I’m so happy to announce that we were blessed with a healthy baby boy a week ago. Everything went well with the labor this time around, thank God we were able to avoid another awful birthing experience in Saudi Arabia. We were lucky and blessed to have a beautiful, all-natural birth with a midwife. Something which would be a given in my home country Finland, where most hospital births are handled by our highly educated and trusted midwives (Finland has one of the lowest maternal death rates in the world) as opposed to the greedy, cesarean section-pushing obstetrician which are the norm in Saudi Arabia, and all over the Middle East. I must say I could not have succeeded in having a VBAC without the support and presence of my husband, my own certified labor coach (for real!). It was the most amazing experience of our lives. We are so proud of our little peanut, his birth weight was 4 kg and he was 53 cm long.
The hospital we went to is a large private hospital in the center of Riyadh. The reason we went there was actually to be able to have the labor with a western midwife who works there as a Head Nurse, as opposed to a doctor which we would be forced to have in any other hospital. My first delivery in another large private hospital in Riyadh ended up being one of the worst experiences of my life. After 26 hours of labor we were pushed and bullied into having a C-section. So we were really hopeful to have a VBAC this time, our midwife was very supportive and encouraging, saying we had a 80-90% chance of succeeding.
I had been told by all the doctors I had seen (there were over 15 in different hospitals all over Riyadh which I went to in search for a pro-natural pro-VBAC physicians) for the entire nine months, that this would be practically impossible. These physicians only discouraged me and pushed me for another c-section. Some told me I was crazy, or stupid to even think of trying to have a natural delivery after a cesarean. They said my uterus would rupture and the baby (and maybe even myself) would DIE. Listening to this same crap for months literally had me feeling hopeless and with little trust in my abilities to birth “normally”. I had lost most of my hope to actually succeed in avoiding another c-section, and in most likelihood would have ended up having another “emergency cesarean” if it weren’t for my awesome husband. Side note, we took birthing classes for 12 weeks when we were expecting our first-born, check out AMANI birth if you’re interested in childbirth classes in KSA. I highly recommend them.
All this laboring business has somehow become about making the delivery most convenient for the mothers (although I still don’t see how major abdominal surgery would be convenient for anyone). Nothing about child-birth seems to be natural anymore, it’s all about getting the baby out as “easy” as possible with least damage down there to the woman and then after the birth going overboard and showing off. Many Saudi women are so concerned that their husbands would take a second wife if they get damaged from childbirth and this is even openly discussed among women here which came as a surprise to me.
I was shocked how the hospital was offering all sorts of “vanity” services to mothers who have just delivered, as if the baby itself is secondary importance. Most important thing here seems to be looks. The hospital catalog was more like a five star hotel directory. The services on offer tell a lot about the priorities of women giving birth nowadays.
Where are the most important service for new mothers; breast feeding support and lactation consultants? How about nutritional advice and exercise support? What about informing mothers of post partum depression symptoms and how to get help? Which of these services actually support bonding of a healthy mother and a baby?
The sad truth is breast-feeding is not at all encouraged and all newborns will be offered formula from day one, unless the parents specifically refuse it. Even if parents specifically refuse formula feeding, the baby is still at high risk to be fed formula while the parents are not watching. The nurses will secretly give it in the nursery just to keep the babies quiet, or because doctors ordered it for “low blood sugar levels”. We always kept our babies in our room at all times and watched them if they were in the nursery for doctor check-ups. There is no respect for parents wishes in most Saudi hospitals, sadly.
What normally happens here is infants will spend most of their time in the nursery, where nurses change diapers and give formula feeds, then bring the tightly swaddled babies to the rooms for viewing.
We were actually told by the pediatrician that our baby was in fact starving and NEEDED formula. Unbelievable. How did the human race survive without these genius doctors, I wonder? We of course refused and they got even more upset. For the record our baby has gained 200 grams in just six days on breast milk only, despite the fact that infants normally LOSE weight for the first two weeks.
Only in Saudi? In-room maids and private nurses so that mothers don’t have to “lift a finger”.
I’m all for women being able to look and feel beautiful after delivery! It surely makes us feel better after all those 9 months of feeling bloated and what else..But maybe this is going a bit overboard. It’s not Oscar night, it’s a special time with your baby.
And after they are done entertaining the guests for a good 4-6 days..How to get all this stuff out of the hospital?? Answer: Hire a TRUCK.
My husband had ordered these balloons for me and the baby, I thought it was so sweet of him, even though I told him to please not waste money on it. I know in Finland people would probably laugh their butts off if they saw someone bring all these balloons to the hospital, but in Saudi these are actually really modest!
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Hello there, I’m Laura, the founder, author and manager of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 69 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia! Having visited all corners of the Kingdom with over a decade of experience, I have a vast knowledge base about travel and tourism in Saudi Arabia.