When I first got pregnant to my English husband, I had no idea of what to expect in terms of how I was going to be treated compared to English mothers-to-be. I had a lovely surprise and can’t wait to become a foreign mother to a British baby in London. I am going to highlight a few points that made me see how wrong I was of being scared to have a baby here.
1.Treatment during antenatal
I do admit I was scared I was going to be mistreated whilst doing my antenatal at the hospital. I thought the professionals would not give me the same attention as they would to an English mother. At the end of the day, I am a bloody foreigner! However, I am legal, I pay taxes, married to an English man and can communicate very well in English (I think). This helps you to be more accepted by the most radical members of the English society. What I didn’t realise is that part of the staff members are also foreigners! The English ones are so used to dealing with all sorts of foreigner staff and patients that they treat everybody the same way. And I couldn’t be happier with the NHS treatment.
2. Treatment on the streets
I think that people all over the world love a pregnant lady. Here is not different. I thought that people on the street would give me nasty looks for being foreigner and pregnant in their country. However, this isn’t happening. People do have sympathy wherever you go! I am often asked if I want a seat whilst I am in the tube! People usually even break the ice asking “how many months”, “is it your first one”, “how are you feeling”… At the supermarket, if I happen to be with the husband, some people will tell me off if I carry a bag… they usually tell the husband to carry everything for me! I think I am also going to start taking notes of how many people say with security if it is going to be a boy or a girl! It is so funny how some still believe that by just looking at your bump shape that they can tell! Oh and I’ve lost count of how many people look at my bump and smile! Is it really like this in all countries?
3. Other foreigners in the same boat
Since I didn’t know many women around who were pregnant or with babies, I decided to join a group of pregnant ladies in the Meet Up site. I ended up meeting most foreigners rather than English women! The diversity of nationalities is so amazing that I guess we complement each other’s point of view on pregnancy but always following the English model. Some of us have some restrictions in our home countries regarding a particular food or something else. But because we are here, we tend to follow what the English say. It’s been fun and definitely a cultural experience. Oh, and the English of the group (one who is full English and the other who is half English half Nigerian) are also lovely! We have had lots of social encounters, which has been great to talk about babies and our health in general. However, now that the majority are popping, we might have to wait a bit to meet up and update the picture we took earlier this year.
4. Parenting lessons
I don’t know much about other countries, but I know that in Brazil some women attend courses for pregnant ladies or couples, which take place in one day during the week or weekend. Although they are short, I am sure they might cover some important points. Here we have the NCT course. We pay for 6 lessons of two and a half hour each for both parents to be. My husband and I are attending it in our neighbourhood, which is convenient as well as it helps future social get together, as everyone who attends it are locals and with babies about the same age (when we eventually have them). I know people that 10 years after they did the NCT, still rely on the friends they made at the course for babysitting each other’s kids. It’s a win win for everybody. And regarding the amount of foreigners, at least in my class, there are three English couples, a Swedish and English, two French and the Brazilian here and my English one. So far, we all have got along well, although now that the course is about to end, that is when we are going to get to know each other better as we are going to go out more often.
5. “How big” comments
I don’t know about you, but my family and friends never measure what to say to me. So every time we Skype or I send a picture to them, I have to hear “oh my God you are looking huge” or “oh my God you are still looking very small”. I know some people here in London also make the same sort of comment, but obviously in a much lower scale. It’s like people forget you are pregnant and that is natural to gain weight! And obviously not seeing the other one in person, give false estimations to those in the other side of the ocean but who clearly still like to judge you and say what they think. So I personally find it easier to deal with my pregnancy from here rather than being closer to them. Sometimes it hurt less not having to hear those comments all the time.
6. Labour process
Brazil is famous for the high number of Caesareans. It is a sad reality that sometimes it is the doctor’s fault (they apparently earn more if they schedule a c-section, besides being more convenient, as they don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to assist somebody). They end up creating the most nonsense excuses to convince women that a c-section is the way forward: umbilical cord around the baby’s neck, high or low blood pressure, baby too big or too small, mother too short, previous caesarean… the list is long. Unfortunately I also have several friends who prefers caesarean for the sake of not having to go through the pain. And that is not low educated women. A friend of mine is a dentist and said “no way” for normal birth. She considered it a “non civilised” thing to do. That makes me wonder, “are Brazilians too posh to push”?
I have had a very easy pregnancy and hopefully I will be able to have normal birth. It actually makes me feel more comfortable being here rather than in Brazil due to the facts that I am more likely to have normal birth. I was once watching an episode of One Born every minute (I love the show and learned a lot from it), which was using a Brazilian couple as one of their characters. Unfortunately due to a few complications, the Brazilian lady ended up having to have a c-section. She cried and so did I. It is really frustrating being away from the Brazilian system and still end up having to go through a c-section. However, we have to do what is best for our baby. However, hopefully I will still write a post of how amazing my natural labour was in London!