Sex, Pregnancy & Child Birth - Family Experience Sharing


Mother's younger sister ( we call Pinni in Telugu) is the best friend to a girl to guide her on sex, pregnancy & Childbrith. Because of the present nuclear family culture & physical distances, this traditional knowledge-sharing is now-a-days lost. To fill this vacuum I thought of writing this article for the young girls who are likely to get married or have got married recently.

I'm presently 48 years and been recently elevated to the status of a Grandmother (technically) with the arrival of a new baby to my niece. With my new found status and age advantage, I dare to share a few of my experiences on sex, pregnancy and childbirth for the benefit of the present young generation.

It's purely an experience sharing article and would in no way substitute a professional advice. I wouldn't be able to guide individually because, I'm not formally qualified in this field, except with my practical experience. I prefer to ignore your emails and comments on this subject. It may be evaluated purely as a MOM's experience shared to her Daughters.

Soon after our marriage, myself and my husband landed at Bombay. His friends arranged for a party in the evening, where a few of his other colleagues arrived along with their spouses. It was a great evening and after the party a few ladies stayed back for a while to discuss in private. While some suggested that I should avoid pregnancy till the first anniversary, a few others indirectly probed what precautions I was taking to avoid pregnancy. A couple of them suggested that I should consult a doctor and get pills prescribed to postpone pregnancy. In fact I too wanted to enjoy extended honey-moon for atleast an year, i.e till the first marriage anniversary. As the evening progressed guests started leaving and the last person to leave was Smt Anuradha Reddy who was older to me and is married since 5 years by then. She said

"Gayatri, you have heard to all their suggestions, isn't? Now, let me share with you my own experience. I was on pills to avoid pregnancy and as a result presently I'm suffering a lot. I'm unable to conceive and going round hospitals for various check-ups. I suggest you should not adopt pills under any circumstances, even under the guidance of doctors. Adopt any other natural method but not pills."

I could see the sincerity in her eyes and believed her. Among the various methods available we decided to adopt Calendar Rhythm Method along with Abstinence Method, though we were aware that its success is only 80%. We chose it because it didn't have side effects and had an element of discipline and appreciation for the partner. In case of failure there is nothing to loose but gain only, i.e pregnancy. For the benefit of my readers this method is explained below

How conception takes place. 

Ladies have two ovaries and every month only one egg is produced from either of the ovaries and is released into the uterus. This egg is released in the mid of a menstrual cycle.It remains active only for 3-4 days. Healthy male sperms released into the vagina travel to the uterus and can survive to remain active for 4-5 days. When the survival periods of both egg and sperm overlap, the egg fuses with only one sperm to form an embryo that gets attached to the Uterus, which grows into a baby. 

Menstrual Calendar Rhythm ( aka - Safe Period) method with Abstinence

The calendar rhythm method to avoid pregnancy relies upon calculating a woman's fertile period on the menstrual calendar. Based upon her 12 previous menstrual cycles, a woman subtracts l8 days from her shortest menstrual cycle to determine her first fertile day, and 11 days from her longest menstrual cycle to determine her last fertile day. She can then calculate the total number of days during which she may ovulate. If a woman's menstrual cycles are quite irregular from month to month, there will be a greater number of days during which she might become pregnant.

Examples 

If a lady has regular periods of 28 to 29 days. Her fertile period is considered to be from 10th day(i.e 28-18) to 18th day (i.e 29-11) in a menstrual calander cycle. Let us assume her last menses started on 5th of April, then her ovulation period is considered to be from 15th of April to 23rd of April (both days inclusive), when she would be fertile". The partners can come together from 5th to 14th April and from 24th till the next menses. During 15th to 23rd April they should abstain intercourse which is known as Abstinence method. During this shut period, they can innovate a variety of romantic or other sexual activities as alternatives to vaginal intercourse. As long as personal hygiene and consent is maintained everything is fair in sex. As age progresses couples wouldn't mind increasing the Abstinence period to have increased protection.Depending upon the desired level of protection add one or two days to either side of the Abstinence Period - say 14 April to 24 April or 13 April to 25 April. Similarly young couples who want to be sure about not becoming pregnant also need to have extended abstinence period just discussed - ofcourse it’s a challenge :) LOL

