Thursday, November 02, 2006

Labour and childbirth in Spain

Well hello to everyone - thanks for all the emails and comments. I'm fine and fully recovered from the caesarian operation and this is the first time I've had a chance to write a new blog since Thomas was born.

Thomas was born at 3.50 am on 15th Septmeber. He weighed a healthy 4 kilos 70 grams when he was born (not 4 kilos 750 grams as posted on the previous blog!).

It's great being a mother and Thomas is the best baby ever - it's a wonderful experience and nothing you can really imagine till it happens.

Labour was induced as I had gone a week over my due date and had already started dilating. Everything started well I was taken to a room with my partner at 10am - there was a bed in one half and the delivery table in the other half. There were 2 midwives to look after me who were very nice.

I wasn't in any pain at all for the first few hours before the epidural thanks to my Tens machine which I hired from Mothercare in the UK. The midwives were very interested in it as they had read about Tens but never seen one. The machine really worked for me and when I had contractions I hardly felt any pain at all. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone planning to give birth here. The only method of pain relief available in hospitals for childbirth in this part of Spain is the epidural.

I was given the epidural quite early on even though I wasn't in pain which was suprising. Even though I 'd had the epdural the last 10 hours of labour were extremely painful because the midwives didn't top it up enough - I'm not sure why...nothing was really explained to me. Another thing that happened was that because my labour was so long the midwives changed. Whereas the first midwves introduced themselves the new ones didn't bother.

In one email somebody asked if it's necessary to be able to speak Spanish or have someone with you who speaks Spanish during labour and the answer is in my opinion definitely yes. You really need to know what's going on and to be able to communicate with the medical staff.

Finally after many hours of painful contractions I was rushed to surgery for an emergency caesarian.

I can remember quite a lot - I didn't feel any pain - it felt like the doctors were rumaging around in my stomach. I heard Thomas cry when he was lifted out and then the doctors showed him to me - after that I everything seemed to blur but I remember being taken to the recovery room feeling wonderful and sleeping off the effects of the anaesthetic.

Then I was taken to my room where my partner and mother (who arrived earler that day) were waiting. Shortly afterwards the nurses brought in baby Thomas and I held him in my arms for the first time which was the most wonderful, amazing moment.

Reflecting on my experience of giving birth in a Spanish hospital I have to say it was disappointing - I probably wouldn't choose to give birth here again. Apart from anything else the cultural differences make the whole process a lot more difficult (not to mention the lack of choice in pain relief).

The stay in hospital was not a pleasant experience for various reasons. Other mothers from my antenatal class also said that the level of care in the hospital was very poor. Yesterday I met another English woman with a baby just 2 weeks younger than Thomas we got round to discussing childbirth here, apparently her labour had not been that bad but before I even mentioned the hospital she said that her stay in hospital here was awful!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Childbirth in Spain

This morning baby Thomas was born in Spain, weighing in at 4.75 kilos!! It was a difficult birth, but both baby and mother are fine now and are resting in hospital.

Welcome to the world Thomas, and congratulations to Noelene and Sabin from your family, friends and colleagues at Euroresidentes.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Buying a pushchair in Spain

This is the second article about buying a pushchair in Spain. We finally decided on a Quinny Buzz with a carrycot fixture because we liked the modern design and we felt the price was reasonable (around 500 euros). The system here is that you have to order the pram at least 2 months in advance.

When we ordered the pram from a shop called Bambino (a specialist shop for all sorts of goods relating to babies) the assistant advised us to get what she called a universal piece fixed onto the pram so that we could use any type of sunshade with it.

I got a call in August to say that the pushchair was in the warehouse but that the person who had to fix the umbrella piece onto the pram was on holiday. I said I didn't mind waiting a week or so. After 3 weeks we started to get a bit nervous as I was then 39 weeks pregnant. After no news from the shop I called to see what was happening. I was told it would be delivered in a couple of days. Following that we went to the shop and again were told a couple a days. After that I called to say that I wanted it that week. It was delivered the next day almost one month late.

However we were in for a nasty surprise because the universal umbrella fixture has been attached so badly. For a start it wasn't a universal piece and was never intended for fixing onto our pram. Secondly the frame hadn't been dismantled for it to fit on (the reaso we were told it would be delivered late). Instead someone had sawn the piece in half, leaving sharp bits of plastic on each side and then they had tried to force it around the frame very badly and had drilled two holes in the frame and used two different type of fixtures to fix it on. But as if that wasn't bad enough, they had fixed it close to where the maxicosi carseat needs to be placed so that to fit the car seat onto the pram you really have to force it everytime.

We were very upset after having waited for almost 3 months and then to see what they had done. We went to the shop the next day. At first the shop assistant tried to fob us off saying it was normal. I've asked for a new frame immediately. Apparently the shop is going to call me today with a solution...

The only good thing about this situation is that I haven't paid for the pram yet only the deposit.

UPDATE: I got a call from the shop the next day and was able to collect the new pram the following day so luckily a satisfactory solution. This time I've ordered the umbrella for the Quinny Buzz bought the proper fixture for fitting it onto the pram (3 euros) - now I just have to wait for the umbrella (hope it's not another 2 or 3 months)...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Spanish baby clothes

There seems to be quite a big difference between what I think is appropriate for a new born baby and what’s considered normal here in Spain. Anyone who has Spanish in laws will know what I’m talking about. As I now nearing the end of my pregnancy (8 months and counting) I’m starting to receive gifts of clothes and also used clothes from my partner’s relatives.

