Two Month Doctors Check Up

At 9.5 weeks, so a couple of days late, I took Annabelle for her second doctors check up. We use Dr Ajit in Khar and he is wonderful. A small office and very understated but Dr Ajit himself has a lovely nature with the babies (and mothers too). Although he’s not worked overseas he has excellent knowledge about the UK, US and Australian medical care systems and offers you the chance to follow their vaccination schedules or to go along with an hybrid Indian schedule.

At this check up, Annabelle was weighed and measured. She is now 5.5kg and 59cm long. In Dr Ajit’s words “mother diary is working well”. Most babies are to gain around 200g in weight per week and Annabelle has been gaining nearly 300g per week. Chubster.

Annabelle has a slightly wonky head (plagiocephaly) as she tends to favour her left side for lying on. We have been encouraged to get her to lie on the right side, which we do when she’s awake but it’s hard when she’s sleeping. Either way, the doctor is not too worried and thinks that as her neck continues to strengthen she will use both sides equally. Our other concern is her hips; due to being breech Annabelle had slight hip dysplasia when she was born. I asked Dr Ajit to check it and he said that he could tell from looking at her that it was fine, I asked how he knew and he responded by saying the creases in her thighs were equal!! Is he calling my baby fat??

Little Chubster

Little Chubster

Mosquitoes can be a pain at this time of year because of the monsoon, so we have been advised to keep her dressed in long clothing, which is hard when it’s still so warm. No more pretty dresses!

Finally, Annabelle was given 3 vaccinations. One oral (to prevent severe diarrhoea and vomiting) and two in the leg. One for Hep B and one for meningitis. Poor thing was none too pleased. She was a little bit grouchy and sleepy the following day but no fever.

Dr Ajit Gajendragagkar
106 Anand Dham CHS, 10th Rd, Khar West
022 2605 2255

 

Mumbai Mum – Being a Mum in Mumbai

When we told friends and family back home that we would have our baby in India, there was a mixed response. I know a few of my pregnant friends here are also facing the same scepticism from their family too. My response was always to point out that the consultants and doctors in the UK – many of them are Indian. Indian born and Indian trained. In fact the Doctor that delivered Annabelle worked in Wythenshawe hospital in Manchester for 15 years! The healthcare here is great.

That’s the healthcare, but what is it really like to be a mum in this city? We are the first of our friends to have children here and so I felt a little apprehensive about it as I didn’t know anything (hence the reason for setting up this blog in the first place).

Social life here for mothers is actually not too bad at all. My husband met a gentleman at a friends party one evening when Annabelle was only a couple of weeks old, they got to chatting and established that his wife met a few ladies with babies on a Monday morning, so they invited me to go along. I also started to go back to the Mumbai Connexions and AWC coffee mornings that I had forgone whilst I was working. I met a couple of new mums and pregnant ladies here; we now go for lunch together on Fridays.

The networking element of expat life is always very strong and many a friend as put me in touch with other friends who are either new mums or expectant mums. I am meeting a group of newborns and their mothers next Wednesday. Furthermore I am organising a ‘coffee morning’ for new mums and mums-to-be next Saturday…Mumbaikers – if you know anyone, do come along.

The one thing I miss is open space, outdoor space. We live in a beautifully climatic country but our parks and seasides areas are pretty grim. I have taken Annabelle for a walk around the parks and along the promenade, but it’s really nothing to write home about. Perhaps when the monsoon is over we can have more time outside as I really do miss it.

Then there’s the shopping, where do we get all our nappies, creams & essentials from… Luckily there is Mothercare, both in Bandra and Juhu (read here about places to shop/go/do), so we can get the odd item there. I also frequent Mom & Me on Waterfield Road regularly for weekly supplies.

What about the sanitation factor? Interestingly, studies show that babies are born with a natural immunity to there home surroundings, which is why home births are safe and don’t need to be as sterile as hospital births. In that respect, there isn’t a great risk of Annabelle getting sick from being in the house. I am cautious with the bath water as that can make people sick and of course mosquitos, especially in the monsoon, are another concern. Since Annabelle is predominately breast fed we don’t have to worry too much about sterilising everything, but when we do bottle feed her I am careful. Having said all of that, I’ve never been as ‘clean’ as some others I speak to; I don’t wash my veg in bicarbonate soda, I do eat salad, I eat fish in the monsoon… I think it helps to build a strong immune system. Fingers crossed I don’t have to eat my words!

