Archive | June, 2011

Part 2- A Cultural Pregnancy

22 Jun

Here we go again! The much anticipated Part 2 of ‘A Cultural Pregnancy’ has arrived.

This post features my friend Adriel, who is living in Australia and my friend April who I went to high school with in America.

Once again- enjoy!

April- An American, through and through- born and raised in the US, American husband and two pregnancies and births in the US. With her first pregnancy, April had a vaginal birth with an epidural & gave birth to a beautiful little girl. During her second pregnancy, her son was breach so she had a C-section at 39 weeks.

– What is considered a normal birth situation in your country?

I feel as though vaginal births are normal, however it seems that scheduled C-sections are on the rise with so many doctors prefering them, since it doesn’t interfere with their schedules.

– Is your gynecologist automatically your obstetrician (baby doctor) as well?
Yes, most doctors here are OB/GYN’s and practice both.

– How often did you have scans/ultrasounds during your pregnancy? Who performed them?

In a normal, healthy pregnancy there are only 2 scans- one at 8 weeks (vaginally) and then one around 18-20 weeks to check growth and the sex. I had at least 4-5 during both of my pregnancies but that was because of other issues. With my daughter, it was because I had a miscarriage at 20wks before her so my doctor, who I use to work with, wanted to reassure me. With my son, my new doctor checked on him regularly because his growth wasn’t “normal”. They also wanted to check for things that might have been affected by my miscarriage as it was a genetic mutation. They wanted to make sure both my pregnancies were okay and if they was anything abnormal, it was caught early on through the scans.
– Are you encourage or discouraged to receive an epidural or any other delivery drugs?

I would say encouraged but I also think that women who have vaginal deliveries without drugs always have some sort of “superior” attitude towards women who have drugs, which is stupid. With drugs, you’re still going to be sore the same amount of time, you just don’t have to feel the baby pop out.

– Are C-sections for emergency use only or can they be elective by you or your doctor?
Both. Although my doctor told me that she, and I’m assuming most other doctors, won’t induce a vaginal birth or book a C-section until 39 weeks. The insurance companies won’t cover it unless it is an emergency. I had originally scheduled to be induced at 39 for this reason! Why wait another week? I had to have a C-section though in the end because my son was breach.

– Is breast feeding or bottle feeding the norm?
I definitely think breast feeding is very much encouraged, though I think bottle feeding is also very common. Not a lot of women BF in public so they usually take a bottle that’s pumped milk to feed. I hate that so many people think it’s important to BF, yet when you are BFing in public, people glare at you like you are committing a sin. I could understand if my baby was 2 and I was BF or if my boob was completely hanging out but even if you are completely covered, there is still an attitude of grossness that people project onto you.
– What is the size of an average family?

Technically, I believe the average is 3.5 children. However:) I would say that most people here have 1-2 kids.

– Is it normal to have help with you baby? (ie. full time maid, nanny, mother helping for a bit)

No. I don’t know anyone that has maid or nanny. Though, it is definitely helpful for me that my parents and in-laws live close to help me out when I need it. If I knew someone that had a maid or nanny, then I would think they were rich.

– Is a SAHM a luxury or the norm?
Luxury. When I tell people I am a SAHM, they all say how lucky I am as if it isn’t such a normal thing. I think especially with the economy now days, most people are struggling and therefore both parents normally work. Which is insane to me! I want to raise my kids, not a daycare. Plus, daycare is SUPER expensive that by the time you do the math, you are working to pay for your kids to go to daycare.

Adriel from 
An American married to an Australian, living in Australia. She first went into labor with a mid-wife at a birthing center only to be transferred to a hospital for an emergency C-section after twelve hours of labor because her son was breech.

– What is considered a normal birth situation in your country?

A vaginal birth in hospital by a doctor.

– Is your gynaecologist automatically your obstetrician (baby doctor) as well?

