Hospital Look-See

I am coming to the end of my second trimester shortly and we thought this to be a good time to go and check out the hospital ward and rooms and to ask the doctor about the standard procedures we can expect when we arrive at the hospital in the early stages of labour.

We are using Hiranandani Hospital in Powai and so far have been very impressed with the cleanliness and efficiency of the hospital. When we did our look-see we were not disapointed. Unlike perhaps in the UK where you might have a doctor or a member of staff show you around, we went alone and muddled our way through but the security guards and ward nurses were all very helpful.

We checked out the labour ward which is surprisingly small, there are a couple of labour rooms, an ICU and that’s about it. We couldn’t gain access to any of these rooms but I have been reliably informed by Nning the midwife that the labour room at Hiranandani is very nice. Hiranandani has a number of choices when it comes to rooms, they don’t have specific wards like most hospitals, but instead you choose the type of room you want and that determines which floor you’ll stay on. We have elected for a single room, which comes with a hospital bed, a chaise longue type sofa-bed for relatives, a TV and a private en-suite bathroom (shower, no bath). The deluxe room was as above but with an additional lounge area, with extra TV, another bathroom and a kitchenette. The rooms were very clean and spacious and still had that ‘new’ feel to them.

We have been told that when we arrive at the hospital we will be shown to our room where I will be able to see through the early stages of labour. As soon as I am ready for delivery I will be taken down to the Labour Ward. I like the idea of being able to walk around in the privacy of room with Mr Maternal at my side.

Below are the room costs:
Sharing AC (6 beds) – Rs1,500 per day
Twin Sharing – Rs2,250 per day
Single Room – Rs5,500 per day (this is what we have opted for)
Deluxe Suite – Rs7,500 per day (this is the other room we looked at)
Presidential Suite – Rs25,000 per day (we didn’t check this out – I think Mr Maternal would have wanted to move in!)


Meet the Midwife

In India most of the prenatal healthcare is doctor-lead unlike in the UK where it would be midwife-lead. I have found our doctor here to be excellent but finding out where to do prenatal classes and who to turn to post-birth for new born care and breastfeeding advice proved to be a little difficult. Many a mother here recommended I get in touch with Lina Duncan. Lina is a British midwife, American trained, been in India for 5 years after 10-12 years of work across Asia. Nearly every mother I spoke to suggested I get in touch with Lina. So I did.

Lina and her business partner, Nning, offer a “Premium Midwife Service” which includes everything from pre-natal check ups, labour support (home-births, including water births, are available) and post-natal new born care including lactation advice. This package costs Rs40,000. If you are only interested in part of the package it can be broken down. Lina and Nning also offer pre-natal private and group classes on the Lamaze technique, they will also cover off inductions, cesarians and other potential complications.

Both ladies have good relationships with the hospitals and doctors. I have only had one meeting with Lina and Nning but I found their knowledge of the Indian procedures to be very reassuring and it has already helped me with what questions I should be asking the doctor. For example episiotomies are standard here in India and since I would prefer only to have one if necessary I have been able to raise this with my doctor ahead of time.

We have signed up to the group classes and the premium midwife package. We are lucky that our insurance covers a lot of our costs. I will keep you updated on our progress.

Lina Duncan
JustLink Health Services

Costs (service tax not included)
Premium Midwife Service – Rs40,000
Lamaze Childbirth Course – Rs6,000 (group) / Rs9,000 (private)
Newborn Care Service – Rs8,000

Homemade Museli

Although imported cereals are available here in Mumbai, I have recently started making my own museli, it takes about 10 minutes and lasts me and my husband the whole week. The total cost is about equal to an imported cereal, so it works out to be financially viable too.

This is what I use:

Home Made Museli

Home Made Museli

400g Quaker Oats
200g Crushed Almonds (I buy them whole and stick them in the mixer)
200g Crushed Walnuts (as above)
A handful of Flax Seeds
100g Raisins

I buy all the ingredients from Prabhat Provisions in Pali Market and it costs me about Rs650 in total, but I don’t use all the ingredients up each week, so it works out about Rs300 per week.

Tailor Made Maternity Wear

In addition to the odd piece of clothing from Mothercare or Mom&Me, I thought it might be an idea to have a couple of my current wardrobe items remade to fit the pregnant physique. I have used a tailor in Santa Cruz before now (for my bridesmaid dresses), she was excellent but I knew she specialised in dresses and bridal wear. I also wanted someone that was relatively cheap since the clothes I would be having made would only fit me for a short period of time.