I haven’t experienced having a child in the UK so I can’t compare, but one of the comparisons that should be raised is that of having staff. We have a maid who works 4 hours a day (although she really only does 2hrs…), so I don’t have to worry about the laundry or the mopping. I still do the cooking most nights, but it is nice to have a delicious home made curry to fall back onto if I’m not in the mood for cooking. We also have a driver, Nazir, what a champ. We would be lost, generally, without him but what I have enjoyed since having a baby is the ability to nip out of the car into a friends house to pick up something, to the fruit stall to grab some bananas or into Mom & Me for more wipes! In the UK, you would have to be in and out the car seat constantly and I think that must be quite tiring.

The down side of course is family and friends being so far away. I have always lived overseas and always loved it, but I really miss my family and friends now that Annabelle is here. We are so lucky to have made some wonderful friends here and I’m delighted that many of them are now expecting so we will have our own little ‘new generation’.

Sleep Training – A Will of Steel

This is what my friend, whose baby is 2 weeks younger than Annabelle, recently posted as her facebook status and I think it summed up exactly how I had felt about encouraging Annabelle to sleep in her own bed during the day.

At around 6 weeks old Annabelle had got into a rhythm of sleeping brilliantly on the go, but not at home. This meant when I was out and about she was a darling and when I was at home wanting to cook, rest or get on with things I was not able to have a moments peace. Once again I turned to Tracy Hogg the Baby Whisperer and followed her lead.

Her system is that you create a routine when putting baby into bed; close the curtains together, tell baby what your doing etc. My routine involves closing the curtains, turning on our pink lamp, closing the bedroom door and closing the bathroom door (for some reason it’s always open!). I then kiss her, lay her in her bed, swaddle her, pat her tummy and bye bye out the door I scarpa. The baby whisperer then says that if your baby is crying you should go in and soothe them, preferably not by picking them up, perhaps by patting them or shushing them. If you need to pick them up then that is fine, so long as it’s until baby is calm again. She insists that baby is always put into it’s crib whilst awake.

The will of steel comes from going in and out of the room a million times, picking baby up and putting baby down a hundred times and generally feeling like your on your knees and want to give up after 20 minutes of this charade. In the early days it would take me 90 minutes of shushing and rocking, and patting and holding before Annabelle would finally drift off. In fact more often than not she would be hungry again before she’d even been off to sleep. I stuck at it though. Tracy Hogg reckons it only takes 3 days to break the back of these habits and then 2 weeks to instil them. True to her word, Annabelle was settling with minimal fuss 90% of the time within 3 days.

I’m pleased to say that it’s been two weeks now and Annabelle settles in her bed with minimal fuss 99% of the time. I feel like a new women, the time I have on my hands, the chances I have for naps and hubby’s pleased that he’s actually getting dinner when he comes home again now rather than a bedraggled, forlorn looking wife!

Tired as usual

Tired as usual

 

Finally sleeping in her bed in the day!

Finally sleeping in her bed in the day!

Breast Feeding – All the Gory Details!

Midwives and doctors alike, both here and in the UK, make no bones about the fact that ‘breast is best’ and that every mother should at least try to breast feed. I think it puts quite a bit of pressure on the mother and can make some mothers feel inadequate if they are unable to feed for whatever reason.

I wanted to breast feed and was worried that by having a caesarean I would have this desire taken away from me. I had asked the nurses to help me breast feed as early as possible. In fact, I was still in the operating theatre and Annabelle must have only been 10 minutes old when I first fed her.