No, we don’t really have gynos or OB’s. We see our general doc (GP – general practitioner) and they do our gyno exams. If there was a problem, they would only refer us to a specialist. You continue to see your GP throughout your pregnancy and have 1-2 appointments at the hospital with whatever OB is on call that day- once around 24 weeks, another at 38 weeks-ish. When you go into labor your GP isn’t the delivering doctor, the baby is just delivered by whatever OB and/or midwife is on call. However, if you go through a birthing center (all natural, no drugs offered, but only low-risk patients allowed) then you have a midwife that does all of your prenatal appointments, your delivery, and the follow-up care. Otherwise it’s just your GP doing pre and post appointments and the on-call OB doing delivery. All of this is completely free through the public health care system.

– How often did you have scans/ultrasounds during your pregnancy? Who performed them?

You typically get a date scan around 8/9 weeks and another at 18/20 weeks. You are only booked for another if there is a medical reason. An ultra sound tech does the scan and then sends results to your doctor. You have to book another appointment with your doctor to get the results.

– Are you encouraged or discouraged by your medical staff to receive an epidural or any other delivery drugs?

If you go to a hospital-run birth class they educate you about both ways and in the end it’s your choice.

– Are C-sections for emergency use only or can they be elective by you or your doctor?

I’m not sure about this one. I don’t know anyone who’s had an elective c/s, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible..

– Is breast feeding or bottle feeding the norm?

Both, but I see a lot of nursing moms as it is very acceptable to nurse in public.

– What is the size of an average family? (ie. 2 kids, 6 kids, etc)

I would say 2-3 kids.

– Are SAHM’s a luxury or a norm?

Both – depends on the family.

– Is it normal to have help with you baby? (ie. full time maid, nanny, mother helping for a bit)


– Any other interesting facts about your birthing nation in regards to pregnancy and child birth?

Now with my 2nd baby I’m not allowed to go back to the birthing center because I’ve had a C-section the first time around and am now considered high risk. I will have to be cared for by my GP all the way through this pregnancy. The goal is to deliver VBAC in hospital with an OB unless something comes up making that not possible.

Also, I mentioned this earlier but all of my pregnancy care was free. I spent $30 to have access to TV while I was in the hospital. So my delivery only cost us $30 out of our pocket- nice!

Thanks a million to Adriel (from and April for being a part of Part 2 of ‘A Cultural Pregnancy’. You guys are rock stars!

Unfortunately, Blogger is being a pain in the bum and won’t let me upload any photos! Otherwise, I would have added pics of April & Adriel for your viewing pleasure. How dare Blogger be so difficult! Don’t they know I have adoring fans to entertain? But alas, it is what it is- sorry:( So that also means no signature sign off logo. Today you’ll have to suffice with…

that’s how they roll 



A Cultural Pregnancy- Part 1

19 Jun

About 2.5 months ago… before Keena learned to walk, before we had that onslaught of sickness and before we went to Durban for a wedding… before aaaaall of that, I posted my upcoming blogs and had quite a few requests for this particular blog topic.

It’s taken me a while to put it together because of all the above mentioned circumstances… plus, I suddenly got very nervous about writing it! I grew up in America, lived in Australia for four years & have now resided in South Africa for five. I feel that I’ve experienced enough day to day life in these nations to speak about their culture… but I’m still somewhat afraid that I’ll say something that isn’t totally accurate and misrepresent one of these nations! I know that no one’s perfect but still, isn’t it better to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth? So… I’ve asked friends of mine living all over the world to answer a few questions for us to give us an idea of how their nation handles pregnancy and childbirth.

You’ll be amazed at how, in today’s day and age, with all the advanced technology, global social networking, international conferences and precise information we have that’s only one click away… two nations can take the same information and facts and translate them completely differently based on that nations values, health & insurance schemes, logic and priorities. Obviously I’m specifically referring to pregnancy and childbirth but you get the point.

As I started putting together the responses I received, it turned out to be quite lengthy so this is going to be a 3 part series.

I’m kicking it off with my experience here in South Africa. It’s kinda lengthy but interesting info. You must enjoy and stay tuned for more! 

Myself- An American married to a South African, living in South Africa (in case you haven’t read my “About Me”) I had a scheduled C-section performed by my gynecologist  in a hospital.