His sister very kindly gave me a box full of used baby clothes (she has a 3 year old boy). However, I was dismayed by what I found inside. There were a lot of these intricate very pale blue jersey type things with very small openings for the neck and buttons at the back – they were also made of 100% acrylic. A definite no as far as I’m concerned. Apart from the aesthetics, the fact that they were acrylic and had buttons at the back and looked really uncomfortable means there’s no way I’m using them. There were also a couple of bodysuits but again all the poppers were at the back which somehow just seems impractical. The last time I changed a nappy was 14 years ago and the idea of trying to button everything at the back seems illogical to me. The only thing I found in the box that I thought I might use was a little short-sleeved body that looked like it had never been worn – (this is probably because it had pink pictures on it).

Then following a big family meal I was presented with some new baby clothes, I tried to smile bravely on looking at the selection. There was a bodysuit with a big plastic transfer on the front (I’ve already changed it for some plain short sleeved vests) plus one of those acrylic crocheted jumper things with big ties on the shoulders and buttons down the back and then some little wrap over vests. The only thing is the wrap over vests had long ribbon ties to fasten them. Again this seems really impractical but I’m sure I’ve also read somewhere that it’s not a good idea for safety reasons having long ties on baby clothes. So I’m going to try and change them for ones with poppers and also a larger size as they are for 0 – 1 months and look like they wouldn’t fit a doll. Needless to say everything was pale blue. However, I was a bit dismayed to find so many pale blue baby clothes in the Mothercare catalogue too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The second antenatal class

Yesterday I went to the second antenatal class at my local healthcare centre. This time it was a bit more structured that the one last week.

There was a midwife and a nurse. Firstly the nurse showed us how to bath a newborn baby. It was quite funny as she used a rather large, old doll to demonstrate what to do. Then the midwife talked about breastfeeding which was quite informative.

She mentioned that the hospital here used to have a midwife dedicated soley to helping women get started on breastfeeding but that this is no longer the case. She mentioned how important it is to wear the correct type of bra and admitted that in Spain its very difficult to find a well fitting bra. Generally in Spain you can't buy a bra with a cup size! Something which I've always found rather bizarre. Do all Spainish women share the same cup size? I was a bit shocked when someone in the class undressed to show us her bra and then her breasts (she wanted to know whether they looked normal!). Her bra was the wrong sort as it had wire under the cup (you're not supposed to wear underwired bras when pregnant).

Following this people just asked general questions. One woman wanted to know whether she could cut her newborn baby's hair with a head shaver or whether this might damage the baby's head! She was worried she might not like how the baby looked with a lot of hair. How strange.

The the midwife talked about how our relationships with our partners would change following the birth of our babies. However, she only focussed on the difficulties and I found this rather disheartening. I am under no illusions as to how hard its going to be - one of the reasons I have left motherhood rather late (I'm almost 38 years old) but I didn't need reminding at 8 months pregnant going on nine.

I wonder what next weeks class will be about?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The first antenatal Class

I attended my first antenatal class today. An interesting experience. It was due to start at 9am but infact didn't start until 9.30am as the midwife decided to wait for the latecomers. It lasted 2 hours without a break (needless to say that I dying to go to the toilet afterwards).

There didn't seem to be much structure to the class - luckily the midwife went over breathing techniques briefly (I'd missed the previous 3 classes while I was in the UK).

I had a disagreement with the midwife when she was talking about what happens at the hospital and during the birth. Here they tie you to a bed if you have an epidural and I protested and said I didn't think this was necessary, as far as I know this doesn't happen in the UK. She wasn't very sympathetic and said that the British health service wasn't was good as here (she's probably never been to he UK). This is something I feel quite strongly about and I don't like the idea of being tied down during birth...!

She said that in a natural birth (ie without an epidural) you can be in any position you like but with an epidural you have to be tied to the bed. I wonder if this is the same in the whole of Spain? It sounds like this is convenient for the doctors and midwives but it sounds a bit old fashioned to me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The third scan

I've just got back from a short break in the UK. It was nice to be in a cooler climate. Even though there's a heat wave in Britain at the moment it's nothing compared to here. It's so hot I can't go out and have to stay indoors with the windows closed (the air outside heats up the flat otherwise) and the blinds down. The only way I can cool off is by having frequent cool showers and having the air fan on constantly. When I got back here yesterday evening with my partner the room thermometer read over 30 degrees...and then there's the humidity to cope with too!

Anyway, I went to what I expect to be the last scan before the birth and everything looks fine the baby is a good size and it was exciting to actually see the little person who's constantly wriggling around in my tummy trying to find a comfortable position.

When I was in the UK I ordered a tens machine from Mothercare. It's a small hand held machine which gives gentle impulses into the skin through small pads which are attached to to your back. The impulses are supposed to stimulate the body to release endorphins, the body's own natural pain relieving hormones. Most of my friends who have had children have used one. It was really easy to order over the phone and will be delievered to my UK address 3 weeks before the due date (my mum is going to bring it over for me). I don't think anyone has ever heard of them over here but it's non invasive and totally safe so definitely worth a try.

Another thing I got to help me through the later stages of pregnancy is a special pillow from Mothercare in a wedge shape to help support my bump as it gets bigger and bigger so that I can get more comfortable in bed.

I hope it gets a bit cooler here otherwise another thing I'll need to invest in is a portable air conditioning system to get me through the last weeks.