In the beginning your breasts only carry colostrum which is a pre-milk filled with antibodies and all things protective. I found that Annabelle settled into a pretty quick routine of feeding every 3-4hrs and she would feed for about 5-10 minutes at a time. I had done a lot of reading before hand and knew about getting a correct latch to ensure efficient feeding and less pain. Whilst I managed to suss the latch out pretty quickly my nipples still pained a great deal. In fact one night, whilst burping Annabelle she spat up a little blood in her milk, instead of panicking I assumed this blood had been ingested whilst feeding off my cracked and sore nipples. I decided to tell the nurses in the morning rather than alerting them immediately. When I did tell the nurse she said that it’s not normal to have bleeding boobs and I must be doing it wrong. I spoke to my sisters (I have 3 and they all breastfed) and they said it is quite normal in the beginning. The issues arise if you still have cracked and sore boobs after a couple of weeks, this can mean either your position or your latch is not correct.

On day 3 or thereabouts my milk came in. I had heard about this but my goodness it was not what I expected. I felt like I might fall forward I was so top heavy. My breasts were like rocks and even the slightest graze against them caused immense pain. Not great when well wishers want to hug you! Not only that but suddenly I had an uncontrollable amount of milk and at at the risk of grossing folk out it sprays everywhere. I highly recommend breast pads. Taking a shower is interesting!

Getting the hang of the latch all over again was our next battle, as now there was such volume of milk it caused Annabelle to splutter a little. It’s a messy old game in the early days. Don’t worry about, just roll with it.

My next battle was projectile vomiting. Spitting up is normal (when baby ‘overflows’ with milk and appears to vomit, but really just brings up a small amount of undigested milk), but Annabelle would projectile vomit nearly every morning and always off the same breast (my left one if you must know). I tried to not let it bother me, but in the end she vomited up 3 feeds in a row so I called the lactation consultants. They suggested that I keep Annabelle upright for at least 10 minutes after a feed and suspected the cause to be due to a fast let down on my left breast (let down is the moment when your boobs let the milk flow, it can be brought on my baby suckling, or by something as small as hearing baby cry). I followed instructions and Annabelle began to get used to this feeding malarkey and most importantly was gaining weight so I didn’t worry.

In the early days I was pumping off some of the milk at the beginning of a feed, partly because it seemed to be preventing Annabelle from getting a good latch but also because I had so much I thought I could save it for the growth spurt days. My doctor strongly suggested I don’t do this as this sends a message to my breast to keep producing more milk, since breasts work on a supply and demand basis. She said that my boobs will soon learn how much milk Annabelle wanted and produce accordingly. She was right.

At about 3 weeks and 6 weeks babies go through a growth spurt and let me tell you now, it’s hell. Just preparing you! Baby will want to suckle for about 50 minutes in every hour, which means you get about 10 minutes respite to nip to the loo, grab another bottle of water and change the TV channel! It’s tough going. To be honest, I actually got a sore bottom from being sat on it for such extended periods of time! Don’t loose heart though and also don’t go down the route of “i’m not producing enough milk” even though people will suggest this as a cause for your baby’s hunger. Every mother produces enough milk. I work in the slums of Mumbai with malnourished pregnant and lactating women and we once met a lady who weighed 23 kg but her 6 month baby boy, who was exclusively breast fed, was a little chunk. She had enough milk. The reason your  baby is suckling so much is that he/she is instructing your boobs to make more milk so that he will have enough in the coming days. Your body is an amazing machine, let it take it’s course. If you choose to top up your baby with formula, that’s of course fine, it has to be whatever works for you, but this can lead to producing less milk (since the instructions are not being sent to the breasts) and then you can end up having to stick with a dual feeding programme. This often works better for some mothers as it gives them a break. Make sure you do whatever works for you and that you are not forced down any route based on well meaning friends’ and family advice.

Annabelle is now just passed 8 weeks and she has been exclusively breast fed. She is doing well. She’s chunking out nicely.

Breast feeding in public can be another area of concern for some new mums, especially when you’re only just getting the hang of it yourself. My sister kindly bought me a feeding cover that wraps around my neck and covers baby and me whilst she feeds. I found this helped with public feedings. It makes everyone feel more comfortable. These can be bought at Mom and Me, JustLink sell some and of course on line.

Good luck if you choose to breast feed. It’s no picnic, but I believe it is quite empowering and rewarding. Not to mention it’s good to know that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, there is always a boob handy if baby is kicking off!

