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Interview 30

Age at interview: 37
Brief Outline: Normal first pregnancy. Found antenatal classes useful, but felt a women-only class might be useful for South Asian women. Chose to have an epidural for the birth.
Background: Children' 1, aged 8 months at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- mental health worker, Father- driving instructor. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' British, Pakistani origin. Read by an actor.

More about me...

 

Even though her pregnancy was planned, she felt upset at first. Friends reassured her feelings...

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Well, when I found out I was pregnant I was, I sort of had an idea, and I was in a dilemma in a sense that I was, I was, thirty-six when I was pregnant so, I wasn't sure whether I wanted the baby or I didn't want the baby, but I knew that I should have the baby. So there's all, all that sort of thing. But when I found out that I was, I was quite upset. I got upset about it and I don't know why I, I was - and then I got upset because I was upset, why I got upset about it. I couldn't understand why I got upset about it. And I think, and then my husband, he just laughed because he thought it was just funny. He was going, “Oh you're being daft now. There's nothing wrong with being pregnant.” And then I didn't really want to talk to my family as they're sort of in Manchester and I didn't want to really say anything to them. So I did speak to a friend here, who was sort of, I don't think she really understood me, and then when I spoke to her about it she sort of made me feel that I should be grateful, and that made me feel even worse. And then I spoke to a couple of friends from work they were more or less the same age as me, and they were saying, “Oh, with the second one I've, we felt exactly the same, and here's how you're feeling. It'll all be normal, don't worry about it, and go and read magazines” and that. And upon reading the magazines I felt, “Oh it's just, can, this is a normal reaction.” And then when I got used to it I was really sort of all excited and all protective of my stomach, [laughs] even though there wasn't anything there yet.

So when you say you felt you should, you should have a baby, what did you mean, and why did you feel you should have the baby?

Because it's like something a part of me and my husband, and then our religion as well, you know, our having children. And, you know, like it's something I've got to, really, I think. You know, I want - what, what it would be like to be a mother and to be pregnant and to have a child.

Mmm, so you kind of think of it as part of being a woman?

I think that was stronger, but I tried to hide the fact. “But I don't want any children, I'm fine, duh-duh-duh.” But that was sort of really deep inside, and that I really that I did want to know what it felt like.

Can you say a bit more about the religious side of it, what does the religion say?

The religion says that we should have children and as, I mean sort of have as many as you sort of can and not to worry about the financial side of it, because God provides, and all that. So it was about that bit as well and it, it is a wonderful feeling having a baby and I could understand why, why to have children as well.

 

She asked the midwife for advice on diet, to help her assess traditional advice from her family....

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And did you get any kind of advice or any support from family? I mean, you've mentioned your friends, but any family members who were particularly supportive?

Yeah, my sisters, and my Mum, yeah. Because my sisters are, they've all got like three kids each and they're forever ringing me with advice, because obviously, “Don't eat this, don't do this, don't go for.” And Mum would say, “Don't go for long walks now, and don't do this, don't pick this, don't carry this.” 

What kind of things were they saying? Don't eat what?

Eggs.

Right.

You know like warm, we call them warm things, and so it's like

Hot foods.

Eggs and hot foods

Yeah, yeah.

And things like that, not to eat that. But having said that, I know some of it is just like old wives' tales, “You can't eat this, you can't eat that”, so I did get some information from the midwife as well, on what to do.

And what was the difference between what the midwife was saying and what your family was saying?

Well, she was saying more like mayonnaise and not anything with raw egg in it.

Right.

So if I say, “Well, can I have whatever mayonnaise?” She goes, “Well, you can, because that's powdered egg, but you can't have that one.” So it's more, I suppose to explain more in detail the information about what you can and can't eat. And then again I just got it from magazines as well.

Mmm, I suppose the midwife was talking about kind of salmonella and things like that?

Yeah, yeah.

Whereas the hot foods, can you say a bit more about what the thinking is behind that?

No [Laughs] I can't really. You know, it's something like that you've just sort of grown, [laughs] grown up with. Yeah, so I just, I really don't even know that much at all. It's just they said, “Don't eat warm food.” And I go, “Okay.” So that's your eggs.

Eggs?

Eggs, and honestly I can't even remember because it just went over the top of my head and I was just going, “Okay.”

So it's warm, warm foods?

Foods.

Yeah, the idea is that they have a warm effect on your body. Or they heat up your body, so it's a different kind of way of...

Yeah.

...thinking about it, but [laughs].

That's all I know, and I was just going, “Okay.”

[Laughs] And did you ignore that advice then?

Well no, because I don't really eat eggs anyway, so [laughs] I wasn't really, I wasn't really bothered, actually. So, because I think when I found out I was about, I was one and a half, coming on to two months, so I'd eaten whatever I wanted to eat anyway by that time, so I just didn't sort of realise. But I was careful about what I wasn't supposed to eat, but

 

She and her husband enjoyed NHS antenatal classes, although at times they felt uncomfortable. A...