My driver, Nazir (who is a God Send by the way) suggested a tailor in Khar. He, the tailor, seemed exceptionally on the ball and knew exactly what I wanted right from the beginning. I was having 3 dresses copied (2 casual, one smart) and one dress made from my own drawing so quite risky really. Having the dresses copied was easy as he knew the type of material I should purchase to ensure a similar fit of the dress. I made a couple of adjustments to fit my ever growing tummy in and the tailor seemed to understand perfectly. Next stop, material shopping. I bought all the cotton materials and georgette from Glanz Fabrics on 14th Khar Dandar Road. It’s next to Costa Coffee. I bought my lycra from a tiny stall on Hill Road. The tailor advised me on how much I should be paying per metre so that I had a rough idea of what to expect. For guidance, cottons should be between Rs100-200 per metre, georgette is likely to be a touch higher at Rs200-250 per metre and lycra is about the same as georgette. Don’t forget linings where necessary.

The tailor advised that it would take 3 weeks to make the 4 items. I called a couple of days in advance of collecting the clothes to ensure they were ready, which of course they weren’t! He did manage to get two dresses ready by the agreed date, one dress 2 days later and I picked up the final dress when I returned from my Christmas holidays. Would I recommend this tailor? Yes, I would as his English is excellent, the craftsmanship is good and the prices are very palatable. He also understands customer service; although my dresses were delayed he did apologise! My only advice would be to stay on top of him, give him deadlines a week before they are actually required. Explain clearly how you want the dress to look.

Below are the dresses he made for me…you can make your own mind up.

Cotton Purple Casual Dress (copy of a Topshop dress)

Cotton Purple Casual Dress (copy of a Topshop dress)

Green Checked Cotton Shirt Dress (copy of an H&M shirt dress)

Green Checked Cotton Shirt Dress (copy of an H&M shirt dress)

Leopard Print Lycra Dress (copy of an old number!)

Leopard Print Lycra Dress (copy of an old number!)

Aqua Marine Georgette Cocktail Dress (designed by me)

Aqua Marine Georgette Cocktail Dress (designed by me)

Nikhaar Creations – (I used Nadeem)Shop No 1, Joswil Apartments, Opp Dominos Pizza, 14th Road, Khar, Mumbai – 400052

Costs (for tailoring only, material is additional):
Shirt Dress – Rs795
Casual Dress – Rs995
Cocktail Dress – Rs1,195

Budgeting for Bombaby

I am the daughter of an accountant and everything in our family has to be represented  by a spreadsheet. Therefore my list for our baby has been converted into a s/s. It was also quite therapeutic to look into where we can get everything from, doing some research on the various items and learning about their respective costs.

Like most new parents we are hoping to get as many of the required items second hand and therefore reduced in price. I am about to join Hopping Bunnies and have been told that many an item can be got from that network. Watch this space. In the meantime I thought you might find it useful to see our checklist and our budget. This is done in Indian Rupees even though some items’ cost has been taken from UK websites. Furthermore my sisters have kindly given me a few items already and therefore next to these items I have put INR0 as we don’t have to pay for them.

Budget for Baby

Overnight Train to Belapur – At 6 months Pregnant

The NGO for which I work has recently just opened a new operation in rural Maharashtra and I wanted to head out there to see the clinic in action on it’s inaugural day. This meant taking the 10 hours overnight train from Dadar Main Station to Belapur on the Thursday night and then back again on Friday night. I was excited. My first experience of overnight trains.

I travelled with a female colleague, our train left at 11.10pm and we were in carriage 3A/C, one of the more comfortable carriages. The train station was buzzing with people, it seemed like mostly families with young children and huge amounts of luggage. The train arrived, miraculously, bang on time and we boarded with ease. My colleague and I were both booked onto bottom bunks. Each ‘cubicle’ has 6 bunks, 3 on either side of the cubicle. There are then 2 more bunks on the other side of the aisle in a slightly more private, but smaller cubicle. My initial reaction was how quiet and peaceful the train was. People whom had already boarded at CST were tucked up and snoozing already. We quickly shuffled our bags under the bunk, got our super crisp and clean sheets, blankets and pillow (all washed at the Dhobi Ghat) and made our beds.

I found the bed comfortable and am now at the stage where sleeping on my back does make me a little breathless or light headed, so I curled up facing the middle of the cubicle. Generally the night was quite undisturbed, except for one man grabbing my foot thinking he was in his cubicle and not mine. I am sure he was as shocked to find someone in what he thought was his bed as I was to have my foot tickled in the dead of night!

The journey was meant to take 10 hours. We were due to arrive in to Belapur at 9.20am. We didn’t arrive until 11am. Luckily we weren’t on a tight schedule!

