We thank Silvia for sharing her experience of a cesarean birth in Bangalore, India, with lots of local folklore!
I arrived in Bangalore in April 2013 from Italy. My husband’s work had previously taken him to Cairo. My work had been in Italy in a job I loved. Since Bangalore is much further than Cairo, I decided to pack all our things and make a home from home with him in Bangalore. I spent the first year enjoying the good things of expat life, discovering a new city and its culture, making friends and traveling. During the second year I became pregnant and the third, Eugenio was born by cesarean section.
I fully appreciated the positive sides of Bangalore’s private health care system during the last few months of my pregnancy when placenta previa (a condition whereby the placenta lies low in the uterus which could lead to complications in birth) forced me to stay in hospital for a few of weeks. I was very happy with my existing doctor although it is not difficult to choose a physician here as many study and embark on their careers in the States or in England in their chosen field of medicine. They then return to India and join private clinics, ensuring an optimum standard. The result is a mix of Western professionalism and modern and trustworthy medical practices (I discovered there is an international protocol of procedures for pregnancies and births), and the Indian way of caring and treating the sick and needy. From the very beginning I felt welcomed and the attention and warmth shown to me by my doctor, made me realise immediately that she had my best interests at heart.
I can only describe the medical attention towards the patient before delivery as intense. I had been hospitalized because of some blood loss, and all throughout the two weeks, I was constantly visited, encouraged and checked upon. Every ten minutes someone came into my room to offer a snack, a newspaper, to check my blood pressure or just to see whether I was ok or needed something. It is not only a different concept of privacy; it is the approach to the patient that has this component of human warmth, closeness and encouragement. For instance, here I was forever under the impression that things were clearly explained throughout my stay in hospital. While Italian doctors, discuss everything excessively between themselves leaving the average person requiring a bit of clarification, here they take the time to explain every detail simply and clearly as though it is a necessary component to the welfare of the patient. Of course the result is that the patient feels totally relaxed and at ease with whatever is ailing them.
Mine had been a planned cesarean section from the start, and everything went well. I had an en suite single room, and the baby was in the same room with me the whole time (here there is no nursery except in cases of emergency. Even baby’s first bath is done in the room with the mother, a nurse and neonatologist explaining the new procedure). Even then, it was a continuous coming and going of nurses who came to see if everything was alright. This support is certainly a plus especially when you feel vulnerable and you are far from your family and friends. The nurses who assisted during the birth made me feel like a part of their family and even today, when I go to the clinic for a pediatric check-up, I pop into the neonatal section without fail to show them how Eugenio has grown!
As you can see I have had a happy experience during both my pregnancy and the delivery, not to mention the superb after care (you are sent home after 48 hours, but with a comprehensive pain therapy that takes care of any possible tenderness from the c section ). Despite the really modest rate (around 100 euros per day for a single room with bathroom), the service is impeccable.
Of course there are differences with our systems. For instance, the Indian plan for vaccines is far more complex than the Italian one: vaccines are administered during the first six months of baby’s life, whereas in Italy the course is administered over two years.
Post natal care in India allows you to experience the cultural customs that mark this moment of life. For instance, babies are swaddled – not as tightly as was the norm when our grandparents were born – but firmly wrapped in a cotton cloth that keeps baby warm and reminds them of the womb. This practice may seem a little antiquated to us but it certainly does have a way of instilling calmness in the baby.
There is also plenty of popular customary advice given from my neighbours and my maid that I obviously did not follow; not washing your hair for forty days after birth (mother must be absolutely careful not to compromise her health, and having wet hair might expose her to colds), or keeping cotton buds in the ears to protect from air currents. There are also typical dishes prepared and offered to the new mother to keep her strong and healthy. Among these, a recipe using ghee (clarified butter), which has a massive amount of calories and to our Western minds conditioned to immediately lose weight after giving birth, you would avoid like the plague. Doctors try to explain the uselessness or the damage of these practices…often to no avail!
Another custom, even in the wealthiest strata of society, is to send new mothers to live with her parents in law. I have even been told of a case of a poor woman in labour, who had to wait for authorization from her parents in law before she could receive an epidural!
The clinic where I gave birth is the Columbia Asia Hospital, branches can also be found in Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
My surgeon gynecologist is Dr. Jyothi V. Shenoy, who I shall forever be indebted as part of my special adventure of having a baby MADE IN INDIA.
Presently in China
Photos of Silvia
Article translated from Italian by Claudiaexpat and proofread by Sally