Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Natural Birth Resources in Mexico City

Besides an ounce or two of formula the nursery gave my son without asking (sneaky, they were, by feeding it to him in a cup), we were very satisfied with our birthing experience here in Mexico City. While I ended up not giving birth in the water, Kishan was born naturally, but not without a supportive team of doctors, doulas, and my husband.

Like I posted before, it took some digging to find doctors and hospitals that were pro-natural birth, pro-lactation, and pro-rooming in (alojamiento conjunto). The general term for this here in Mexico is psicoprofiláxsis. Below is a small list of resources I came across as I was researching having a natural birth in Mexico.

Plenitude (Guadalajara)
Links to Mexico resources from Midwifery Today
Hospital Medica Sur - Lomas (women's hospital that specializes in maternity)

The psicoprofiláxsis community is quite small here in Mexico, and nearly all of them have contacts in other cities besides DF if you can't find what you're looking for on your own.

Welcome to the world, Kishan!

Born two weeks early, Kishan arrived on July 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm. Everyone's healthy and happy, except when there's gas :(

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Natural Birth in Mexico

According to my lamaze teachers/doulas, caesarean sections account for nearly 85-90% of all hospital births here in Mexico City. Now, of the 85-90%, I don't know what the breakdown is for elective vs. necessary c-sections, but it's pretty apparent that women in the DF are having c-sections more than they should. To the point that there are coined words in the natural birthing community: cesariaólogo -- a doctor who prefers c-sections -- and innecesaria, in reference to the inordinate amount of c-sections that are performed without real medical need.

In a country where obstetricians still attend labor from start to finish, natural birth can be a slow and not so financially rewarding procedure. From a cesariaólogo's point of view, it's not hard to see why c-sections are preferable: it takes 20 minutes and you don't lose sleep like you would attending a 20+ hour labor, you get paid more by insurance, and you're still be able to attend your other patients in the clinic. Actually, I've quickly learned that a tell-tale sign that your OB/GYN leans towards c-sections is that they always keep their appointments versus the natural birth doctors who are always having to cancel you to attend a labor.

Much before I got pregnant and not realizing the kind of politics that go into having a baby here in Mexico, I blindly chose an OB/GYN through my insurance network. It seemed to work out great because my doctor was only a block away, she spoke English, and she guided us through some fertility issues we were having. But, once I got pregnant, I had an idea of what kind of labor and delivery I wanted: a natural one and probably one that included delivering in water. She seemed taken aback by the ideas I had in my head, and I quickly discerned that she was one of those: a cesariaólogo.

Stunned by her reaction, I decided to search out a new doctor. Who knew that you had to fight so hard to do something your body was designed to do?? I realized that in a country where c-section is the norm, if you want and/or can have a vaginal birth (epidural or not), it is essential to find a doctor who respects that decision. Otherwise, you might get find yourself in the heat of the moment, succumbing to a doctor's advice that a c-section is necessary "for the health of you and the baby."

I feel like such a rebel for seeking out a doctor who regards natural birth so highly, but it's just the unfortunate rate of c-section here that has me running to the other side like some kind of radical. Which I'm not. I just wanted a doctor who respects my body and what it can do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ode to Street Food

Mexico City has a street food scene that rivals the best in the world. The street food is so good that it sits in my Top 3 things I'll miss most about Mexico, just behind tropical fruits and the weather. This video by MC Luka is a delicious ode to Mexico's street food, and if you know Mexico City, you'll recognize some or most of the sites. I'll be referring back to this video often when I'm sitting at home in street food-less Madrid, wishing for a freshly-pressed, hot tortilla de masa just off the comal.

There's a drink mentioned called Tejuino that I've never tried because it's only found in certain states. Those of you in Jalisco and Guadalajara, what's Tejuino like? Recently, I saw someone on a travel show drinking it with a dollop of nieve de limón, to which the host described as tasting like a margarita. And, according to MC Luka, a great hangover drink, too?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moving on

Baby's due date is only five weeks away, but there's a full moon coming next week that has me a little anxious that he/she will come earlier than expected. And friends here have also said it's not uncommon to go into labor early -- something about the high altitude. Probably an urban legend, but between the full moon and the high altitude, I'm gonna pack a hospital bag this weekend.

Besides the impending life overhaul we're about to experience, there's been other BIG news. It's all sort of happening at the same time (not really my preference), but we are gearing up to leave Mexico after the baby arrives. :( Normally, couples move closer to family after having a baby, but we're going much further to La Patria -- Spain. Nick accepted a position within the same company but in the Madrid office.

I've known for awhile, but I delayed sharing the news for several reasons. One, I've been wrapped up in the baby thing, and two, I find it hard to write that we are leaving. Our life here in Mexico has been special in so many ways despite the ups and downs of living in what is sometimes a very frustrating environment. We were married right before we moved down to Mexico, so being newlyweds in a new country has been an adventure that required us to lean on one another for support (especially on those days we had to make trips to the bank!).