 

Recovering from a Caesarean

Since I knew I would be having a caesarean I did lots of reading before hand about the recovery period and how it would affect my emotions, breast feeding and bonding. Everything that happens during a natural labour has a purpose, all the hormones play their part either there in the moment or later in the bonding phase between mother and child. I was worried to be missing out on these essential cocktails.

I had read that caesarean mothers struggle to breast feed since they are less able to hold their baby and they have a rather tender tummy. Once again we were so fortunate to have the support of the midwives at the birth. Not only did I have the nurses help me breast feed in the operating theatre, but in the recovery room Lina also helped me feed Annabelle. In the beginning I used the football hold, I used the electronic bed to bring me to a seated position and then stacked pillows and cushions under my arms so that I wasn’t holding much of the weight. More on breast feeding later…

When I was wheeled out of theatre I was obviously still pretty drugged up and therefore had no pain. There was an obvious high in the recovery room as we called family to let them know our news. Unbeknown to me I was wearing compression tights which are to help with blood clotting after such an operation. I was completely immobile and when the anaesthetic wore off I felt woozy, tired and quite overwhelmed. Annabelle was sleeping, my family and husband were out getting food so I managed to take a rest.

When in the hospital it was great to have all the staff there to bring food, water, painkillers and to call upon for help with feeding etc. On day 2 I was bed bathed and then later I was encouraged to try and stand and walk and to go to the bathroom on my own.

By Day 4 we were out of the hospital and I was on oral painkillers as opposed to intravenous ones. Getting home was wonderful especially as my mum and dad had decorated the place and prepared some wonderful home cooked food. However I did find it hard having to do everything for myself! Haha. We had plenty of visitors and I had read that it was a good idea to wear a tracksuit or comfy clothes to remind guests that you had just recovered from surgery. I took this on board and I recommend it. Some people forget that for a new mum just being up and about is tiring and would therefore stay for up to 2-3 hours which I found exhausting.

By Day 8 I would say that walking and getting up and about was nearly normal. I was obviously still delicate but physically I was pretty much back to normal. I’m 8 weeks post partum now and am back to full strength. I’ve been to yoga, swimming, power walking. Haven’t yet got back to running, but that’s cos it’s not my favourite!

Emotionally I had read that caesarean mothers struggle to bond with their baby, again, due to the lack of hormones. I did not find this an issue at all. In fact, I felt that without the cocktail of hormones running through my body I was a lot more alert (as was Annabelle) and less exhausted so therefore able to connect with b/feeding and with Annabelle a little better. Of course I have nothing to compare my experience with but my friends and sisters have told me about uncontrollable bouts of crying for no apparent reason. I never had this. I haven’t had any post-partum lows either. I’m certainly not advocating an elective c-section and I still feel robbed of my natural labour experience, but if this is the route you have to take for whatever reason there are pros to it. So if like me, you’re feeling down about it, don’t worry! There are plenty of good sides to it!

Going Away – Nashik at 3 weeks old

Never mind the 40 days confinement that the Indians do, with my Mum and Dad in town we were off for a weekend at 3 weeks old. I was a bit nervous, I have to admit, but if my parents thought it wasn’t totally irresponsible then it couldn’t be, right?

We left early on the Saturday morning. I fed Annabelle loads before rolling her into the car where she slept for the duration of the 3.5hr journey. We arrived at Beyond by Sula at around midday/1pm, I immediately fed Annabelle and then we chilled out by the pool drinking Sula Brut and Rose for the afternoon. Again, irresponsible? With Annabelle being so young she was still in the very sleepy stage.

In the evening we went to the Italian restaurant at Sula. I bathed Annabelle in the shower to keep our usual routine of bath, feed and then bed. We fed her and headed to the restaurant. After some top up feeding at the restaurant she slept in her pram at the edge of our table.

She slept the whole night in her pram (we didn’t bring the bassinet) and the next day my husband carried her around the wine tour before we fed her up again and hit the road. She didn’t quite sleep the whole way back but she was still as good as gold.

If you are able to and up for it, I highly recommend getting out and about when baby is so young as their sleepiness means you can enjoy longer car journeys or flights without worrying.

bath at sulasula wines

British Passport for Newborn Baby

Sorry to start a post with such negativity – but getting a British Passport for a new born in this country is a nightmare. Before Annabelle was born we checked on line for the procedure and what paperwork would be required. We read somewhere on line that it would take 12 weeks which seemed like a lot to us and put us at risk of not getting the passport in time as we had planned to return to the UK about 12 weeks after Annabelle was born.