– What is considered a normal birth situation in your country?

Stastitically speaking, a C-section is the norm. South Africa has the highest C-section rate in the world at a whopping 60%. Many women choose to have a C-section long before their due date actually arrives and many of our doctors encourage this. All births are performed in a hospital by a gynaecologist.

– Is your gynaecologist automatically your obstetrician (baby doctor) as well?

Yes. Gynie’s do it all here- regular ‘women stuff’, pregnancy and births. I saw my baby doctor/gynie at every single appointment and he delivered my twins too. If you have a natural birth your gynie meets you at the hospital when you go into labor, unless they are out of town or busy with a C-section. Many doctors here like scheduling C-sections so they can plan their schedules more effiecently. A lot of women who have natural birth choose to use a midwife who is basically a birth-coach and does a few house visits after you’ve been discharged from hospital.

– How often did you have scans/ultrasounds during your pregnancy? Who performs them?

You typically have your first scan around 8/9 weeks and every 4 weeks after that if you have medical insurance. If you don’t have insurance people usually go for the 2 major scans, being the 10/12 week and 24 week scan. I had scans every four weeks (which is normal) and because I had twins, once I reached 30 weeks I had a scan every 2 weeks until I delivered. My gynie performed all the scans in his room at each visit.

– Are you encouraged or discouraged by your medical staff to receive an epidural or any other delivery drugs?

I would definitely say that you’re encouraged to have some sort of labor drug here. I obviously can’t speak from first hand experience but I do know that any of my friends who wanted to go without drugs had to really put their foot down with their doctor multiple times. It feels like the women who really try for a vaginal birth are seen as hardcore, even with most of them knowing that they’re going to take an epidural. The woman who go without drugs during a vaginal birth are seen to be SUPER-SUPER hardcore… and maybe a little crazy/ambitious:) 

– Are C-sections for emergency use only or can they be elective by you or your doctor?
Both. It is very common here to have elective C-sections. When you first go to the doctor you are asked if you’d like to have a vaginal birth or a C-section and many woman here choose to have a C-section. At least in my city, many of the gynies recommend you have a C-section regardless. This way you can be more prepared and they can plan their schedule better. Before I found out I was having twins, I had to switch doctors to one of the only pro-natural gynies in town to have a good shot at having a vaginal birth. Obviously none of that was relevant once I found out about the twins anyway. I’ve also noticed that regardless of the baby’s position or a woman’s hip size, if the baby is 4kg+ (8.8lbs) in your last few weeks of pregnancy, your doctor will almost definitely recommend you have a scheduled C-section.

– Is breastfeeding or bottle feeding the norm?

I think this is 50/50 here. Breastfeeding is most definitely recommended even if only for a few weeks, but it’s not pushed ridiculously to the point where you’re shunned if you don’t do so. When you deliver, a nurse comes to you and asks if you want to bottle or breastfeed and it’s labeled on your babies chart. It is slightly uncommon to find women who have breastfed up to a year or more. I think a lot of this has to do with the stress of cultural norms as it’s completely unacceptable to breastfeed in public and there are very few feeding rooms in public places. When some of my friends wanted to go to the mall with their family while they were breast feeding, they have had to sit on a public toilet to feed their baby! I wouldn’t want to keep going if I had to do that either! I never publicly breastfed cause I had to basically take off my whole shirt as I was feeding 2 babies at once which… isn’t really appropriate in any nation… except maybe Europe. Hooter Hiders or Hide-n-Feeds as we call them, have just come to our city in the last 2-3 years and are becoming very popular, but still… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman using one in public. I think this is sad. But you need the full picture to understand.  South Africa is a VERY diverse nation & in some of the people groups here breastfeeding is very normal… so normal that whole boobs are whipped out in church or at the super market or wherever they happen to be. So like all things, I think many have gone to the opposite extreme. 

– What is the size of an average family?

