Thursday, December 28, 2006

Punyajanam / namakaranam - naming the baby

Punyajanam (Punya means purifying and janam means birth) is a function held on the 11th day after a baby is born. It is a commonly followed ritual in Tamilians. O the day of the punyajanam, a sastrigal (pandit) is called who performs a small puja and the sprays omathanner(ajwain water) throughout the house as though to cleanse it. No homam (havan) is performed as smoke is not good for the newborn. It is mainly the after who sits through the 30 minute odd pooja reciting shlokas. After the pooja, the mother and the newborn are called. The official and other names that they have decided for the kid is said 3 times in the new born's year and it is also written 3 times in Sanskrit (Devanagiri script) over rice chaff. If the mother is good health wise, then she can wear a 9 yard sari, else it is not a must these days.This is followed by showering of gifts o the newborn and the maternal uncle repeating the process of writing the name under a cradle in which the newborn s put.

Our son's punyajanam was performed today and he was named "Pranav". The other names were Nishit and Anubhav.

Updated on 30 june 2007
Related article : Found another good article on Namkaran Tradition in India

A day after the delivery, after the new mother has recuperated from the anxiety and pain of delivery, there is a sense of relief ad the event she looks forward to most is going back home with the newborn. After all who likes the environs of a hospital. The same was the case with me. It is generally a relief if delivery is normal instead of Cesarean.

The normal practice in India is to discharge the mother and newborn on the third day from the day of delivery, if both of them are doing good. If the mother is weak or if the newborns contracted some infection or jaundice then discharge can get delayed. I the case of Cesarean, both are discharged usually on the 9th or 10th day after the stitches heal. I both cases, there has to be a bowel movement for the mother before she ca get discharged. If it doesn't happen naturally then a tablet is given.

These are under normal circumstances. If there is a complication or emergency it might vary o a case to case basis. Like I got discharged only on the 8th day despite having normal delivery as Pranav was in ICU. Even if the mother is normal they will not discharge her as both the kid and mother will be observed for regular feeding and such for at least 24 hours. A lot of this is also a psychic game and how you conduct yourself. If you complain of too much pain or do not walk or behave normal, the hospital tends to delay your discharge is what I have seen. Good hospitals do not mint moey but there are a lot of them out there who are commercial and one additional day means more income. My only advice is do not panic. If you feel comfortable ad think everything is normal after the stipulated duration, talk to your doctor about your discharge. Cases where there is no inclination or initiative by patients, they tend to lax too.

Monday, December 25, 2006

We're home

There's nothing more thrilling than homecoming after childbirth - coming back to the comforts of your own home takes away all the pains of delivery and exhaustion from the mind and body.

Everyone in the family was excited when I gave birth to LG through a normal delivery instead of Cesarean section just as I wanted. But our stay at the hospital stretched with no end in sight because of LG's medical condition. What was annoying is that no one gave the same story and told what was exactly going on. With the Doctors taking turns in going on vacation and being incommunicado just worsened matters and the nurses acted like they ran the show. The drama is all over now.

We're back home. Lil' General and I left the hospital this afternoon ten minutes past noon and were home in a few minutes to be welcomed the traditional way with a aarthi. We are excited and LG is all confused looking at his new surroundings as if he cares :) But it's nice to be home!

Friday, December 22, 2006

You're back!

There has been a steady flow of guests - relatives, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. Those not familiar with our story yet look at the empty cradle and ask, "Where is the baby?" I feel like saying, "He is attending to Nature's call". But this is not the time to joke. So, i patiently narrate the entire episode. They ask if we have decided a name for you yet. i say, "Name can wait. Let the baby come home first."

No one around here tells us when you will come to me. The Seniol and your uncle have been whiling away time at the other hospital where you are kept by playing UNO cards. They have been asked to standby 24 hours at the Child Jesus Hospital just in case they might need something - medicines etc. No such emergency has ever come in the past 48 hours. We assume they are feeding you well; they caught a glimpse of you this morning.

All I do here is wait for you to arrive. I am fit to go home but you are not. So I wait and wait. It's pretty boring and I am not in the mood to watch any TV. The nurses are no good company either. Every time I see them all I get is instruction to do this and that; to walk, to exercise; to bathe at 7 a.m.; to plait by hair and look presentable at 9 a.m. for the Doctor. what the heck! I think. I just went through a delivery and I am allowed to not look OK for a day, am I not?

