Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rooming in

Being as I am fully pregnant and obsessed with it, I have spent a lot of time reading books about pregnancy and babies over the past few months. It really is a full time job, keeping up with various symptoms, baby fruit sizes, and the many rare but terrifying things that could go wrong.

My main sources have been two very different books. The British  bestseller, Rough Guide to Pregnancy, is irreverent and funny. Every week's chapter opens with a line showing the length of the baby, which I enjoy holding up to my belly and marvelling at.

For better coverage of medical mishaps and physical symptoms I've  been perusing the US classic,  What to Expect When You're Expecting. Every month's chapter starts with a list of what 'you may be feeling', which always includes constipation, flatulence, and 'emotional'.

It's a balanced diet of pregnancy info.

I'm also enjoying spotting the discrepancies between US and UK approaches to pregnancy. 'Rooming in' is one that, as I contemplate the hospital trip that is ahead of me, leapt from the pages. Keeping babies in a nursery while mum overnights in a nice quiet room is still apparently fairly common, judging by this What to Expect story.

I don't think it's nearly as common in the UK. Unless your baby needs special care, they usually do 'room in' with you. In fact, it's not really usual for a woman to stay in overnight in the UK, unless there's something wrong, or there's a need for longer observation of the mum or baby. A few hours after any straightforward birth, once the baby's had a feed and the mum's had a cup of tea, the NHS like to pack you off home asap.

In the US, I gather, it's much more normal to stay in hospital overnight. But then, the whole event is a lot more medicalised. Midwives deliver babies in only 8% of US births - the rest are delivered by obstetricians. By contrast in the UK midwives, armed only with gas and air and pethidine, deliver the vast majority of babies in the UK.

I've  become aware that most of my US readers think I'm a little nuts for imagining I can go into hospital, give birth without a doctor to 'help' me, and be home the very same day. It's fairly normal behaviour over here. So like the crazy Brit I am, that's exactly what I'm hoping to do. Watch this space....

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