Friday, 8 April 2011

Finding a Midwife in Berlin

Coming from the UK, I always assumed that your midwife would be appointed by your chosen hospital. In Germany there are broadly speaking two different types of midwifes, or Hebammen. Firstly there are those midwives who are stationed at the hospital or birthing centre (Gerburtshaus) Beleghebamme and they will guide you through the birth process at your chosen hospital or clinic.

Then there are those midwives Hebamme who are with you throughout your pregnancy and birth (whether at home, in the birthing centre, or hospital) and also provide postpartum care. The midwife is also there is guide you through your birthing options and to discuss any decisions you are making regarding the birth. It is however your birth and your body so don't underestimate how intimate this journey is - you need to feel comfortable with the decisions you are making at all times.

The Hebamme will come to your home for regular prenatal check ups – they can essentially do all the regular checks that your gynecologist (Frauenartzt) can do, with the exception of scans.

They will be at your birth where/however you decide to do it and can come to your home as often as you like for up to eight weeks after the birth, and act as a Doula (usually, Doulas are non-medical, non-midwifes who are trained to help you after the birth).
Your midwife is there to ask questions about your birth and to help with with your individual birthing plan. Remember the plan must be your choice, you must feel comfortable being with the care you are receiving.

Your health insurance should cover the basic costs of the midwife and you then pay an extra €300 for their services.

I found a wonderful Hebamme called Magdalena Saß after searching for English-speaking midwives who work in the Wedding district, using the Hebammen Berlin website.

The website list a wide midwives from all over Berlin and each has their own speacialities and many different languages are spoken. Asking friends advice is another way of finding someone suitable. At my last visit to the Frauenartz I was given a pamplet which listed the same info as the websites.
I liked Magdalena’s profile as she speaks English and specialises in natural care, but understands the need for medical intervention when necessary.

Currently I see both my Frauenartzt Isobel and midwife Magdalena once a month, which means the baby is checked every two weeks – which iswonderful. I enjoy the differences between the two women. Isobel has the medical role and gives me advice on how to stay healthy and with her we have regular scans to see how the baby is progressing. As Magdalena comes to our home I find myself more relaxed and asking lots of questions about the baby and birth and can pick her brains to draw upon her wealth of knowledge and experience.

Once you have found someone that works in your area, here are some questions to conisder asking:

How long has she been a midwife?
How many births has she attended?
How many other women does she have that are due around the same time?
What are the services she provides?
What is her approach to births? (natural, intervention)
What is her approach to breast-feeding?
Which hospitals or Gerburthaus does she recommend?

I have loved having a midwife, she has been really supportive to me over the last few weeks and has the warmth and kindness that I don't expect from my doctor (although i like her too). I trust my midwife and listen to her advice, which at the moment consists of relaxing, not reading too many books on births and listening to your body. I hope that you too find someone you are happy with. 

Key words
Geburtsvorbereitung – Birth preparation 
Vorsorge und Nachsorge – Prevention and Care 
Stillberatung – Breastfeeding counciling 
Rückbildungsgymnastik –Postnatal exercises 
Akupunktur und Homöopathie - Acupuncture and Homeopathy

Other useful websites

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

First Trimester – the Lowdown

The past three months have been hard. Hard for so many reasons, and made harder still by the fact that I thought I was supposed to be ecstatically happy; instead I just felt nauseous, tired and was super-moody and in constant fear of miscarrying.

From December 15 to February 8, my poor husband had to cajole me into life every morning in order to get me to my desk and do some work. My routine consisted of waking up at 10(ish), working till lunch and then taking a nap from 1.00pm until 3.00pm. Then it was reading from 3.00pm till 6.00pm, and another nap. After waking up for dinner, and then back to bed to watch Come Dine with Me, I fell asleep, only to start the routine again the next morning.

I know I was lucky as a) I work from home so didn’t have to do this in front of anyone at an office, and b) I was only sick a few times when I ate really strong-flavoured foods, but I became a different, totally unmotivated person who I didn’t recognise.

Christmas was the start of the low period, which was a shame as we had so many good friends around to share the festivities with. Our friend O came from London and spent the whole of Christmas with us. New friends S and T hosted Christmas Day at their apartment and we had a delicious German Christmas Eve dinner for 10 at our home the previous night. It was really magical despite my zero alcohol consumption.

Leading up to Christmas many friends hosted drinks parties, and as a bookseller I am known for my love of red wine. Some people guessed there was no vodka in my orange juice but most were discrete about this.

New Year's Eve was a fantastic evening, but a real test of my strength to resist my favourite foods (and drink). We invited seven people, including E and A from London, to indulge in a gluttonous feast — a backwards dinner, including wine matching:

Cheese board with a selection from Neal’s Yard, port
Poached pears and ricotta cake
Pork fillet with mustard crust and borlotti beans
Squid ink risotto with baby octopus
Field salad with potato-infused dressing and fried duck strips
Champagne and canapés:
Tomato sorbet shots with mint
Avocado and tomato canapés
Mini-brioches with truffle

The evening was a great success and I even coped with cranberry juice to drink. At the stroke of midnight the sky lit up with a dramatic fireworks display provided by the Wedding locals. Somewhat reminiscent of an evening in a war zone, the erratic display was nonetheless great fun to watch.

