Giving birth to our first child in Kathmandu, Nepal was something we had prayed long about. Coming from the U.K. I knew it would be such a different experience than going back home, and we weighed the pros and cons and ultimately felt God give us peace and the green light to have Eden in Kathmandu, the place we called home. There were definite sacrifices and challenges but overall our experience was overwhelmingly positive and peaceful.
Preparing for Birth
We read a book called The Positive Birth book by Milli Hill, as well as Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize, and really tried to actively surround ourselves with positive stories of births as well as lots of prayer and declaring God’s truth over us. We made the decision that my birth was going to be a good experience and researched a lot about the process of getting my body ready for the actual birth. I felt really well informed about childbirth which I felt was important as I wanted to know what was happening and to make the choices I wanted rather than rely on the doctors to tell me what to do.
God’s timing was perfect and a brand-new hospital had just been built at the end of our road, and a few people we knew had also given birth there recently so we felt in good hands. The doctor (midwives are not common place) was really good and wasn’t too surprised when we whipped out a birth plan and talked it through with her, even though it is not something the locals do. We also made sure to take a few copies in on the day so that all the medical staff knew what kind of choices we wanted to make.
We heard about a friend of a friend (an American lady) who was training to be a doula so we decided to use her for our birth and it was so helpful having her there. She had attended another birth at that hospital so she knew the staff, as well as having some great techniques for natural pain relief (I didn’t want any medical pain relief). She was also just another friendly and comforting face in a whole room of Nepali medial staff who seemed to wander in and out … including several cleaners who seemed to just want a good look! We also knew a missionary midwife whom we saw for some pre-natal checks aside from our hospital checkups. This was so helpful to get a different perspective. I didn’t put on as much weight as I expected in my pregnancy so it was helpful to talk to somebody a bit more personal and get some advice. I would definitely recommend getting to know the expat crowd as there are so many useful links you can make with other foreigners who may have had similar experiences.
I woke up at 1am with pretty regular contractions. As the hospital was so close we just waited at home so I could rest. I actually felt super calm and peaceful and just listened to my body whilst timing my contractions. I actually wasn’t sure if it was real labour or not because all the contractions were in my back, and for all my researching I hadn’t actually come across that before. We called our doula at 7am and she said it was definitely labour! So by 9am we headed to the hospital (on our motorbike!). The doctor said I was so calm that she wasn’t convinced I was in labour (thank you Jesus!), but she checked and found that I was already 4cm dilated. They took me up to the labour ward and then it was just a blur of medical staff rushing in and out, hooking up IVs (even though I insisted I wouldn’t need drugs), and taking loads of information. My husband Matt was amazing and so calm as well. Husbands are not normally allowed in the delivery room but as we had requested it, they were very accommodating. I actually felt very listened to and respected throughout the whole experience. Our doula arrived and things began to ramp up, the pain was bearable but every contraction got more and more intense so I just put my earphones in to try and focus. I’d recorded Matt and myself reading out prayers and declarations over us and our baby so I just listened to that on repeat. They had to break my waters which was uncomfortable but not painful, and discovered that I had meconium in my water, so they wanted to hook me straight up to continuous monitoring. I didn’t want this as I wanted the freedom to move around, so I just asked if they could regularly check the baby’s heartbeat with a doppler instead which they agreed to. Soon after I felt the urge to push.
I was pushing for a couple of hours and there wasn’t much movement, so they told me they would have to use a suction cup to get the baby out, or to do a C-section. I knew in my spirit that this wasn’t the right thing and felt like they were just saying it out of fear, so we told them that we wanted to keep pushing. After a while longer (I pushed for 2.5 hours total), they said they would need to do an episiotomy which I was fine with at that stage as I was pretty exhausted and realized that she wasn’t coming easily. I don’t remember it being very painful, it was more just relief when after just a couple more pushes, our daughter Eden Rose came out.
I had heard horror stories of the placenta coming out, but mine came out without any trouble at all. They did give me an injection beforehand which is quite normal, and even though they didn’t even ask me, I wasn’t fussed at all at that stage. They then stitched me back up (again, I don’t remember this being particularly painful), and told me I had to pee before I could go to our recovery room. After several tries I couldn’t manage to go, so they had to catheterize me. Without any pain relief the whole time, this was definitely the most painful part! But fortunately it didn’t last very long!
After the Birth
I was in hospital overnight and then left the following evening. We did have a bit of a battle in paying our bill at the end as the hospital were very vague on costs and our bill ended up being 4 times more than we expected in comparison to the other foreigners who had given birth there before us. Unfortunately, we didn’t have insurance but God provided everything we needed in that moment.
We didn’t get much in the way of post-natal care. I had a one-week check up where they removed the stitches that hadn’t dissolved, and checked on Eden, and then I was completely discharged. Our Iris team and local friends were absolutely amazing at getting around us, bringing us food and just loving on us and that made it so much easier to be away from our family and friends back in the UK and South Africa (where Matt is from).
Eden’s head was purple when she came out because I had been pushing for so long. One great testimony was 3 days after we got her home we had the worst day/night where she wouldn’t stop screaming for 12 hours straight. After trying everything, Matt felt God say ‘she has a headache, massage her temples’. After just 15 minutes she was sound asleep! We did have a real issue getting her British passport through, it took many many trips to the passport office, around 35 pages of original evidence as well as an interview, before her passport finally came through 5 months later. I’d recommend to plan in advance for that and ask around if any other expats have experience with that as it can be pretty laborious.