First things first, we had to get her birth certificate. This is done with the help of the hospital and since we were in a hurry my husband asked the nurses to please expedite the process, he witnessed them asterisk our papers and assumed that was code for ‘do this urgently’, but we have since learned, although it is not confirmed, that this could have meant ‘these are (apparently) wealthy foreigners, you can milk them a little’ as our birth certificate took 3 weeks in this time they even spelled her name wrong and then declared it can not be changed. Unless of course we pay. The whole thing cost us Rs4,000. Our friends who also had their baby at Ambani but didn’t require their birth certificate in a hurry went along to the BMC office and paid Rs60 and got 3 copies in less than 2 hours. We were ripped off!

Once we finally had the birth certificate we downloaded the application form (C2) from the website https://www.gov.uk/government/world/india. It’s worth noting that Mumbai Deputy High Commission do not do any dealings with passports. They won’t even answer your questions over the phone and their consular desks are open only between 8am and 10am. So getting any information is very difficult. Even if you call New Delhi High Commission they won’t put you through to a consular worker, the best you’ll get is a receptionist telling you to email the standard email address. We did email that email address and got an auto response saying “we don’t respond to emails please call this number…” which was a premium rate UK number. Really helpful. Thanks.

Anyway, on the website was a list of papers required for the application:(https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/136846/form-c2-notes.pdf.pdf)

These included birth certificates, marriage certificates, passport photos for Annabelle, passport copies for us, a counter signed application form. We put it all together, reasonably easily and sent it off feeling like we would get the passport in time.

A week later, a letter came back saying our application was incomplete and that we needed to now send the following:
* All my pre natal records
* Photo copies of the discharge summary from the hospital for both Annabelle and me
* A photo of my husband and me at the birth
* Our original passports (and if not possible to send original as in my husbands case as he would be travelling for work) then colour copies of EVERY page of the passport attested by a UK lawyer. Try finding a UK lawyer in this country. Turns out the Mumbai Deputy High Commission will attest them for you. Good luck getting a meeting there though.

Anyway, we met all this criteria in less than a day and sent the application back. I spoke to a chap at the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai saying the system was so complicated and how I couldn’t find this information in the first place. All he kept saying was “it’s on the website”. I wish I could post that page here to help you all but I still can’t find it!

Low and behold, another week later another letter from the Consulate asking us now to send original copies of our marriage certificate and discharge certificate and MORE photos from the birth. But there was no definition in how many more photos or precisely what discharge information they required. All I wanted at this stage was to speak to someone about what was required, but when I called Delhi (the number they provided on the letter) I was told it is against the rules for anyone to speak to me. What service. In the end I lost it with the poor receptionist who kept saying “madam I understand” at which point I said “I don’t think you do understand because if you did, you would provide me with a suggestion on what I should do next, I have called, I have emailed, I have checked the website and apparently I’m still not sending what is required so please please let me speak to someone”. She asked me to email again and said someone would call me back before the days end. She was true to her word and when I spoke to the gentleman later that day it also transpired that I was required to send my antenatal profile as well as the discharge docs. Lucky I spoke to someone then, as this would not have been sent.

In my third letter to the Consulate I asked them to not write letters but to use email or phone in the future as the letters they sent me were taking 3 days to reach us. One was dated 28th May and we received it on 31 May.

Today it has been nearly 5 weeks since we submitted the first pieces of paperwork and still nothing. I have emailed them again for an update, but of course, no reply! We have 3 weeks before we are planning to return to the UK (where I am a bridesmaid at a friends wedding)…watch this space.

I hope, if you ever have to go through this, you don’t have the same experience that we have had. Whilst I think 16 weeks is a total joke to get a new passport (if we were in HK it would take 6 weeks), I do think that if you have time on your hands the procedure is pretty straight forward. It’s just that we are in such a rush and no-one is willing to help us expedite the situation.

If you have had any experiences dealing in this area, please feel free to share them.