Two kids seems to be the norm. Anything more than that and people think you have a big family. Total strangers will stop to ooh and aww over the twins and comment on how lucky I am that I “got it all done in one shot”- two kids, one pregnancy. When Husband and I say we actually love kids and that we are going to have more they’re super shocked and give us the “you’re flippin’ crazy” face.

– Are SAHM’s a luxury or a norm?

Most definitely a luxury… huge luxury.

– Is it normal to have help with you baby? (ie. full time maid, nanny, mother helping for a bit)

Yes, totally normal. South Africa is a culture of domestic help. As long as I’ve lived here we’ve had a maid who comes twice a week and cleans my house from top to bottom and does all the laundry. Many families get a full time maid when they have a child who doubles up as a nanny, regardless of whether the mother is going back to work or not. (And when I say ‘many families’ I mean your average middle class family, not only extremely wealthy people.) Once you have a second child it’s almost assumed that you’ll have a full time nanny/maid. Many people here were shocked to find out that I chose not to have a nanny but to rather take care of the girls myself. Many families also have a small living quarters off the side of their house where their nanny can live. In the case of these families, the nanny/maid is usually sent on a cooking course so she can help with the cooking especially at night or help as a night nurse depending on your arrangement with her.  

– Any other interesting facts about your birthing nation in regards to pregnancy and child birth?

When I first moved here I was completely shocked and upset at how high C-section rates were. I blamed doctors for being too busy to wait for labor and not skilled enough to deal with the complications that can arise. After being here for a while… I’ve totally changed my tune. Never once in the five years that I’ve lived here have I known a friend or heard of a friend-of-a-friend or anyone for that matter, who has given birth and ended up with a still born, brain damaged or handicapped child from vaginal childbirth complications. NEVER ONCE. I’m sure it does happen but it’s rare. So before you get your panties in a wad (like I did) about our C-section rate, understand that our doctors are conservative and want our babies to come out alive and healthy at all costs. If there even looks like a possible risk, they often don’t chance it and I don’t think you can fault them for that. Plus, who cares if they want to schedule C-sections? At least then you are assured that the doctor you’ve spent 9 months building a relationship with will be there for your delivery. They might even be a little more calm and collected than if it was an emergency, or if they’ve missed their best friends wedding cause your baby decided to make an entrance into the world.

Well folks, that’s me. That’s my experience of being pregnant in South Africa. Now you know…

Not a Photo Mom

5 Jun

If you’re going to follow my blog I feel like there is something you’re going to have to learn and just accept about me….

I am not a photo mom.

There. I said it!

You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now a days it seems like, along with all the other million responsibilites mothers have, being an amatuer photographer has also been added to the list. With most of the mom-blogs I follow the moms take beautiful, artist pictures of their kids regularly. They’re great photos and you can see that the moms love photographing their children. But that is just not me.

Maybe I should take this moment to tell you that before I had my girls I was… dun dun dun dun – a professional photographer! Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that now, were yah? I even went to photography school and everything. In fact, I went to photography school thinking that I wanted to do photojournalism and quickly found out that I am a horrible photojournalist! Ninety percent of my classmates revelled in carrying around their camera’s EVERYWHERE THEY WENT so that they didn’t miss a single moment of capturable life. I tried this and totally sucked at it. I found that even if I duct taped my camera to my arm, I would still miss the moment. The few times that I caught a kodak moment were very disappointing experiences. I realized that I would much rather be a part of the moment than take a picture of it at all. If I took a picture then I had no emotional connection to it cause I didn’t really experience it… or so I feel.

So that’s that. Just wanted to give you a heads up not to expect any wizz bang photography in this blog- sorry.

However, I would like to make a mommy resolution to take a least 1 picture of the girls per day with Old Faithful (aka my cell phone camera). I might not get the perfect angle or light, incredible depth of field & vibrant colors but at the end of the day something is much better than nothing in my books… plus, I have tons of really cool filters on my Iphone that are fun to use:)

 So I shall aim for 1 photo per day and kick it off with this:

The girls riding in the trolley at the super market. (Keena kind of looks like she’s doped up but it was 5 o’clock when I took this, so be nice.)
Cell phone camera pictures…