THE PANDEMIC PREGNANCY: A FIRST TIME MOM’S PREGNANCY DIARY IN TIMES OF COVID-19
When you’re pregnant and constantly in and out of lockdowns, time seems to simultaneously stand still and rush by you at an astonishing speed! When I was writing the first-trimester article, the world and Bangalore looked a lot different: we were all dealing with so much uncertainty, constantly refreshing Big Basket for the next available delivery slot and trying to figure out where to get meat, alcohol and what is and isn’t allowed. Now, Bangalore, at least on paper, is back to normal, but there are still a lot of apprehensions: what is safe, what is not, how much are we all willing to risk to maintain a semblance of normality and sanity. For me, this phase is in some ways worse than the total lockdown of the first trimester- I can do everything, I am FINALLY not sick anymore, and yet I cannot do anything out of fear of getting sick. Finding that balance has led to a fun game I like to play once every two weeks called “is this a pregnancy symptom or a COVID symptom”. Here, I summarize everything I found to be helpful, useful and absurd in the past three months.
All of a sudden after the lockdown was lifted gone were the empty waiting rooms and no queues for scans and doctors appointments. I have finally committed to Cloud 9 on Old Airport Road and have been going there for all my appointments. The reason I went with a maternity hospital instead of a general hospital has a lot to do with COVID: I just feel better knowing that there are still less patients coming to Cloud 9 than a general hospital. They are also strict with not allowing anyone but the patient come in, which sucks because it means my husband has missed seeing the baby so far, but I love how strict the nurses are with enforcing that policy. I have had two instances of spotting over the period of two months and went to their triage on one of those occasions and I was super impressed how they handled it, which gave me all the assurance I needed that I have chosen the right hospital. I also had a bad, painful UTI at one point and my doctor handled it via video consultation and email, which reduced my exposure to hospitals and viruses. So far, I have nothing but the nicest things to say about Cloud 9! We have booked their signature birthing package which comes with a private suite and all of the costs of delivery and baby vaccinations covered, plus some fun perks like a gift basket, a massage post-delivery and sessions with the physiotherapist. The cost of most packages like this one is around 2 lakhs; depending on vaginal versus caesarian delivery, so do shop around to see what fits your needs!
I have become super reliant on my care team at The Birth Home and in this trimester I can say they have made all the difference in terms of my confidence and comfort level! I will not be giving birth at The Birth Home but we have opted for co-care with our amazing midwife Jenny who we see every four weeks and their birthing classes, led by Sneha, one of the only doulas in Bangalore. I would highly recommend using The Birth Home even if you, like me, decide to go with hospital birth. The care is highly personalized, non-judgmental and everyone on the team has endless patience. What I found is that even when you have the nicest doctor in the world, you are still in and out of the checkup in seven minutes flat. This is where I rely so much on The Birth Home- from panicked Whatsapp messages to long, slow consultations with Jenny, you really feel listened to and respected. My husband has been at every one of our midwife appointments (they only take one couple at a time, no wait time in the waiting room, no other patients, no COVID fears), got to hear the heartbeat on the Doppler and Jenny takes up to 60 minutes during each appointment to check that everything is going well, that the baby is growing and that the mom is happy- which seems to be one piece of the puzzle most care providers forget about. You don’t have to make the decision of giving birth at The Birth Home immediately, but to be eligible to give birth there you have to see the midwife every four weeks and decide by week 34. In case of any kind of emergency, The Birth Home has an agreement with Dr. Shailaja at Rainbow Hospital and the mother is transported to the hospital to give birth. Even if you decide you don’t want a midwife, definitely look into their birth education classes- they are amazing. Over a course of four Saturdays (3 hours each session), Sneha will lead you through everything you need to know about your body, birth, coping mechanisms, medical interventions and what happens once the baby is here. The course is 12.000 rupees and it is the best money I have spent this pregnancy. Sneha has a no-nonsense approach and tells you exactly what to expect, but she is still very gentle and reassuring. I love how she made my husband super involved in the lessons and really emphasized the importance of partnerships when it comes to labor and post-partum. If there were no COVID restrictions, I would totally want her by my side during the birth!
