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Birth stories: International arrivals!

Ever wondered how maternity services in other countries compare with what happens in the UK? The final part in our latest series of birth stories.

Posted: 16 January 2008
by Becky Seery

Kirsten Taylor, 35, is originally from the UK but now lives in Bangkok, Thailand, with her husband Darren and children Thomas, two, and Patrick, 13 months. She tells us all about the Thai approach to maternity care

Birth facts
Baby's namePatrick James
Length of labour8 hours
Pain reliefEpidural
Worst bitHaving to spend time away from my first son because he was only 18 months at the time and he missed having me around!
Best bitSleeping afterwards without interruption.

Kirsten and family

Both my babies were born at private international hospitals. A lot of the maternity care is similar to the UK, but there can be some interesting cultural differences! The female doctor I saw during my second pregnancy, for example, told me I had gained too much weight in my third month and advised me to eliminate carbs and fats from my diet. I was shocked, and when I questioned her further she told me my husband wouldn’t like a fat wife!

I changed doctors after that, unsurprisingly, and I got on much better with the second doctor. She saw me each month to check on my progress. The only problem was that in the last few months she told me I wasn’t gaining enough weight and advised me to eat lots of eggs every day – and I don’t like eggs…

End of term
I’d worked until 37 weeks with my first pregnancy, because maternity leave here is so short. It was exhausting, and I gave birth just a week after starting leave. This time round, though, I stopped at 24 weeks, as I’m a teacher and it happened to be the end of term. Then the 36-week scan showed that my fluid levels were low – not dangerously so, but the doctor thought I should be induced at 38 weeks.

We arrived at the Bangkok Nursing Home around 10am, and it felt a bit like checking into a hotel. I had to fill in a form, which included ticking a box to say what sort of a birth I wanted. I ticked the “natural pain-free” box. After an examination the doctor confirmed I wasn’t dilating. I was given an oxytocin drip at 10:30am, and put into a labour room.

Walking it
I spent the next few hours watching TV, chatting to my husband and walking around the room, wheeling my little bag of oxytocin with me! After a few hours I finally started dilating, and when things started feeling uncomfortable I asked the doctor if I could have an epidural. She asked me how painful things were on a scale of one to 10. When I replied it was around a seven, she was horrified and immediately called the anaesthetist. Once I had the epidural I soon relaxed. I felt very much at ease because it was an all-female team, and my doctor held my hand when the contractions were bad.

Suddenly, it was time to push. I was put into stirrups for the last part of the delivery, which I didn’t mind, but friends who have had babies in the UK were quite surprised and felt this to be a rather Victorian way to give birth. The midwives were at my side and wailed with each push I gave – this is a way of offering support to a woman in labour.

Patrick was born at around 6.21pm, after about 10 minutes of pushing. I thought I was having a girl, so was surprised to have another boy, but delighted – I was happy that Thomas would have a brother to play with. I cried when I saw him, and was astonished at how chubby his cheeks were!

Recovery time
After the birth I was taken to my room and the nurses took Patrick to the nursery. I decided to take a shower, and sleep until they brought me Patrick for his feed. I was weak and a bit wobbly, but the room was fantastically equipped and the en-suite bathroom had loads of rails and a seat carved into the wall of the shower, so I was able to shower and put my pyjamas on. I called room service for a hot chocolate and settled down. The nurses then arrived equipped with towels to bath me. They were shocked that I had showered myself and couldn’t believe I was sitting up, let alone phoning for room service! I stayed for three nights, during which time I was able to rest and spend time with my toddler. We think we’re really lucky to have been able to get this standard of maternity care.

This story first appeared in the February 2008 issue of our magazine, Pregnancy, Baby and You.

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