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’.