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Written by Ana Lindenhann

pregnancyBeing pregnant is such a wonderful feeling. It makes you feel like a complete woman. Remember what our mothers used to say that once we had given birth, our debt to our own mothers is paid. Which is really true because only then have we continued the universal cycle: that of giving life.

MY HUSBAND PETER and I have been wanting for a long time to have a baby and finally last April, our prayers were answered, when one morning I saw the two stripes on the pregnancy test. We felt so elated and called the appointment with my doctor in order to confirm that we were not merely dreaming. He told me to visit him again on my 9th week, thus marking the start of my entry to the Danish health system as an expectant woman.

sweet waitingThe first medical check-up happened on my 9th week and my husband was with me. The father’s presence is important because the doctor will ask about the history of both your families, for example if there have been some serious diseases in the family that your child might genetically inherit. He also asked what in hospital I wanted to give birth: a choice between Hvidovre and Rigshospitalet. The most important proof of my pregnancy – the ”vandrejournal” or pregnancy chart which I take with me whenever I go the doctor, the hospital or the midwife, wherein they all write the relevant information about my pregnancy. It is also used as proof when I file my maternity leave.

Since I turned 35 years old, I was offered automatically tests such as “nakkefoldscanning” and a triple test on my 13th week to check if my baby might have some abnormalities like mongolism or some misdevelopment of some of its organs. Luckily it was perfect and for the first time I saw my precious baby on the screen moving and fully developed, and I thought to myself that in my “fat stomach” there’s actually a life, a baby inside of me. I cried from happiness.

In my 18th week we went to the hospital again, this time for ultrasound to determine the exact time I will give birth and to check if the baby is okay. There was no problem he/she was perfect. We do not want to know its sex. We wanted it to be a surprise!

During my 15th week, the midwife gave me a check up: blood pressure and sugar content in my urine and weight. She asked if I wanted to sign up for the birthing classes and I said Yes. It is a preparation towards the birth process, where we see some actual birth experiences of some women and other topics regarding coping with pregnancy’s final phase. She also asked me if I wanted a health care nurse who will visit to answer many questions about taking care of both baby and myself, when the baby first arrives. As a first time Mom, I welcomed the opportunity. Since I reside in Copenhagen municipality, there are 3 visits to one’s own doctor and 5 to the midwife. But if there are some problems I can contact the doctor and the midwife or the hospital anytime.

Being an immigrant pregnant woman in Denmark it is comforting to know that I am being taken care of by the Danish Health System throughout my pregnancy, and even after the baby is born. We get a lot of information from the system especially for first timer mothers like me.
If I would be living in the Philippines, I think I will be experiencing more stress because besides the physical changes in my body I will be worrying about hospital fees where I will be giving birth. There are a lot of others who need the services of public hospitals and free clinics more than I do.

Here in Denmark they reiterate to the mothers to breastfeed, which is very different than in the Philippines where most of the working mothers do not follow this, rather they rely on powdered milk, which cost a lot of money.
It is because the women have very short maternity leaves –they already need to go back to their work after 2 weeks! Compare that to the Danish maternity leave of up to a year! And fathers are even encouraged to also take their maternity leaves as provided by the law.

Anytime after Christmas and New Year, I will be giving birth to my baby, which sex I and my husband do not yet know till now. But whatever it is, I pray that it will be very healthy and grow up with the good values and qualities of our two cultures.

7 Important things to remember at pregnancy

  1. Folic acid – this is a B-vitamin that should be taken even when you just planning to become pregnant. This is important in the development of the brain and spinal chord. Recommended intake is 400 microgram everyday. It can be found in many foods especially green vegetables.
  2. Iron – This is a mineral that secures that the red blood cells can send oxygen around the body. Recommended intake 50-70 milligram daily from week 20. This can be found in green vegetables, eggs, poultry & lean meat.
  3. Fibre rich food – It is good to prevent constipation which is very natural occurrence in pregnancy. It’s found in wheat breads, brown rice and different fruits and vegetables.
  4. Water – This is good as it is very important to give humidity in and out of the body. 2 liter daily is recommended.
  5. Exercise – It is good for mother and the baby because it keeps the blood running and the distribution of oxygen in the body. Cycling, walking, cleaning in the house are both beneficial.
  6. Calcium – this is very important in the development of the baby’s teeth and bones. Recommended intake of calcium is 500grams daily or to drink ¾ liter of milk daily.
  7. Totally avoid alcohol and as much as possible, stop smoking as these can affect the baby’s development.
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