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I think what was helpful, they would tell you each week what, what subject they're going to cover, and I think if you didn't find it useful, then you ring and say that you don't want to come in or you won't be able to come in. That was useful. And in general I thought it was fine, we had a laugh, you know, and it's, you know, we were well catered for with teas, coffees, drinks, biscuits. And we had, everyone seemed to get on well and the midwives who were doing it had a brilliant sense of humour, so that sort of helped along with things as well. And they would test the partners [laughs] on, on the baby stuff as well, to see how much they know. And the best bit was when they got all the men together and they had to put in order of what happens when a, a woman starts her contractions and they had to put it all together. We couldn't do it because we'd been told that we read magazines so we would probably know already. And they had, they got it, and they got it the wrong way around then that was quite, it was quite good fun. I think my husband enjoyed those classes as well because he learnt quite a bit. But we both were quite, a bit, “Ooh, don't know whether to go or not.” But I did learn, and I am glad that I went.

What was the thing that you were worried about whether or not to go?

I don't know, actually. I thought that this is like, that - oh, you sit there and then they're, your breathing, they tell you how to breathe - you know, all those things that you see off the TV? And it's nothing like that whatsoever. In fact we didn't get big floor cushions. We got hard chairs to sit on [laughs] so it was none of that.

Right.

It was all like information.

Right. Why wouldn't you have liked to do like breathing exercises?

I think - well, I didn't find them useful anyway. So it didn't really help me in any sense. I, I don't know. It's just not my sort of thing. I'd rather have hands-on information that's going to be useful, rather than relaxing techniques I can sort of do by myself, I think.

How did you feel about the fact that it was mixed, you know, that you had men and women there? Obviously, your husband was there, but how did you feel about having other men there as well?

I found it embarrassing, when they were talking about the birth and then they were showing you - can I say the word vagina? Yeah, and they're showing, and they're showing things like models of that. I found that quite embarrassing, actually, I think, and so did my husband at first, but once that bit was over and done with and we got the actual information, then we were okay with that. Because I think we sort of, we both thought if it were going to carry on like that we might not keep, might not go…

Right, yeah.

…because we just found it embarrassing and uncomfortable really.

Right.

But then that bit was out the way, and they were doing the nitty-gritty and explaining the things, that, we were okay with that.

Would you have preferred a women-only class or did you, did you want it to be so that your husband could come as well?

I think it would have been nice to have just a women's only as well, for choice, as well. And then you can sit, and then just talk to other women about your experiences, as well. I'm sure there prob

 

Her mother gave her some useful advice, but she also relied on information from parenting classes...

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And what other information did you get from the parenting classes that, what was the most helpful thing?

What was quite useful is about - I know this might sound basic - but just about washing your baby and not to use too much of the soaps and the lotions. And, and I don't - like, because my Mum's like, when I went to stay with my Mum, she was like, you know, putting baby lotion on, "The skin's dry on your baby" and that. And it's best, from what I understood from the classes to leave, leave the skin alone, not put any lotion on it, because it can make it worse. It, I think they were saying that some children get eczema or something from that as well. And that all worked, because her skin I found was fine, I didn't put anything on it and she was fine with that. So that was quite helpful, otherwise I would have been putting loads of lotion on this baby and loads of soap and, and it would have ruined - or maybe just irritated her skin.

Mmm. So sometimes what your family were saying, like your Mum in particular, was going against what you were hearing in the classes?

Yeah.

It looks like you were leaning more towards the kind of...

Yeah, because it sort of made sense in the, in the sense that what they were saying is what exactly is in that lotion, really? And it's not the purest of the pure that you can put on your baby. Water's more pure, isn't it? And just a little drop of whatever in it is sufficient. And when I was washing my baby and that, I found it does work. It did help her skin. If it didn't, then I would be saying, “Well actually, it doesn't work." But my Mum did give me some useful information as well, because the baby had really sort of dry scalp on top, and she said, “Put Vaseline on, leave it for a bit, and then get a comb and comb it out, and then wash her hair. That way the scalp bits will come off”, and that worked. So that was like useful for me from my Mum as well. So I think it's just thinking for yourself, as well, what you think might be useful.

And using your experience to decide.

Yeah. Right [laughs].

 

She was less interested in sex during pregnancy, but it was important to find other ways of...

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I mean the physical side of things changes, doesn't it? Was that something that concerned you at all or were you both?

No, I think it was more because my husband wanted me and [laughs] I wasn't bothered [laughs]. 

[Laughs] And how did he cope with that then?

He understands, you know, he knows and he understands. And I think what I'd say, as long as you, you have hugs and cuddles and you're nice to each other and, you know, share time with each other and you are loving with each other, then that's more important in that sense, so as long as he gets, you know, as long as you get your cuddles and that, then we're fine.

 

The demands of caring for a small baby make them really tired, but they try to find time to go...

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Some women say that their relationship with their husband sort of emotionally and physically changes after they've had a baby. Would you say that was true?

It is true. I think you just get, you're just too tired, you know. Sometimes you just get too tired, especially if she's not sleeping through the night. And she's going through this funny stage at the moment where she's just waking up, sleeping, waking up and won't sleep unless she sleeps in our bed, and then, you know, you have to take her out and put her back in her own bed, and then she wakes, wakes up again, so she's going through a really funny stage at the moment. So it is just - and then with the fasting during Ramadan as well now, so we're both, we're just tired. And it's just, “Yeah, okay, what do you want to eat?” “Okay that's fine.” Deh-deh-deh. And it's just like that. It's quite worrying [laughs]. But we do like, on a Sunday he doesn't work, and so we do try and make an effort on a Sunday to go out to together and we take the baby with us. Okay, to take her, take her with us, or we might just go to town or just go somewhere and go for a coffee, so we tend to make an effort of doing that on a Sunday.

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