Being a Pregnant Expat in Saudi Arabia – The Birth!!

Pregnancy

The thought of going into labour is terrifying no matter what country you live in. I must admit I was a little more scared over here just because of the language barrier and not knowing exactly how it was going to happen, how I would arrive at the hospital and how it was all going to work. As I said in my previous post, there isn’t any antenatal support over here so you don’t get a walk through or any kind of advice on what will happen once you go into labour. I guess we were just going to have to wing it!!!

Warning: This will be a full disclosure description of exactly that happened! If you don’t want to know then look away now!!

Saturday 25 January 1:30am

POP! Oh my god my water just broke, and my god did it break, everywhere, all over the bed, leaving a trail as i ran to the bathroom.

Having literally spent the whole day in bed watching friends, eating snacks and just generally making the most of what was hopefully going to be one of our last weekends as a couple (Lucas due date was 24 January) Dave joked before we went to sleep, I think its going to be tonight, I have a really strange and funny feeling so wake me when you go into labour.

So here we are 1:30am, I’m sat in the bathroom unable to move because there is water gushing out of me, every time I tried to stand up out came more, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be able to get to hospital! We weren’t quite sure what to do actually because I wasn’t having any contractions at this point, so Dave rang the hospital, explained that my waters had broken and they told us to come in where they would examine me and decide if I needed to stay or go home.

Off we toddled, bags packed just incase this was it. I had to sit on two towels in the car (I was also wearing a maternity super absorbent pad) which was filling by the second. We got to the hospital, which was around a 20 minute trip at that time in the morning, though there was no need to panic as I wasn’t having any contractions at this point, a few stomach cramps but nothing frequent that I could time. We got to the ER and the guy on the desk rang the labour ward who told us to come up.

2:30 am ish

I was all gowned up, hooked up to the monitor and told I was to stay at the hospital, because my waters had broken. I was told to get some sleep and they would come check on my progress in the morning and if my contractions hadn’t yet started I would be given some drugs to speed it up. Dave curled up on the long window seat in the room and went to sleep, I however, did not!! I was far to excited/scared/worried.

The Delivery Room

The room we were initially taken to was going to be our room throughout the whole labour and delivery, it was huge!! A private room, my own bathroom, lots of space and a little window bench for dave to sit/sleep on.

6am

In comes breakfast!! A nice bit of bread and jam, a juice, some water and a flask of hot water with my choice of other coffee or tea, very pleasant indeed.

7am

I was starting to feel regular contractions at this point about 5-7 minutes apart, but manageable with some deep breathing. The doctor came in to examine me (I might mention at this point that my OB, that I had seen throughout my whole pregnancy was on holiday!!!!!!!) I was 4cm dilated so they decided to give me some drugs to speed things along a little. I was told to finish my breakfast as that was the last thing I was going to be able to eat, it was apple juice or water after that point. Is this the same in the UK?? I wasn’t sure it was, I’m sure mums to be pretty much snack throughout to keep their energy up?!!! Well, not here!!

Also at this point I was asked to turn over onto my side to prepare for my enema!!! Yes, I had an enema!!! I didn’t realise until afterwards that this is quite old fashioned and no longer common practice in the UK. Still, in the words of Meredith Grey, at least I wasn’t going to “poop on the table”.

11am

Contractions were gradually getting more frequent and more painful, still manageable and still no drugs YEY me! I was passing the time watching Coronation Street on ITV Player, as we had wifi access in the room. Dave was passing the time ordering himself a huge club sandwich and chips for lunch whilst I was on apple juice only!! It’s at this point I think I would have benefited greatly from being able to move around, but what with being hooked up to the monitor and my IV this just wasn’t possible, maybe I should have asked to move around but for some strange reason I didn’t, so I had now been lead on my back for 4 hours. The IV in my hand was also REALLY quite sore, more so than the contractions!! The gas and air was quite funny, I really got the giggles for a good 10 minutes, but other than that it did nothing for me other than make me light-headed. It did absolutely nothing for the pain!

12 midday

OK so now it was getting really painful. I didn’t want to have an epidural if I could help it, mainly because I really didn’t want to have a catheter fitted. I was 7cm dilated and wanted some pain relief now. I was told at 7cm the baby would soon be on the way so they would just give me a shot of pethidine.

1pm

The Pethidine did nothing, nothing at all, it didn’t make me sick, or drowsy or take any of the pain away, what a waste I thought, give me an epidural!! I didn’t care at this point I just wanted the pain to go away. Unfortunately it was not to be, I must have been about 8 or 9 cm by this point so they said it was too late for an epidural. GUTTED!