CloudNine, 7 hospitals and 2 clinics throughout Bangalore, Opposite Kemp Fort (Total Mall), Old Airport Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560017
The Birth Home Class
The fun part! I didn’t buy anything during the first three months, partly because of the lockdown, partly because I didn’t want to jinx it, but I let loose these past three months. The plan has been to either find second-hand items or to buy from local brands and it worked so well! Bangalore Expat Flea Market on Facebook turned out to be a treasure trove of almost brand new, barely used baby stuff. It was also good timing- so many expats are leaving now and trying to get rid of the stuff they don’t need anymore. I got a bedside crib, a Mamaroo rocker, bathtub, changing table, books and clothes for a bargain. I also got a stroller from Quikr. Total savings have been close to a lakh and everything is in perfect condition! Of course there are some things you are never supposed to get second hand, like the car seat, but other stuff just seemed like a waste of money for something a baby will only use for a year max. Now, what did I do with the money I saved? I spent it all on cute baby clothes and linens. The Vine favorite, Masilo, is heaven. The materials are sooo soft and the design is so beautiful. They have just launched a new line of infant clothing as well and I want it all. Aagghhoo is another favorite. Their clothes are sustainable, gender-neutral and draw on traditional dying methods and cuts in a way that feels modern, easy and elegant. The Nestery is your one-stop-shop for all the amazing local and sustainable brands. I love Shumee Toys for wooden toys, The Clever Fox for linens and felt toys and Ariro for sustainable toys and the cutest baby mobiles. I nabbed the last Nordic baby gym from Sommerhome, but Shumee has a similar style. One of the best buys so far has been the nursing pillow from Mamari Baby. Sleeping with a bump sucks and this pillow is SO comfy. It’s filled with buckwheat husk and it’s the first Indian nursing pillow that’s ergonomically designed. Another great pillow is the White Willow memory foam c-shaped pregnancy pillow that you stick under your bump for extra support. I use both for sleeping now and the combination is perfect.
Check out some more of our fave brands in our great kid brands article!
Masilo Baby Line
Clothes for what, really… I have been living in oversized t-shirts and underpants since I barely leave the house. But if times were normal, I would be living in Mati dressed! This sustainable local brand has amazing styles that grow with you and the owner Fatima will tailor anything to your specific size and need. Nicobar’s airy silhouettes are also great, as well as Pinklay kaftans and oversized shirts. For basics, it’s all about H&M for me. Their stuff is affordable and a great basic to build a maternity wardrobe without breaking the bank. What you definitely need are black leggings, bras and underwear, one pair of jeans and a couple of tops, tanks and t-shirts. One thing I found super useful is the belly band. With it, you can get a good extra couple of months out of your regular jeans, skirts and pants. Zara has a decent selection of styles that work for the bump, especially ribbed dresses. I have found that most maternity clothes brands are conservative and quite outdated- I finally don’t have to suck my tummy in, give me all the bodycon dresses, not the moo moos!
OLD WIVES’ TALES AND NATURAL REMEDIES
We had an eclipse during my second trimester and I cannot tell you how many concerned messages we have gotten! Apparently, pregnant women are not allowed to touch knives or scissors during the eclipse or the baby will have the birthmark. Some people even say that pregnant women should fast the whole day of the eclipse- fat chance of that happening.
Now that the bump is prominent, it’s fun to see people try and guess the sex of the baby based on the shape of the bump. Boys are supposed to be carried lower and girls are higher.
If you crave spicy and salty food you will have a boy, if you crave sweet food you will have a girl.
If you have heartburn, you will give birth to a hairy baby. I am in that case giving birth to a baby bear.
Speaking of heartburn, here are some home remedies I have been told to try to reduce it:
apple cider vinegar
yogurt or a spoon of ice cream
water and baking soda
And the one thing that really helped me: almonds! A handful of almonds after a meal really help sooth the tummy. When all else fails, a doctor-perscribed anti-acid is your best friend.
I am equally excited and terrified as we are nearing the finish line! Until the end of third trimester, stay safe and sane!