And, obviously, we've developed a community of friends who we'll miss dearly and a way of life that has grown comfortable. Sometimes I do envy the friends back home who've built their nests, speak the native language, and are surrounded by family, but this is the choice we've made. And despite asking myself (more now these days) "What in the world are you doing?" I know it's an opportunity that many only dream about.

So once the baby arrives, we'll complete the mountain of paperwork to get him/her US citizenship and a passport, and soon after, we'll be embarking for Spain. I'm assuming this will be around September. It seems far enough away, but I know we won't be the boss of our time once the baby comes. My mind is jumbled with nostalgia and baby thoughts, so if this baby can hold off a few more weeks, I'm going to try and post more frequently.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If in doubt, try Vermox Plus

Even after nearly three years here, our intestines are still very welcome hosts to a number of guests. Sometimes these parasites make a fast exit, but sometimes they stick around and prey on everything you eat. For up to years if you don't seek treatment.

Earlier this year, Nick was having a very hard time getting rid of some parasites, and he decided to pay his first visit to the gastrointestinal doctor. After diagnosing Nick with a case of the amoebas, he prescribed a common amoeba and worm med called Vermox Plus. One dose of two pills, and voilá, he was cured!

After hearing about some friends who take a course of Vermox every six months to purge themselves of any unwanted parasites, we thought it wasn't such a bad idea to do the same ($5 USD is a small price to pay compared to having to visit the GI doc every time you've got problems. And there are LOTS of problems.) In fact, Nick's parents said that when they were growing up in India, they would take a spoonful of castor oil every six months to flush out their intestinal tracts. I like the idea of natural castor oil, but be ready to take a day off of work!

Obviously, Vermox doesn't cure all our stomach ailments, but I have to say that it has been pretty life-changing :). And with the hot weather and sub-par food storage practices, just imagine the kind of feast amoebas and worms are enjoying these days...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pregnancy myths debunked during babymoon

While we were away in Europe, I consulted several locals on the advice I'd been given about what not to do during pregnancy. Specifically, do the Dutch ride bikes while pregnant? Do pregnant women in France eat soft cheeses and drink red wine? Do Belgian pregnant women abstain from all the delicious beer? I wanted to be adventurous as was safely possible and have a gastronomically good time, so I thought it would be wise to hear what the locals had to say on these matters.

#1 Do the Dutch ride bikes while pregnant?
Yes. One of the very charming things about the Dutch is that they LOVE their bikes. If you look around, you will find that the Netherlands and the Flemish regions of Belgium are some of the most bike-friendly place in the world. There are well-paved and well-marked bike lines not just in the city but all over the countryside, as well. But there's not a fear of falling? Who was I to ask in a city with the most wretched sidewalks in all the world?

So, asking whether Dutch pregnant women ride bikes is like asking Mexican pregnant women if they eat corn tortillas. It's a way of life! And what to do about your little tots? Attach a big wooden crate to the front of your bike, and it becomes the family vehicle.

#2 Do pregnant women in France eat soft cheeses and drink red wine?
Depends. Cheese that has been pasteurized is okay, and red wine is definitely okay in moderation. One night, we were presented with a plate of cheeses, one of which was an unpasteurized Roquefort, and I did not partake even though everyone at the table raved about it. I'm not usually one to heed pregnancy advice, but I also didn't want to be that girl who gave her baby some weird bacteria just because mama couldn't resist a little Roquefort. Another time.

#3 Do Belgian pregnant women abstain from all the delicious beer?
No. In fact, our B&B host in Brugge said that during her stay in the hospital (an astounding 5 days!) she was given a trappist dark brew to facilitate lactation. That's how seriously Belgians believe in their beer. We became such fans of Belgian beer that we were willing to haul two (very heavy) six-packs of Westvleteren trappist beer back home.

Westvleteren is considered the most secretive trappist brewery of the six in Belgium, and the only one where the monks are still involved in the day-to-day making of their beer, making it a special and prized drink if you can get your hands on one. It is considered Beer Advocate's #1 in all the world, and our baby will be one of the lucky ones to have a taste when he/she arrives!

The blond (8%) was good, but the dark (10%+) is the real deal.
Wonder why the monks prefer such alcohol-laden brews?!?

We had such a fantastic time on our vacation, and whoever thought of a babymoon is genius. It was perfectly relaxing, memorable, and delicious. The chocolate, wine, beer, ice cream, waffles, fries, and pastries were divine (the heartburn afterward, not so much).

We planned our trip around the tulip season in the Netherlands, but so did everyone else in the world. It was madness.

Walking around Brugge is like being on the set of a medieval movie set


The Dutch love their bikes, and the French love their snails

It's only appropriate to stay at a farmhouse B&B set in the rolling hills of France