If a lady has irregular periods and her shortest cycle is 26 days and the longest cycle was 32 days, then fertile period is considered to be from 8th day (i.e 26-18) to 21st day (32-11) in a menstrual calender cycle. Let us assume in this case also her last menses started on 5th of April, then her ovulation period is considered to be from 13th of April to 26th of April (both days inclusive), when she would be fertile". During 13th to 26th April they should abstain intercourse. During this shut period, they can innovate a variety of romantic or sexual activities as alternatives to vaginal intercourse. As long as personal hygiene and consent is maintained everything is fair in sex.  As age progresses couples wouldn't mind increasing the Abstinence period to have increased protection.Depending upon the desired level of protection add one or two days to either side of the Abstinence Period - say 12 April to 27 April or 11 April to 28 April. Similarly young couples who want to be sure about not becoming pregnant also need to have extended abstinence period just discussed - ofcourse it’s a challenge :) LOL

Sex would be a pleasure only when consent exists between both the parties. It should never be thrust by one on another. During three days of menses many couples wouldn't like to have intercourse. This choice is personal.

Benefits

  1. Has no negative health side effects 
  2. An alternative for women who cannot or do not want to use hormonal methods 
  3. Promotes positive body awareness 
  4. Consistent with many religious beliefs and lifestyles 
  5. Alerts women to reproductive health and fertility concerns 
  6. Fosters communication between partners 
  7. Encourages partners to enjoy a variety of romantic or sexual activities as alternatives to vaginal intercourse during fertile periods 
  8. Encourages male involvement
Disadvantages
  1. Provides no protection from sexually transmitted infections, if one of the partners has them
  2. One needs to be meticulous to note the menstrual dates in writing for reference
  3. Requires time to learn, calculate and remember (usually 3 to 6 cycles), which is not really difficult if once decided 
  4. Requires discipline and commitment from both the partners to adhere to the Abstinence period
  5. Times of abstinence from intercourse may be a challenge for some couples, if alternative sexual activities are not evolved by themselves.

Now the issue is whether I could control my pregnancy till my first marriage anniversary. The answer is a big NO. It worked fine from October 87 to June 88. For only once we breached the discipline - we both knew the instance and the result was also known in the next month (I still accuse my husband for breaching the promise - LOL:)). My first feeling on being declared pregnant was to feel sorry because I wanted some more time before I conceived. 


In Bombay my doctor was Dr. Nilesh Vora. He was a male and many ladies in the colony wondered why I chose a male gynecologist? For me he was the doctor in the immediate neighborhood and quite a few cute babies have been delivered in his nursing home. I for one believed a doctor is a doctor no matter whether its a male or a female.Later in my life I had been to both male and female gynecologists and I found male gynecologists more sympathetic than the women gynecologists. Female gynecologists bench marked their personal experience and were found to be biased compared to the the male gynecologists. My experience remains that male gynecologists were more sympathetic, hearing & understanding their female patients problems.

Dr Vora inquired about the birth controls we followed prior to pregnancy and felt happy with the method we adopted. He gave a Big Congratulation to both of us. He said "Mrs Sharma, you are so lucky to conceive naturally, which is gradually becoming rare - for which I started a fertility clinic along with a maternity home". Soon he calculated the Expected Due Date (EDD) and prepared a file to note my visits and readings. He advised me to have home made food and avoid eating outside. He was categorical to mention that I should have sufficient lentils, vegetables everyday. No restrictions on foods what so ever. He was happy to note that I don't have a servant or domestic help. I myself swept & mopped the floor, cleaned the utensils and even laundered our clothes. He opined that I should continue with these activities and my objective should be to have a Normal Delivery.

Once back at home I had to reconcile to my pregnancy
, and this news spread among friends. Second, Third and Fourth months passed off just normally with the only difference that I didn't have my menses and the Abstinence period discussed above became irrelevant. Doctor Vora suggested that we couple can also come together during pregnancy.

Doctor fixed monthly visits and I was regular to keep the schedule. Till fifth month the tummy was not visible. Luckily I didn't suffer from morning sickness. Hardly once or twice I had a strong urge to have Tamarind mixed in a pinch of salt. However during this period I became sensitive to smells and odors.  

In fifth month I started feeling that something is moving inside. When I shared this with my friend Manju Bhabi, she gave me 'New Baby Book". This book discussed human body and month-wise pregnancy details. I was delighted to get this book and the changes in me were just as mentioned in this book. Manju Bhabi and Harish Java ji have a son "GULGUL"who just resembled the child on the cover page of "New Baby Book". Java ji gave strict instructions to Manju Bhabhi that she should never allow me to take "Gulgul" into my lap. They feared that unknowingly "Gulgul" may kick on my tummy. But I was tempted to play with this child and therefore visited them often. Bhabhi used to give me hot-hot Aloo Parathas which I used to devour! I remain thankful to her for that noble gesture.

Manju Bhabhi was good at knitting sweaters and was busy at one, probably for Gulgul. I too showed interest and she introduced it to me. Obviously the first sweater attempted for was for the little one to come. I made lot of mistakes and she had the patience to correct me at every step. The size was too small and I just loved to see the size. I forgot that my due date was for April, which is the mid-summer in India and sweater would be of little necessity. This sweater was the first material acquisition of the little one to come!

Smt Jayashree Kashikar visited us with her cute son "ADITYA", an ever smiling jumping Jack. She took me aside and inspected the garments I wore, by pulling each one including the inner ones. She advised me to loosen immediately my Petticoat and wear only loose clothes. She volunteered to get me bigger bras and other accessories if needed. I assured her that I would invest on loose clothing and followed her advice. I started wearing petticoat loosely and changed the blouses etc. In age I'm 5 years younger to my husband, but gradually I started looking older to my husband - Looking like his NANI - LOL:). The loose garments added their share of mischief, but I took it in my stride because I started enjoying my Motherhood. Perforce I had to do away wearing matching blouses to the sarees, etc. LOL:).

In fifth month doctor adviced me to go for long walks after dinner and short walks in the early morning sunlight. My husband took the advice very seriously. After dinner we both started walking. Even today I feel those long walks in the colony lawn are the sweetest moments in our life. At times these walks over stretched to a couple of hours also. I thank him for that initiative and the company he gave all through. This brought us really together at emotional level too.

The tummy movements inside became even more prominent as days progressed. On my husband's return from office I used to narrate him (sometimes forcefully) what all tummy movements I have experienced during the day and how they are similar to the ones narrated in the "New Baby Book". If for some reason there was no movement inside for a long time, I used to get worried.

The reference of the child inside became more and more pronounced in my discussions, therefore it was time for us to decide a name for the child. We zeroed to "Abhilasha" if it is a girl and "Abhilash" if it is a boy. Soon two posters also adored our walls. I really don't know how many times I would have kissed & talked to these posters and shared with them that their friend inside my tummy would soon join to play.

One of our well-wishers visited our place and seeing me very happy said that I would be having a Baby Boy only. Surprised we asked how she predicted. She gave a peculiar reasoning - "If the lady is happy at the time of conceiving, its a baby Boy. If the lady is under stress at the time of conception, it would be a baby Girl. Girls can bear more stress thus a stressed lady's body would prepare for a Girl child only". As I was looking happy she predicted that it is a baby Boy only.

But as a science student I read that while (male) sperms have both "X" and "Y" Chromosomes, (female) eggs have only "X" chromosomes. Sex of a child is determined based on  pairing combination that takes place, i.e {"X" with "X"} or {"X" with "Y"}. If it's an {"X" and "X"} pairing its a baby Girl and if the pairing is {"X" and "Y"} its a baby Boy. Thus in school we were taught that while mother's egg is neutral in deciding the sex of a baby, it is the fathers sperm which decides it. 

But after my friends visit, I too started believing her theory -  where probably a stressed lady's body may prefer choosing an "X" chromosome sperm to conceive a baby Girl. Therefore my new theory is that if a family wants a baby Boy, keep the mother happy all through so that her body would choose a "Y" chromosome and gives them a baby Boy only. Hope all protagonists for baby Boys are reading this and would follow. LOL:)

One of our friends Shri Santosh Mohanty ji was visiting Goa and my husband asked him to get  1 Kg of cashew. Next month Shri Pranab Pandey ji brought one more 1 Kg of cashew from Goa. They considered me as their own Bhabi and remembered to get those cashews. With affection my husband served a handful of it everyday from fifth month to seventh month.

In the sixth month my wait in the lobby to meet doctor extended a bit longer than usual. I heard from the duty nurses that doctor is busy doing sonography to an earlier patient. During my turn I requested doctor to do sonography and show my baby. Smilingly he said that I'm fortunate to have a normal pregnancy and tests are done only for those who not so fortunate. I felt dejected when he didn't oblige but was also elated when he said everything is normal. By then I started reading various articles in "Women' Era", "Femina" and other magazines and had a few doubts to be discussed with Dr Vora. His one line answer was that I should avoid reading all that stuff which discuss extremes and exceptions. Instead I should stick to "New Baby Book" which talks about general pregnancy, which is well written.

Suddenly one day while washing bathroom tiles, I slipped and fell down. Luckily I landed with a thud on my back. My husband hurried home and immediately we rushed to the doctor. Dr Vora examined and said everything is normal. He explained how the weights of carrying mothers get unevenly distributed, for which one should be careful from sixth month onwards - especially while walking -  more so on wet floors. He suggested that I should continue my routine chores of washing, cleaning etc but should lift lesser weights - smaller buckets etc

In seventh month the tummy became even bigger and physical developments for lactation started. I started feeling difficulty in bending forward. Towards the end of seventh month I left for Hyderabad and stayed with parents. I felt so sorry to leave my husband and poster friends. Tears rolled down and I couldn't control. I wished my parents come to Bombay and help in my delivery. However, Customs and Parents Convenience took precedence.

At Hyderabad my parents took me to Dr Leela who was attached to Dangoria Maternity Home. After examination, doctor asked me to cut down cashew because the baby shouldn't over grow hindering a smooth normal delivery. My mother ensured that I ate sumptuously every day and introduced a compulsory leafy vegetable every next day. I had only a multivitamin tablet till delivery and a calcium tablet was added from seventh month. I continued to sweep the floor and attended a few other minor works at parents home too till the labor pains started.

In eighth month due to the expansion of skin on tummy, there was itching which I had to control a lot. During final stages of pregnancy, due to uneven distribution of weight, my gait also changed whereby I developed corns in my feet. The movements inside became more vigorous and a few jerks were also felt, at times there used to be a small protrusion here and there on the tummy which also used to vanish suddenly. 

Finally in March 1989, at Dangoria Maternity Home our bundle of JOYS was delivered. Now this infant "Abhilash" has grown into an adult

I would remain ever grateful to Smt Karuna our family friend and well-wisher who gave me constant company at Maternity Home. 



(All Mothers must have had similar experiences - the only difference is I share these openly with younger generation to give them confidence in their new role. Enjoy Life Responsibly !)


To sum it up

  1. Adopt non-intrusive and non-hormonal methods to prevent pregnancy
  2. On becoming pregnant, be proud and happy
  3. Wear loose clothes and tie the knots on petticoats loosely
  4. Have a good general book on pregnancy - so that you can follow all the changes happening in your body and enjoy your pregnancy all through
  5. Discuss openly your pregnancy related issues with your husband and doctor
  6. Eat plenty of vegetables and pulses, don't have self imposed restrictions on "what not to eat" unless stopped by doctors
  7. Don't be conscious on putting on weight, which you can reduce even after delivery and nursing the child
  8. Monitor the growth and weight of the baby inside to help a smooth delivery
  9. Go about doing all your daily chores like sweeping, mopping, washing, laundering etc - these activities keep you fit and help for a normal delivery. Don't rest unnecessarily on the pretext of pregnancy
  10. As the pregnancy goes into advanced stages, husbands should be sensitive enough to support and share your jobs 
  11. Go for long walks after dinner and before going to bed
  12. Enjoy good soothing music and movies while resting
  13. Bring posters which you like and don't hide your emotions while talking to them and to your own child in the womb
  14. Look forward for a NORMAL DELIVERY.

In developed countries when wife labors, husband is encouraged to be beside her, which isn't in India. I strongly believe that this practice would help Males to appreciate and be compassionate to Females for taking up the role of a MOTHER. On YouTube there are many videos on the subject of "Normal Delivery". I strongly advise would-be fathers to see these videos and appreciate his wife, for the trouble she takes to bring their loved one into this world. 

Caution : Children & Expectant mothers should avoid seeing such videos. 
Use your discretion.

Comments through e-mail (Names withheld)
 
Thanks a lot mam for sharing so useful information through your article under title of 'sex,preganancy & child birth'. I am an engineer by profession in Pune. Recently got engaged with very cute n honest girl. We are very eager and cautious too about life after marriage. I was specially worried about the things you shared. Your article has made me so relaxed and clear about how to take care of my two babies i.e. my fiancee and would be child. We are going to get married on 4 th of feb 2014. You already have sent your blessings and wishes in the form of very caring and explaining article. Very grateful frm bottom of the heart. Regards

Comments on Blog (Names withheld)
 
Hii gayatri garu.. I'm just a die hard fan of u.. and whenever i discuss about any recipe or topic in ur site with my friends, i simply say athaya, i.e Aunty (hope u r not offended..this is just the lighter side).. everythng u told about pregnancy is just awesome.. i being a doc know only the physical aspects of pregnancy but u have just put a lovey and adorable things about the psychological and social aspects of pregnancy which is not recoverable from any book..Thnq for all your recipes and blogposts.. keep up this good work..wish u a long and happiest ever life ahead :) 




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