Once the celebrations were over I went back to my normal routine of eating plain foods and sleeping. Although I couldn’t feel our baby, I had to console myself with the thoughts that my body was adjusting to having two hearts, an extra set of lungs, two brains, and more kidneys and livers than it knew what to do with. Now it seems my body is getting used to having the baby, and as the foetus seems to have comfortably embedded itself in my womb, my mood changed, my energy levels rose, I am smiling a lot more, and looking forward to my bump getting bigger and watching our child develop. Yesterday we had the monthly scan just to check the heartbeat, and we saw the baby jumping around in the womb and waving its arms. Amazing! We have created a life and I am so excited to see it develop within a world of its own.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mixing it Up

Last night I went for a meal with friends at my favourite Berlin restaurant, Rosa Caleta.
At the table were five fantastic women — including the Wednesday chef and Berlin Reified. Everyone had wanted to go to RC for a while, having heard about its wonderful Jamaican-European fusion cuisine.

As a regular at the restaurant, my friends individually asked me what was good on the menu. I opted for my favourite — the Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken, with rice and peas, boiled dumpling and vegetables. Until our food came, I had not realised that I had convinced nearly everyone to have the same thing!
                                    Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken

Normally when I eat Jamaican, the dish I go for is Curry Goat, but as RC have their own twist on these dishes the Fiery Guava-Jerk Chicken is a must — especially as I cannot find it anywhere else. Last night it was delicious. Textured, spicy, and fruity (without being sweet)… yum. For those of you that love spicy food with a flavoured-bite, this is the place, and this is your dish — all the ladies heartily agreed.

As a huge foodie, my biggest surprise during my pregnancy is the early cravings for simple British foods: fish fingers, mashed potato and baked beans; cottage pie; bacon and egg sandwiches; baked potatoes with cheese and beans. All have been regular fixtures on my evening menu. Recently I have been getting into soups — but only clear broths such as Caribbean chicken soup, Asian noodle soup, Italian vegetable soup and my husband’s minestrone. So last night was an experiment in spice for my currently challenged palate, and the hot and elegant flavours passed the test. 

All my grandparents are Jamaican and my parents are from London, so when the illuminating owner/manager Kirk was telling our table about the co-owner/chef Troy’s brilliant Ackee Quiche (again, a RC first and my craving last summer) it hit home to me the relevance and importance of the fusion between European and Caribbean culture. At one point I said, ‘I think I love it here because it is a celebration of my cultures on a plate.'

Back home I went online and started reading the Guardian and came across an article on a new Cbeebies children's television series called Rastamouse. I had seen smatterings of comments on Facebook but had yet to see the show.  The article asked if the rodent show was an offensive stereotyping or a culturally relevant kids show. I had never seen it so we youtubed it.

My first reaction is that it is cute and I love hearing the accents, and my second reaction was to be annoyed that so many people think it is 1) racist and 2) damaging to children’s speech (unlike Teletubbies?). But these characters are not pretending to be black people — they are moral mice with a patois accent! The other idea being banded around is that because the mice talk about cheese in a patois accent they are actually insinuating the selling of weed, which is ludicrous and verging on the offensive.

The BBC has a tough battle ahead — generally, when it comes to ethnic representation they are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. When I was growing up there were hardly any positive representations of black people on TV, apart from Desmond’s, so when I look at Rastamouse I think: Great! When our child is old enough they will be able to watch a television show with some characters whose voices are not too dissimilar to those of their Jamaican great-grandparents. I say Irie! Whatdoyouthink?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I am not usually a sentimental person but I do love to spead the love. This year a few messages of love were sent to my nearest and dearest  and tonight I am looking forward to shaking my hips at Soho House. 

I saw these beautifully simple pictures from Nerd Valentine on one of my favourite blogs Cup of Jo and had to share...

How ever you choose to spend this Valentine's Day enjoy today xxS

Two Red Lines

17 December 2011 - pre blog post 
It's been four days since I saw the two stripes appear on the white stick.
Four days since I realised I had know idea what to feel or what to think or that no amount of thinking that having a baby is what I wanted would prepare me for that moment when the first line appeared in the first window of the pregnancy test.

Of course I had done tests before. Before the life changing test I had done a test a week before which was negative and left me with a feeling of grave disappointment and confusion - if I am not pregnant, why do I feel so PMT with no period?
The date of my very regular period came and went and after a day of book consultation at the ICI library forgetting my confusion I went for some food at Yumcha Heros in Mitte. Dim sum, soup, noodles, pak choi, wholesome Asian goodness.  

Food digested, I'd planned to head home to write with a detour to the BIO laden  (organic shop) to get some much needed coffee supplies for the evening ahead. Suddenly, I started feeling as though I was going to throw up, right there in the middle of the shop. Taking deep breaths whilst paying for my coffee and sour cream hand cooked crisps (a noted find in a city that does not seem to appreciate the need for that fine potato snack) I managed to leave the shop and stumble through the ice to the Apotheke. Of course being Mitte there is always someone you know lurking around a corner one of our lovely customers was in there. What do you say? The truth is far to intimate and awkward so stocking up on vitamins for the winter (something I've never done) seemed to be a good reason to be there.

Fast forward. I am home alone. There are two red stripes beaming at me from the white stick. We are going to have a baby! Sitting on the sofa trying to call me husband who is away for the first time since we have been married. This becomes a tricky situation. Who do you call? This is GOOD news and there needs to be an order in which you inform your nearest and dearest of your news.  The other thing was that I didn't want to be alone, so I called Z, our dear friend in Berlin and told her the news first and asked her to come and have a girly night in with baked potatoes and share in my exciting discovery. In the mean time I shared the news with my called my grandma, my aunt and finally got through to my husband... 'Baby! We're having a baby!!'