Why should I be lying down helpless when I am in labour

Seema Saikya, who had her first baby in the US, was apprehensive delivering her baby in India when she got pregnant the second time, here in Bangalore. “In Boston, I chose a birthing centre for the birth of my first child. The conveniences were far above any maternity ward in a hospital, here in India. And I’ve seen enough because of all my friends who had their babies when I was here,” says Saikya, who had her first baby at 35, long after her friends had had theirs. “When I came back to India, I didn’t plan on getting pregnant but when I did, I was concerned. You see, in the birthing centre back in the US, I had my own doula, who I had interviewed and came highly recommended. I had a birthing plan, and steps to take if my labour was too long. The birth itself was meant to be a gentle process where there was no screaming, and no sudden gust of cold air as the child comes out from a mother’s womb. Everything went according to plan,” she says.

The main stream media representation of a woman about to give birth is that of a screaming, straining woman lying flat on her back unable to do anything but squeeze to death the hand of the person standing by her and doctors milling all around. This couldn’t be farther from the reality of labour and giving birth, really. Reality, in fact, is that between the time a woman gets into hospital and the baby arriving, a woman spends, usually, many hours trying to manage her labour. In traditional hospitals, the most one can do is perhaps sit up, or maybe have a bystander massage you.

The thing that most women who can afford specialty maternity care want is to be comfortable during labour. Post-partum comfort is important, sure, but being able to manage the physical discomfort and pain, as well as nervousness and, in some cases, fear is of utmost importance.

Saikya’s concerns of having a baby in India were valid. “I didn’t have that many expectations; I didn’t think I would get all that I got in the US but I did want it to be a little more in my control than most deliveries that Indian women go through. I didn’t want to be lying flat on my back crying in agony. And I most certainly didn’t want to leave my husband out of the process,” she explains to me. She did her research and narrowed down on two maternity hospitals that made sense to her, one of them was Cloudnine. “I couldn’t care if they gave us a cake or did up my car with balloons. I wanted to be able to have a birthing plan, I wanted to be in control of the birth as much as I could,” she says, adding that even up to the minute she went in after her water broke, she was doubtful everything would go as planned. “Even if the gynaecological care is top notch, the delivery process can get pretty confusing and all plans can go out of the window,” she says.

Much to her surprise, however, the few things that she really wanted and put down on her birth plan were carried out perfectly well. “One of the few things that were of most importance to me was to be able to walk around during my labour. Or to get down on my knees; both techniques taught to me by my doula during my first pregnancy. I could put on my music, sip water (even though I would have liked ice chips. These were very important to me. And while I got into this thinking I didn’t want the frills that came after delivery, I can’t tell you what a welcome relief it was to be so deeply pampered,” she says. While she isn’t thinking of a third child – at least not yet – she most certainly recommends Cloudnine to all her friends who are looking for a place to have their babies in.

 

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