From the onset, once a pregnancy test turns positive, the next phase of life is to schedule the maiden antenatal clinic which for a matter of urgency, should be to bring along the other partner. Most tests will be done on the woman, but the most critical one if you ask me is the HIV test which is carried out to both partners. It’s important because it’s meant to safeguard the fetus while forming in the mother’s womb and for posterity purposes. Further, this session is meant to orient the couple on the pregnancy journey and of course establishing the first probable Expected Delivery Date (EDD) be it from the compass-like tool the clinician uses to the scan. Most scans are close to perfectly accurate at weeks 9 to week 22 since, beyond that, the fetus keeps growing pretty fast making it complex for the scan to capture all the organs in tandem and perfectly. My point is, don’t be surprised when at week 38 the scan suggests you are two weeks behind schedule hence throwing a spanner to all your plans. Recall, it’s perfectly normal to have more than one EDD since it’s a game of probability.
Something else, halfway through the pregnancy, the hospital where one is to deliver should be earnestly identified. And that said, there are parameters to observe when choosing a maternal hospital namely; cost, service oriented and distance. With the hard economic torrents remaining bullish to our present times, many of us find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. While you may wish to give your unborn baby a decent delivery-hospital in matters professional service, in most cases it’s pegged at a huge cost. Now, Kenyan hospitals are broadly classified into three classes; Private, mission and public hospitals. In most cases, Private hospitals score big on matters service delivery. What I mean is, that one’s patient has a very high likelihood of getting personalized and well-catered attention. However, the same Private hospitals are notorious for being sneaky and mischievous in their billing. You’ll find that there are so many charges which will cost you an arm and a leg since their darkest underbelly is manipulating bills anyway. Hence it’s appropriate for one to be well prepared be it through a reliable insurance cover or moneywise.
Mission hospitals have shown lots of tremendous improvement on matters service delivery and besides, are not as expensive as most private hospitals. However, without a reliable cover too, be it, NHIF or employer cover or one that an individual has subscribed to, the billing can still be quite expensive. The good news with Public hospitals is that maternity is officially free at least with the Jubilee government regime. However, service delivery is highly compromised and too wanting, of course made worse by the prolonged Nurses’ strike which is over 4 months now. But do many of us have the luxury of an option? Of importance though, is to appreciate that NHIF cover is at its best currently. As long as one has a clean statement meaning they have zero defaults or penalties in their monthly premiums, one is expected to reap big especially if one’s patient is in a mission hospital. As a matter of fact, mission hospitals offering NHIF payment terms literally pay close to 98% of the maternity bills whether the patient had complications or not!
Thank God if the pregnancy is all smooth sailing, a few hiccups here and there notwithstanding. If complications come, that shouldn’t ever write off the joy of carrying a pregnancy. Count your blessings as you may know, a good number strive to conceive for years in vain. For some, they develop diabetic pregnancy caused by an increase in glucose in the body. To others, they succumb to blood pressure which if not managed well can put the life of the unborn in high risk (Preeclampsia). Some may have a history of miscarriages, bleeding from the onset, Ectopic pregnancy, Placenta Previa, Premature labor and birth and rhesus-factor incompatibilities. It’s highly advisable to seek services of a gynaecologist if experiencing some of these or more complications as early as possible in the gestation period. On a lighter note, positive energy is key as pregnancy moods are unpredictable. One day you wake up okay, the other you wake up with zero energies or moods that make you believe you should be bedridden.
As a first-time parent, there are things one tends to appreciate in the entire process of delivering a baby. That Labor is extremely tough but very much surmountable! The thing is, there are a lot of grey areas for our generation in matters labor experiences due to the disconnect in information sharing amongst ourselves and especially from our older peers brought about by cultural degradation, for lack of a better term. You’ll realize, many of us are clueless on the very basic signs of labor or if we have an idea, it’s very much fluid and unclear. From what I gathered, women go through labor very dynamically. There is never a clean script or uniformity; every woman has her own experience, in fact, different from one pregnancy to the other. Interestingly, in as much as labor is associated with crude pain, some don’t feel any pain at all, but a majority do experience havoc, confusion and anything in between.
