Monday, February 20, 2012

Pregnancy Posts: Introduction

When we got pregnant, I realized how little practical information is available on the internet for expat mothers. With the exception of a few really great Brazilian-based bloggers who detailed their pregnancies for the world, there's just this big blank space in the ether. So I decided to keep track of our decisions and whatnot to help out other families who might be in our situation.

Pregnancy, like all major life events, is a chance to be totally BOMBARDED by advertisers. Everyone has something to sell you once a child is growing in your womb. And it can be hard to separate the necessary from the "nice to have" and the essential from the purely fun. What's even worse is when you're an expat with limited suitcase space, no access to affordable infant things, and one trip a year to your home country. Everyone in Rio says that taking a pregnancy vacation in the United States will pay for itself, as the amount you save buying everything overseas will more than pay for the cost of the ticket. Crazy, but true. Baby things are hella expensive in Rio. We are talking R$2000 for a crib made of particle board, R$250 for a Bumbo seat…and some things aren't even really available here yet. Prenatal vitamins aren't sold in the drugstores (I think you have to have them mixed at a special pharmacy), cloth diapering isn't locally popular, and the options are limited, so anything you want/need has to be brought from abroad and maternity clothing is only just starting to appear in the stores (and like everything else, costs obscene amounts of money. As if that weren't enough, being in another culture means that the whole pregnancy experience is different. Expectations are different. For example, Caesarean sections are the norm in Brazil, so finding a doctor who is amenable to natural birth is a big deal. Brazilians often treat pregnancy like a disease; people don't want me to WALK outside, for goodness sake, or carry my own groceries, or exercise. Women are treated like queens during this time: special seats are provided on the buses; I get to go through priority lines at the supermarket, bank and post office; and it's assumed that you'll need all sorts of specialized care: nutritionists, massage therapists, birth consultants who will help you learn how to give your baby a bath (?!) and more. Phew. It all makes my head spin.

Over the next few months, I'll be posting at semi-regular intervals, detailing the random little things about pregnancy in another culture that I wished I'd had access to at the beginning. Stay tuned...

No comments: