Monday, 16 November 2009

La Matrona by Kate

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about meeting a Spanish midwife for the first time, having heard and read mixed reports about them. The rest of the medical profession I've encountered since lowering myself into uncertain waters of the pre-natal system in Madrid have tended to be brisk, brusque and professional and not exactly brimming over with what you might describe as bedside manner.

So Maite was a pleasant surprise. Brisk and professional, yes. And undeniably, a tad brusque at times (she castigated Theo and me for not being better at speaking and understanding Spanish by now - everyone else we meet has been highly complementary on our emerging linguistic abilities). But - and it's an important but - she has a sense of humour. Plus she wasn't afraid to speak a bit of English to us, which was very endearing as we floundered about trying to find the right words to ask for information on the hitherto more obscure aspects of giving birth in Madrid.

Best of all, she made it clear she was very much in favour of natural, active birth - she told me sternly it would require a lot of preparation and isn't for the faint-hearted, but seemed satisfied when I assured her I was already doing the yoga and relaxation practice to get ready. When we asked about ante natal classes (called pre-natal classes here) she shrugged and said she wasn't sure how useful I would find them as she would be speaking Spanish very quickly and I probably wouldn't understand anything. But she seemed willing to let me give them a try, although Theo was disappointed to learn that most of the classes aren't open to husbands and partners.

The other thing she told us, which was also reassuring, was that Hospital La Paz - our assigned hospital - has a policy of minimal medical intervention during the birth process and suggested that all being well, I should be able to try my hand at doing it naturally without major unwanted interference from the obstetrics team. A far cry from the days when Giles Tremlett's wife gave birth in the same hospital, as recounted in his excellent book, Ghosts of Spain. That book was responsible for grave doubts on my part about the business of having a child in a Spanish public hospital. Still, assuming that Maite is right, we'll go ahead and take the La Paz option, keeping fingers crossed that all will be as she says it should.

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