Oh how beautiful are Allah’s creations. It is truly amazing how your body is capable of growing a tiny human being and is able to withstand the tremendous amount of pain when giving birth, then springs back into shape and repeat. Having just been through it with my first child, I now truly understand how strong mothers can be and how unconditional their love is for their children; you literally are at the verge of dying from the unbearable pain of giving birth, but one look at your newborn, all is well and you say to yourself, “it was all worth it…I would do it all over again.”
That’s all nice, but reality kicks in soon after when you suddenly realise you have another person to take care of, and I am here to share with you my first ever taste of motherhood at Brunei’s RIPAS Hospital.
Hope you ladies have a good read!
I WAS NOT PREPARED ENOUGH
For a while, I thought I had everything ready for baby; her clothes and things, her cot, our hospital bags, my postnatal treatments after birth, I even had a spreadsheet especially for baby detailing everything, from lists of things I would need to transactional records to keep track of my spending for baby. However, it never crossed my mind to be ready for the first few days of her life (and of motherhood for me) at the hospital.
What happened to the spreadsheet, you ask? Well, it’s all over the place now…I guess you can’t really help yourself when you have a little baby girl to dress up 😀
VISITING HOUR WOES O’ MINE
With the new visiting hour restrictions practiced at the new RIPAS block for the women and children’s wards (something I wished I have known earlier), you will spend most of the first few days taking care of a fragile being by yourself with little help from others. Visiting hours are limited to an hour or so at noon, and two hours in the evening, and you would find security officers patrolling around the wards for any sneaky ones who stayed past the allocated hours. This meant that you have limited contact with your husband and family during your stay at the hospital’s common postnatal ward, who you would want and reckon to help you with your newborn. Instead, you are left with baby surrounded by other new and/or experienced mothers in the ward who would rather mind their own businesses (expectedly), with occasional visits by the nurses and doctors.
I was taken aback by the sudden realisation of having to spend my first night with baby without Hubs (or anyone, really), and being a first-time mother, I feared the worst. So much so that I panicked when my little girl had a bout of hiccups that I called the nurses via the emergency button by the bed! It is funny to think of it now, but back then, I was really in a state of distress and exhaustion that I spent most of the first night (and the next day) awake and staring at baby.
NO, YOU CAN’T BOOK THE FIRST CLASS WARDS IN ADVANCE
This is one piece of information that is hard to find literally anywhere on the internet, other than calling the hospital line (but, we all are shy introverts who would rather google things than talking to someone over the phone).
I was told by a few people that you can book the first class wards in advance. Being the clueless person that I am, I unwittingly mistook these sought-after rooms to be similar like hotel rooms (you know, you book them in advance and pay early to secure it). Oh, how wrong I was!
You can only book your place when in the labour room after you’ve given birth; the nurses will ask if you would like to stay at the first class ward, which basically is a private en-suite room away from all the noise and crowd. You would then be put in the waiting list (which is, again, something I wish I knew earlier) and hope that a room opens up while you’re still at the hospital.
The en-suite costs BND$75 per night, and a family member is allowed to be your caretaker during your stay. You will also have the pleasure of selecting your meals everyday (a choice between western and local), although I didn’t get the chance to during my 2-nights stay. For BND$150 per night, you can choose a better en-suite with a separate living room and have two caretakers to accompany you, but chances of getting the room are even slimmer.
Thank goodness I only get to spend the first night alone. Before the second day was out, this very kind nurse (I wish I knew what her name was!) managed to get me a first-class room and I couldn’t be happier. I assumed she noticed my distress (and the fact that the common ward was noisy with strangers constantly peeping into your curtained area) and did what she could to get me comfortable post-pregnancy.
My review of the first-class room? It was peacefully quiet, comfortable, clean and best of all; it was private. Coughing up BND$75 a night for this room was the best decision to make. You with your exhausted body and soul need the peace and quiet of the first-class rooms, to help your transition into motherhood a more relaxing experience so you can focus on yourself and baby, rather than waste energy dwelling over other unimportant things.
FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL WOMEN STAFF
Much to my surprise, from the start of my labour until I was discharged from the hospital, not once have I encountered with a rude staff. They were all especially kind and helpful despite my silly questions and overall annoyance. I admire their treatment towards patients, especially the nurses who are on-hand in case of emergencies. As a first-time mother who had no clue about mothering, they gladly assisted me without hesitation, like how to bathe baby, how to put on her clothes, how to breastfeed and burp her. Although these may seem trivial to an experienced matron, these are valuable lessons to learn for a new mother; something you can never learn from Youtube or Google. Till this day, I still remember what they taught me and the things they have done to make my early post-pregnancy days stress-free, and I am so grateful to have been given special treatment during my stay.
The best part was actually having the nice staff bathe baby every morning while staying at first-class! Newborns are fragile and I wasn’t ready to be left with baby near water (beuri as they say). The staff would go over the steps with you as you watch her bathe baby, and it was a great opportunity to ask about things that I was doubtful of.
O BREASTMILK BREASTMILK, WHEREFORE ARE THOU BREASTMILK?
This deserves its own post, in my opinion. Newborns initially only take in a bit of milk, or colostrum, that is produced by the mother at birth. This has everything the baby needs for the first few days, before the mother’s breastmilk supply kicks in and she produces more creamier milk. Alas, it isn’t so simple in reality. It varies in different mothers; some may have no problem producing breastmilk in large quantities, but some may have a hard time establishing a supply.
I had a bit of difficulty with regards to my milk supply in the early days, and was even reduced to tears in the middle of the night when baby wailed hungrily begging for milk that I couldn’t provide her. My scarce milk supply resulted in baby having yellow skin nearing Jaundice, which again didn’t help with my post-pregnancy anxiety. Indeed, establishing a milk supply is such a sensitive subject for some first-time moms, one cannot help but to be a bit defensive when people try to ‘help’ by offering (at the verge of insisting) to breastfeed your newborn…Alhamdulillah, all is well now and baby is getting plumper and fairer by the day.
If you’re on the same boat as me, don’t worry about your low milk supply during the first few weeks. It will kick in once you keep breastfeeding your baby and InsyaAllah, your baby will be adequately nourished.
Hope this post can be of help to you! I will share tips for establishing and increasing your milk supply in the future, so look out for that!