I got to know that I was pregnant when I was in Germany. We consulted with a gynecologist there and were told that my pregnancy was perfectly normal. I was encouraged to be physically active and was given the impression that life could go on as usual. Since this was my first pregnancy and I had taken a break from work I thought it would be a good idea to continue the rest of my term in India. Within days of landing, I became a nervous wreck and was made to feel like my being pregnant was something pathological. Not only was I put on bed rest, but it was also made abundantly clear that my age, the fact that I had waited so long to conceive, my height, my weight everything was an issue. One week I was doing five flights of stairs every day and hiking with my friends and the next I was confined to my bed except for my daily meals. I knew that I could not continue the rest of my pregnancy like this. I had to go back to Germany or find another way to continue in India. That is exactly when I heard of Birth Village. The initial plan was just to attend yoga/dance classes and find a peer group of pregnant women with whom I could share my concerns. However, the growing realization that the difference between various medical establishments here was merely a matter of degree and not approach led me to book my first consultation with the midwives there. The consultation lasted a full hour and answered several of my concerns regarding my pregnancy. It was clear that my age, my reproductive decisions so far, my height, my weight had nothing to do with my ability to have a healthy pregnancy. My midwives never sugarcoated anything. It was clearly my responsibility to eat well, exercise, and maintain reasonable levels of stress. And I was totally okay with this. Lamaze classes helped me understand the changes my body would go undergo and how I could cope with them better. Their insistence on involving Sandeep allowed him to be an active participant and experience something that would not have been possible in a more conventional setup. Labor and birth I woke up at 4 in the morning with what is referred to in the pregnancy community as a bloody show. I went to BV and was told that I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. The baby’s head had not yet completely engaged but my midwife wisely refrained from telling me how far it really was. She just encouraged me to do lots of stairs and enjoy my day. We went up and down the stairs at Center Square Mall, grabbed our favorite fish curry meals at The Grand, and then headed down to lulu, where I did more stairs and finally settled down for a movie, Nivin Pauly’s Action Hero Biju, which was pretty decent by the way. My contractions had started early in the day but all the activity helped to keep me distracted. I clearly remember that once I got home, I could feel the contractions more intensely. I tried to get some sleep after watching another movie. But the contractions kept me awake for most of the night. I threw up several times and was up by 4 in the morning. At this point the contractions seemed to be 5 minutes apart and super intense. We timed a few just to be sure and made our call to our midwife. She then asked me if I would prefer to come down at this point. We headed towards BV around 6 AM. My midwives were there to greet us. At this point, I was 6 cm dilated and extremely exhausted. I had to sleep for a while through the contractions to regain some energy. My midwives gave me honey and I tried munching on dried fruits and drinking tender coconut water. At some point, we went to the pool where my water broke. However, the water relaxed me so well that I could actually snooze off.. I used the birthing stool and the rope to make my way through the rest of the labor. I remember feeling my baby’s head at some point and before I knew it I was holding Malavika in my arms. I kept cooing and babbling while Sandeep cut the cord and I birthed out the placenta in a couple of minutes. I was then checked for tears had a warm bath and spent the next few hours nesting with my new family. my labor lasted for over 32 hours and I could not believe it. The most powerful thing I took back from the experience was the knowledge that my body was capable of doing this!! Post-partum Blues It is true when they say that the labor is not the hard part, it is everything that happens after. As a new family even with the help and support of our parents it was difficult to figure things out amid all the hustle and bustle of well-meaning relatives and visitors. Malavika was not feeding continuously and we were concerned that she was not getting the nutrition that she required. The midwives visited us at home for the postnatal visit to see how we were doing and spent some time addressing our concerns and asking how we were managing. We were encouraged to go back to BV to work things out. This was a godsend. With my midwife’s guidance and support, we got every last drop of colostrum into Maalu and she was latching successfully at the end of the day. We are glad that we chose BV and the work that they do is really a blessing for all the women in Cochin, who are lucky enough to have access to it. I do not think that it is possible to thank them and the BV team enough for everything that they have done. Love Sonia and Sandeep Midwives note We have to honor this dad in this birth story as his first prenatal along with us were just probably around a few weeks before labor and as to how well he slipped into his role as a support person in labor and post is unparalleled. This mum on her courage and boldness for sticking it all the way despite both of them being researchers, how they eventually let go of their thinking hats and went with the flow…… Very very proud!! Congrats again guys!!

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