Sunday, September 9, 2012

Our birth story (the short version)

Wed. Aug. 22nd our little boy arrived, his name is River (named after the Mekong River..) 

Although most of my expat friends thought I was crazy, I had a natural non-medicated birth in a Lao hospital. But Lao hospitals, perhaps because the lack the resources of the hospitals in the West are actually very accommodating to birthing mothers. I love my doctor :) My labor was 11 hours, most of it walking and standing, squatting letting gravity do it's thing. Meditations and visualizations helped more than I can say with working through the pain. Only during the actual delivery did I lay down. I also was able to have both my husband and my doula in the room with me and La was able to help "catch" River.

Since I was one of the first foreigners to have a baby at this hospital, soon afterward River was celebrity with the nurses and their cameras. :D I must admit, language was the biggest challenge. I'm not 100% sure I'd give birth in a hospital again where I can't freely communicate. (Being fluent in a language is one thing, but hospital speak is it's own language.)

After River was born we stayed in the hospital 1 night then came home to grandma and her postpartum care. (Hot herbal baths and Herbal teas.) Originally I was going to also observe the 2 week tradition of laying near the fire (literally) but for me personally, I wanted to be the one taking care of my baby at all times. Also, to be honest, I wasn't fond of the idea of sleeping in my outdoor Lao kitchen, the same place we found a cobra 2 months ago. :/ If I could have been indoors, then maybe. 
This photo is making the traditional herbal bathwater. Mom's bath for at least 15 days with this. (no soap, no rinsing.) We also drink medicinal teas to help promote milk flow during that time. No cold drinks allowed. There are also food restrictions, but these vary according to province. Khamla bought be special free range chicken from the neighbors that I ate with ginger and sticky rice. I did however consume some "falang" (western food) during this time.. after all this girl needs a pizza now and then. ; ) 


  1. There was a strict "Hot Drinks Only" when my mom stayed with me for 1 1/2 weeks after Humnoy was born. I was so engorged! I had milk overfloweth up until my cycle came at 10 months post partum!

    Welcome, River. I wish I knew what Lao people say to best welcome a baby but I'm so lacking in positive salutations ;)

    1. Positive Salutations? Commenting on my blog is a positive! I've heard more "ee mae het bo pen" (mom can't do) for a lifetime.... :))) Ahhh....

      MIL leaves next month. I actually really will miss her, even though at times I hide out in our bedroom for a moment of sanity. ;)

  2. Thanks so much for that awesome post! I am working on a birth-related project in southern Laos and came upon your story. I have read alot about traditional Lao birthing practices but to experience yourself -- wow! I esp love the Western additions like not sleeping with the cobras and eating pizzas! Cultural immersion only goes so far, right? I look forward to reading future posts. All the best with your little one! Kristyn

  3. Thanks Kristyn :) Would love to hear more about your project!

    Since my mother-in-law is living with us until mid-October, there are quite a few things I've learned about having a baby here. One of them is also to be strong now and then about what I believe and pick and choose what practices we observe. (Ex: Her: Letting your baby cry so that he can speak well = Me: NO! Her: Not using pampers so his little member is strong = Me: Ok, but your going to help with laundry please. ) 555.

  4. kelly bravo to you for doing all natural. i totally believe in the natural squatting and letting gravity work. just like native americans did also and in many other countries. i got epidurals with mine. one didn't work so well.but i was too scared to do all natural. the herbal teas sound wonderful. my mother in law made a drink "fresca avena" fresh squeezed oatmeal milk with sugar, vanilla and lime juice or orange.really helped the milk production.