I am waiting for that phone call from The Seniol after the Paed has seen you; waiting to hear that you can come back to us so that we don't have to manage the logistics of two hospitals.

The phone rings. Yay! You are allowed to be discharged. Your calcium deficiency condition has been taken care of. You have shown signs of improvement. But they will have to keep you under observation for 2 more days. So, here we are confined to the hospital environs of 2 more days - until the 25th. And then, we go home! Welcome back, for now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a boy

Our kid - Lil' General was born today at 8:13 p.m. It's a boy - 3.2 Kg in weight and a normal delivery.

My first question to the doctor on knowing that I was expecting was "Doc, when is the expected date of delivery?" EDD as is known is calculated from the first day of your LMP (Last menstrual period). it works out to roughly 39 weeks + 9 days. Ofcourse, give and take a few days based on what your sonography reveals. The way my gynaecs calculate how old the foetus is has always made me think that docs are not good at math. While she maintained for the first 4 months that my EDD was 24th Dec, it suddenly changed to 27th Dec mid way. This article in Hindu titled Post-term pregnancy — a dilemma revealed their easy mathematical aptitude :)

The due date
The average length of pregnancy is 280 days, or 40 weeks from the first day of a woman's last menstrual period. It can be hard to predict the exact date of delivery. Only 5 per cent of babies are born on their due dates. Calculating the due date helps the obstetrician know which month of pregnancy you are in and to monitor the progress of the baby, particularly its growth.

Women with irregular periods may require an ultrasound in early pregnancy to establish the actual due date.

Even women with very regular periods may be asked to have an ultrasound scan in early pregnancy to confirm the age of a fetus and thereby, the due date.

The due date should be confirmed as early in pregnancy as possible. Later, it becomes harder to set the due date accurately.

Calculating the due date

The due date is based on the assumption that the conception occurred exactly 2 weeks after the first day of the last period. The method used by all obstetricians around the world, is to add 7 days and subtract 3 months from the date of the first day of the last menstrual period. For example, if the last menstrual period began on June 1, 2006, the due date is calculated as follows: June 1 + 7 days = June 8. June 8 minus 3 months = January 8. Therefore the estimated due date would be January 8, 2007.

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My fingers have been quite busy the past few weeks. Quite agile and I wish I had 10 more of them during the nights. The itching and scratching was so worse that I couldn't manage with 2 hands and was worried I would have rashes all over, which I did eventually, as souvenirs of my first pregnancy.

I was forewarned by a friend that the area around the tummy gets a little itchy as the skin stretches itself. But within days the itchiness spread to arms, legs and thighs. Forgot to mention this to the doctor, so I did a little research myself and was alarmed to find that this could lead to a serious ocndition in some cases causing babies to be still born. Apparently, this is caused by lack of secretion of bile juice from the liver. I mentioned this to the doc today and she confirmed the same and prescribed me a tablet and that seems to help a little bit. But what helped the most since last week were these:

  1. Shed all tight clothes. Wear only loose cotton clothes.

  2. Avoid soap altogether. Soap increases the itchy feeling around the rashes.

  3. Apply oil with a dash of turmeric everyday while talking bath and remove the oil using payatham maavu (powdered moong ki dal).

  4. Drink barley water

  5. apply mosituriser

  6. Stay away from dust. what caused the maximum irritation in my case was the dust in upholsetry and furniture. Strange as it may sound but the skin is very sensitive now.

Medication for Sctracthy/Itchy skin

Here's a tablet prescribed by my Gynaecologist that helped a great deal:

The tablet is called Udiliv to be had once every night. This is to help in the secretion of bile juice (if thats the reason for your itchy skin). Consult your doctor before consuming this tablet.

Here are a few links that might help:
Itchy skin
skin changes during pregnancy
Why have my stretch marks started to itch?

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If you are practical and wise, then it is a good idea to set up the nursery atleast 8 weeks before your EDD (Expected Date of Delivery). If you are over at your mom's or MIL's place, then you may have a lot of help to do it. But if you are on your own, then it is not such a bad idea to get started even before. The second trimester was a breeze compared to the first and what I am going through right now. All I am worried about right now is when it is going to happen and if I am going to throw up tonight - can't think any better than that. Forget getting stuff done. so I am glad that mom thought it through and has everything figured out and ready.