2:30 pm Time to push!!

The OB arrived at this point as I was fully dilated and ready to push, the baby was going to be here soon (or so we thought). I pushed and pushed and pushed and nothing, it didn’t even feel like he was coming out. I didn’t feel like I was pushing correctly if I’m honest, I know you are supposed to push from your bottom like you are going to the toilet, and I was really trying to do that but it just wasn’t happening. I was then given a catheter as my bladder was so full, (must have been all that apple juice as I wasn’t allowed to eat anything!) they released a whole load of urine but still nothing moved. I was told to lie on my left side for 45 minutes and keep pushing every time I had a contraction. The OB left and the nurse was SUPPOSED to stay with me. She didn’t. 30 minutes later a very terrified Dave was shouting for anyone who would come as I was in distress, we were all on our own and had no clue WTF was going on.

3:45pm

The OB came back and was absolutely appalled that we had been left on our own at such a moment. At this point I was so tired and in so much pain I was just kinda out of it! Lucas still wasn’t coming and we were both getting tired. I was given an injection down below getting ready to slice if needed (please god no, i thought) and there was talk about Ventouse, again I really hoped it wouldn’t come down to that.

4:10pm

Emergency C Section time!! I don’t know why that was suddenly decided, i don’t know if Lucas’s heart rate was dropping or what was going on. I think that’s one of the main negatives of the whole experience, no communication, I had no idea what was happening or what should have been happening on or what kind of state Lucas was in. At this point I was so happy to go to sleep just to take the pain away.

4:28pm

Lucas was born! 8lbs 2oz, 51cm and a very healthy baby!!! At this point most babies would be taken over to the parents and the first feed would be tried (I think) obviously I was still asleep and we were very keen to breastfeed Lucas, I’ve heard all sorts of stories of them taking babies away to be circumcised, giving them formula etc etc. This was totally not the case, they asked Dave if he wanted them to feed Lucas and he said no, my wife will want to, so they didn’t and waited until I had come round to give breastfeeding a go. They didn’t whisk him off to be circumcised or anything like that just did the usual tests, gave him a few immunisations, cleaned him, dressed him and took him to the nursery ready for me when I woke up!IMG_3246

6:15pm ish

I’ve been transferred to our very nice private recovery room ready to meet Lucas. Dave rings the nursery and within 15 minutes Lucas was there for our first meeting. It was amazing seeing his little face, he looked exactly like me!!! I’ve lost my voice at this point, this will be because they intubated me when I was put to sleep but who cares, I’m holding my gorgeous little boy and he is wonderful! Breastfeeding didn’t work as I wasn’t producing any milk at this point, common after a c section/traumatic birth apparently, so I just had to wait for the milk to come and in the meantime give him formula.IMG_3235

Our room

Just like a hotel!!! Very big, a sofa big enough for Dave to sleep on, our own bathroom with a shower and all amenities included. A TV, wardrobe, drawers etc. A very welcome sight after the labour! Our home for the next three nights until I recovered.

Recovery

The aftercare I received was amazing, the nurses were very friendly, so attentive and couldn’t do enough. The nursery nurses were also fantastic, brining Lucas in whenever we wanted, showing us how to do things, giving us advice, and also taking him back up to the nursery if we needed a break, particularly if Dave wasn’t there as I was unable to life Lucas up!

The food and meals were great, fresh chicken with rice and vegetables, soup, bread and jam or breakfast in a morning, all very nice!

Looking back

I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone but looking back I don’t think my labour was handled as it should have been. I felt very restricted, very alone and in the dark about what was going on. Maybe it was my own fault for not being more forceful, but I had other things on my mind, like trying to deal with the pain!!! I’m positive had I been more free to move around gravity would have taken control and Lucas would have come naturally. On the plus side, I think the medical staff here are very pro active when it comes to having a c section versus lets keep pushing and pushing and pushing. I pushed for two hours and at that point they decided enough was enough and I’m grateful for that! The aftercare and the fact we had our own private room was amazing and more than makes up for the small blips during labour. We were able to adjust as a little family and get used to everything in the comfort of our own very nice and comfortable room!

I must also note that my scar healed extremely well and extremely quickly, I was up and about within 1 week when Dave went back to work and back at the gym after 6 weeks with no pain after the initial couple of weeks. It’s very small, very neat and very low down!

And Finally

Taking into account all the above, if we were to get pregnant again out here I wouldn’t hesitate to deliver again in Saudi Arabia and I would certainly advise others out here to do the same,but to just be open-minded and not expect the same as you would in the UK.

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