ask!

I have always Googled all medications. Even before I got pregnant, and if it seems off, I ask for a second opinion. And trust your gut.

I was prescribed Duphoston during my first month (from Aster), and I got differing opinions on it. I spoke to a few gynecologists, checked online, and decided to go ahead and have it till the box finished.

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THE BIRTH EXPERIENCE

Everyone wishes for a perfect birth experience, and personally I believe it is very important. It is a time that you will remember all your life. And a bad experience could scare you off from future pregnancies, and could also lead to being depressed.

It is extremely important that you discuss you have a birth plan and that you discuss it with your doctor. This will give you a clear indication and direction on what is allowed, what is not, what can be accommodated and what cannot. This will help you tailor your expectations on what is achievable.

Have a plan in place but at the same time, be open to change. The truth is that birthing your child is not just up to you. You are dependent on a lot of factors not in your control. Some of it is medical, and the others unfortunately are sometimes unfair: the mood of the doctor for example. It shouldn’t make a difference, we still deserve the care. But it doesn’t always go according to plan, and knowing that makes it easier.

Also give a thought to the millions of women who don’t have what we do. We are fortunate, and knowing that helps. I am not saying we should give up our comfort because there are women who don’t have it but knowing that we are lucky will make us feel a little better.

And the fact that God willing, we have a happy healthy baby who is well cared for.

And finally, DO NOT PLAY THE GUILT GAME

As to-be-mothers, we have enough to worry about. And once bubba is here, worry becomes part of our life. But feeling guilty or being worried is not going to solve it. We need to try and stay away from stress and worry as much as possible. Of course it is easier said than done. But we need to make that effort.

Yes, some people can buy better stuff than we can. Yes, some are getting better care than we are. Yes, some moms seem to have a better experience than we do. Yes, sometimes we only face tough times and nothing goes our way.

But know this: as a to-be mom, you know you are doing the best you can. Everyone has their limitations, and as long as you truly believe that you are doing your best, there should be no regrets.

Bottom line: THE PREGNANCY JOURNEY IS INCREDIBLE, A TRUE MIRACLE. ENJOY THE UPS AND DOWNS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN.