All the conversations around mother’s day, followed by a birth next door, and delightful visits and interaction with my niece’s rather rapidly growing baby brought back a spate of memories, which naturally led to taking out my stack of albums (actual physical photo albums) and reminiscing. Since my son’s home for his summer project, I am busy in the kitchen, and enjoying movies with the family. Good ol’ digital detox—less time online.
As per tradition, we walked down nostalgia lane, exchanging stories. In retrospect, everything seems funny, even the serious stuff.
Naturally conversation turned to my wedding. Since I married “late” by normal standards, my family was stressing over whether I’d have issues over having issues. Pun intended. They heaved a collective sigh of relief when I announced that I was pregnant.
I still remember that balmy April evening when we went to the local clinic after I missed my period for two months in a row to consult a doctor. Sure enough, she recommended a pregnancy test among others, and the next evening had us whooping with joy over the news.
Of course, our next task was to find a good gynecologist who’d hold my hand until the day I held my bundle of joy in my arms. What a challenge that was!
Having a baby is no piece of cake. There was so much to find out, so much to do!
Our biggest question was where to deliver. We lived in Mumbai. I had my Mum-in-law in Delhi. My Mom was in Hyderabad. Closest family in Chennai. So where? It became a family matter.
While everyone did the research, we also asked around for prospective gynecologist. Word of mouth is all very well, but there’s more to it while finding the right gynecologist.
I remember the first one we visited. We waited. And waited, in spite of an appointment, then after two and a half hours just left. She was a reputed doctor, but the wait got us thinking—and added to that, the commute each time. She had a busy practice. So, would I receive the support I needed? What if there was an emergency? It was true that she had a great success rate, but with an established practice and her heavy workload, she delivered almost ten to fifteen babies a month in more than one hospital. If we were intimidated by our commute, what about her juggling her patients and her other commitments? After all, she was human, too; wouldn’t it be challenging for her to devote the time and attention a patient needed?
Finally, the decision was made when my husband insisted my Mom should come and live with us. Everyone was happy with that decision and so, I delivered where we lived, confident about my Mom’s loving care.
But as it happened, what was to be a textbook case natural delivery became an emergency cesarean after more than fifteen hours of labor. Closer to the delivery time, both my son and I went into trauma with his head stuck, and they rushed me into the operation theatre where the joy of our lives was born. Luckily, I had an experienced gynecologist with all the support required in the form of skilled nursing staff, junior doctors, excellent hospital facilities, and so on.
While we were all worked up about this last minute development even though everything had panned out well, we were surprised to find that quite a few families opted for a cesarean rather than a natural birth. In fact, insisted on it for various reasons. In most cases, they are not even aware of the risks associated with it.
Did you know that children born naturally are less likely to develop respiratory issues? Like any surgery, cesarean is a major surgery and carries its risks. Unless there’s a medical reason for one, as it happened in my case, a vaginal birth is best. Cesareans can raise the risk for infections, bladder and bowel injuries, and serious complications in future pregnancies.
Last year, when my niece was approaching her delivery date, she sat on the fence over a natural birth vs. cesarean. Her Mom-in-law convinced her that a natural birth is best, especially in times when cesarean rates are so high and choosing the gynecologist becomes critical for avoiding the risk of having an emergency surgery.
In fact, she insisted she should deliver in Sitaram Bhartia hospital, which, in 2016 had an 88% normal delivery rate for first-birth low-risk mothers. It also declares its cesarean rates on its website.
The truth is, regardless of the cost of cesarean delivery in Delhi, even the best gynecologist needs a reliable team to provide the mother-to-be with good quality care during those pregnancy months, then labor followed by delivery. After a woman first finds out about her pregnancy, naturally there are a million questions, and these are best answered by antenatal educators. Then, during labor and delivery, which can take up to 24 hours for first time mothers, as it happened in my case, support in the form of junior doctors and nurses, in a hospital that has 24 x 7 facilities and specialists on call. In my case, I remember how my doctor called the neo-natologist and had him there in 15 minutes.
My niece finally did find the best gynecologist in Delhi at Sitaram Bhartia and my grand-nephew was born via a natural birth, with the support of her doctor and her team. She had the best care and as she likes to refer to it, “a most enjoyable delivery” clearly a positive birth experience without the unnecessary complications of a C-section. Even if her gynecologist was away on an emergency when she had an appointment with her, there was always another to attend to her, ensuring that she never missed her check-up.
Today, her son is a year old, and she still relies on the same hospital for her healthcare.
A good gynecologist is almost as important as finding the right life-partner, eh?
And when it comes to those miracles known as babies, only the best will do, since their lives depend on it!
Do you have a birth story to tell?