I watched my liquid intake during the night as wanted to avoid having to use the toilet in the night (normally I’m up at least twice in the night now). I couldn’t quite make it all the way to 11am (12 hours afterall!) so did use the toilet in the morning. It was a squatter toilet and although it smelt a little funky it was relatively clean. Personally I prefer public squatter loos over public western toilets. They somehow seem more hygenic as you don’t have to touch anything! Still, I travel with hand sanitizer now a days as, with this occasion, there’s not always water available to wash hands!

Our journey back wasn’t as simple. The train was scheduled to depart at 5.40pm and arrive back in Mumbai at 3.40am. Not ideal timings. It arrived on time as before. On this occasion we were booked on the middle bunk which starts the journey “down” – as the back of the seat for all the passengers in your cubicle. It’s not ‘train ettiquette’ to set up this bed before ‘bedtime’ as it means no one can sit and would force everyone to lie down. I had a great book (Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother) so I was happy. We carried some great Gujurati snacks with us and generally enjoyed the peace and quiet of the train. In fact I also bought some bhel puri, which I have wanted to try for some time now. It was delicious. More a snack than dinner, but I recommend it.

Bhel Puri - puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and chilly powder

Bhel Puri – puffed rice, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and chilly powder

I made up my bed at about 8pm and went straight off to sleep. Sleeping on the middle bunk is somehow more unsettling and being right by the door meant people were continuously knocking into me or bashing my legs. The train was also 2 hours delayed again, so instead of arriving at 3.40am we got in at 5.45am, but spent the last two hours of the journey worrying about missing our stop! I arrived back feeling exhausted and somehow ‘jet lagged’.

Indian Sleeper Train - (C)

Indian Sleeper Train – (C)

Mr M and I are taking the overnight train from Kolkata to Darjeeling in a couple of weeks time and I feel more relaxed about it having experienced it already. My only advice would be not to have two consecutive nights on such a vehicle and to take a pillow of your own. I awoke with a sore back, achey hips and a stiff neck!

Long Haul Flights – At 5 months

A close of friend of mine got married in Hong Kong in December 2012. I had already booked my flight tickets (using Jet Airways) before knowing I was pregnant and I certainly wasn’t going to miss this wedding now that I was pregnant!

One of my good friends here in Mumbai works in the operations team at the airport and he kindly arranged for me to be escorted through the airport, this meant that from the door of my car opening to being in the VIP lounge waiting for my flight, took all of 20 minutes. Amazing! This was definitely a good start to my trip.

The flight over to HK and the bus ride from the airport to my friends place in North Point was all very easy. The best thing about HK is the public transport system, I was there for 4 days and had plans to meet many old friends and their new babies. During my 4 days there I used the MTR (underground train), bus, ferry and taxi. The only thing I didn’t use were the mini buses! I thouroughly enjoyed having my own time agenda and being completely independent of traffic queues. I also loved all the walking that using the MTR and buses requires. I find we hardly ever walk anywhere here in Mumbai and i miss it.

Generally Hong Kongers are great at offering up their seats to the elderly, those with children and pregnant ladies but perhaps I wasn’t showing quite enough as I nearly always had to stand on the trains. I didn’t mind though, was just happy to be back in HK (where Mr M and I met and lived for 4 years).

My return flight to Mumbai was the day after the wedding, so I probably started the 6 hour flight a little drained. If that wasn’t bad enough I had a 4 hour wait in Mumbai airport where I was meeting Mr M and then a 2 hour flight to Dubai, another 2 hour stopover and finally the 7 hour flight back to the UK. I was prepared for a rough ride. The worst part was the wait at Mumbai airport, am sure we all agree that it’s not (yet) the best airport to while away time in and since it was between midnight and 4am local time it was also quite a dark and quiet place. On arriving in Dubai I felt very unwell, I think my body was lost on whether it was tired or hungry. I had been traveling for about 18 hours at this point and whilst I do sleep very well on any form of transportation I was missing ‘being horizontal’ and I didn’t know whether I wanted breakfast or dinner!

We flew on the A380 from Dubai back to London. Mr M was most excited until he realised the seats, the space and even the toilets were all the same size as any other airbus! I’m not quite sure what he was expecting! We arrived into LHR an hour delayed at 12pm, after 26 hours of travel for me. My overriding concern was hunger, hence we went straight to the pub for a steak pie!! Needless to say we were in bed by 7pm that night!

I consider myself to be a pretty easy traveller and this journey probably would have been equally as tiring with or without my little oven!