Actually, I’m reliably told some carry their bibles and read from cover to cover all in an attempt to interrogate God what they could have done to warrant such pain. Others give their life to Jesus in the process, through confessing and taking an oath of being Christ’s followers while some take it a notch higher – They never at any juncture wish to spot their husbands walking around the labor ward or attempting to comfort them. They tend to blame them for all the ‘anguish’. The good thing is, once labor pains are concluded, everything settles down normally including the wild spirits of dissenting one’s husband’s in the open or hurling insults at them. In my community they say, a child travels from far to be delivered. By the way, men should keep off labor ward if they harbor any desires of having more babies. I tell you why; chances are, she can easily disown you upon meeting your sight in this room. Plus, it’s not fair watching your woman helplessly bite a metallic bed and kick everything in her vicinity including uprooting her weave, throwing off her phone and handbag and soliciting the baby to kindly pop out!
The following are the tell-tale signs to check out for or what can be referred to us the red signs in matters true labor stage; 1.) Be very careful when strong and regular contractions start building up. This shouldn’t be confused with false labor otherwise called Braxton Hicks contractions which normally have irregular contractions and are typically weak in strength if a woman changes position or takes a walk or rests. 2.) If her water breaks and consequently start leaking, one should rush to hospital immediately. 3.) Bloody vaginal discharge is another red sign that should alarm the person involved. 4.) Lower back pains and nausea too should be taken seriously. More fundamentally, one should present herself to hospital if the EDD passes on with no signs as highlighted above have been experienced.
The next battleground after labor ordeal is the art of breastfeeding. Many first time mothers will attest, it’s never simple as it appears. From how to hold the baby to how to position the breast, can be challenging at first. In fact, to some, the challenge either lies in lack of milk at all, lack of sufficient milk, plenty of milk but the baby won’t breastfeed which could easily cause mastitis and nipple alignment challenges. Some of the tips in best practice when it comes to breastfeeding include; mother-infant tummies to be close together, the infant mouth to cover most of the areola (dark layout after the nipple), baby’s chin must touch the breast, the infant to have his/her mouth wide open before inserting the nipple, mother supporting the infant’s entire body, infant’s nose should be opposite the nipple and many others. Effective suckling can be determined through establishing if; Slow deep sucks and sometimes pausing while suckling (Infant’s suckling is irregular), infant’s chicks are round shape when suckling, baby releases breast when milk is fully finished, mother’s breasts feel relaxed. By the way, engorged breastfeeding can be undone through homemade ways that include massaging the breast with a warm hand towel or manually or electronically expressing the milk through a pump-milk equipment.
As an excited first time dad, you’ll be amazed by some small achievements like changing diapers, babysitting a 5 days infant which will include fathoming where to put your left and right arm (Most men will be fearful of handling an infant), composing lullaby songs and lulling the baby to sleep, helping in cleaning the infant and many other small wins like helping in massaging your woman’s breasts not boobs (mothers have breasts not boobs, and it comes with a price) when it clogs with excess milk, or taking charge in supporting her with or without a house girl. Some social media busybodies will cheapen these wins. They will joke on how superficial, contemporary husbands appear to be and how they can’t keep up with a successful career woman. Some cheap internet personas will write and lecture us in their newspaper columns on how marriage is not an achievement, but who cares; Life is all about the everyday small wins.
While at it, it will hit you that you wake up around 10am and only retire to bed not earlier than 1am after showering at 12am due to juggling from one task to the other be it cleaning the dishes, rushing to the market to get some green fodder, taking a bike to one Mr. Abdul who is a camel butcher to fetch the oxtail bone which you’ll use to make soup for your woman, to sifting the black beans (Njahe) and lentils grains(Kamande) to fermenting porridge from Mama Ngotho who is a self-made specialist in matters porridge flour for her clientele who’ll include breastfeeding mothers, pregnant women, clients battling overweight issues, underweight people, slay queens trying to tame their tummy sizes, babies with appetite issues, terminal illness patients and many others.
Finally, watching your baby fall to sleep will be the most beautiful adventure your eyes will have fallen onto in recent times. You’ll desire to stick in there and stare her breathe life occasionally making smiles in her small dreams to much of your amusement. You’ll watch this soul with a clean life sheet and zero sins apart from what Jesus died for, follow your voice with her feeble neck and almost touch the palpable delight on your face.
Enough of maternal stuff