Here's a list of things that my nursery has for the baby:

Updated after LG's birth
Clothing :

  1. It is neither too hot nor too cold here.So based on the climate you might want to shop for your newborn. Assuming that the baby will feel any colder than you do is a misconception I am told. Right now, we have about 15 sets of button up sleeveless cotton shirts. These are cheap and available for Rs. 15 a piece. Very convenient for the baby - easy to slip in and change.

  2. Washable nappies - the triangular ones don't work well. Get the trapezoidal ones. This is what you will need the most. babies urinate anywhere between 20-30 times a day the first few weeks.

  3. White cotton clothes - again about 30-40 of them made from used dhotis or new cotton cloth.

  4. Rubber sheet - atleast 2 of them.

  5. Receiving blanket - 4 to 5 of these. you may not need a hooded blanket and you can use the same while carrying the baby outside.

  6. Socks, mittens were a big waste. Babies just don't like to wear any of these.

  7. Baby pillows. This is not so much for the head, but to give a cushioning effect recreating the atmosphere of the womb. babies sleep better in a cosy environment.

  8. Disposable nappies for your visits to the Paed.

  9. A baby basket to store baby's clothes. A hamper to store other essentials and baby's medicines

  10. Bedsheets - you would need to change atleast one everyday. If you have old bed sheets at home, then do not throw them away. You will need them all until your baby is 7 months old.


  1. Baby towel

  2. Baby tub - either the circular one or the one where babies Can be strapped. the ones where babies can be strapped works well for mothers who bathe the baby themselves.

  3. Johnson's baby soap and baby shampoo

  4. Johnson's baby oil and baby hair oil

  5. Vaseline or diaper rash cream

  6. Dettol to clean the baby's clothes

  7. A laundry basket to store soiled nappies and clothes.

You don't need any other lotion or powder. Babies smell good already :)

If you plan to co-sleep with the baby, you don't need a crib. I co-sleep with LG and it has worked great for both of us.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant, we had everything ready in preparation for the D-Day. Its a good idea to have your bags packed by the time you are 36 weeks after that. It can happen anytime and staying prepared to leave for the hospital anytime of the day/night avoids last minute anxiety and frustration of having missed out something important and rushing back and forth between hospital and home.

Here is a detailed checklist from my bags:

For the mother-to-be while in labour (before the baby is born):

  1. Bathroom Slippers

  2. Night gowns (2)

  3. Hot water to drink

  4. Horlicks/juice

  5. Flask with hot water

  6. Cell phone :)

  7. Some magazine to browse if pain doesn't set in

  8. Hand wash, soap etc

  9. Comb

  10. Toothbrush, toothpaste

For your parents or anyone who is going to stay with you at the hospital:

  1. Waiting time from the moment you are wheeled into the operating room until discharge ca take long. Some times as long as 7 to 8 hours. This can be a very anxious time for parents/husband. So its a good idea to keep some magazines handy though there is a very less likelihood of they flipping through the pages.

  2. Snacks/juice/water

  3. Mobile charger

  4. Bathroom slippers

  5. Bedsheets for the night (2) if you don't like hospital provided ones

  6. Toiletries

  7. Change of clothes, atleast 1 pair

  8. Digital Camera /camcorder

For after the birth:

  1. Sanitary napkins meant for maternity

  2. Nursing bras

  3. Night gowns (2)

  4. Nursing pads or small white cloth for overflowing milk

  5. Comb, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand wash, soap

  6. Garbage bags

For the baby

  1. A small bathtub

  2. Johnson's baby kit - baby hair oil, baby oil, baby soap, baby powder

  3. Pampers' newborn Diaper for the baby when you have to leave from the hospital

  4. Nappies - atleast 15 of them

  5. White cloth to put underneath the baby

  6. Rubber sheet for the baby

  7. Cotton wrap for the baby - 6

  8. Socks if it is cold else don't waste your money on this. Kids hate socks.

  9. White cotton cloth to wipe baby's face

  10. Wipes to clean the baby after stools/urine

  11. Receiving sheet for the baby

  12. Baby blanket/fleece blanket (2) if it is cold.

  13. Old cotton dresses of the baby to wear

  14. One nice dress to get the baby back home

The period since late April until now has by far remained the toughest time of my life. You would have heard stories of how women glow and shine and get pampered through their pregnancy. All of that is true, if not fully atleast partly. What also goes with it are those damn "mood swings".

I have a feeling that I have put a little of people at discomfort because of this pregnancy - at home and at work. There have been time in the first trimester when I would hardly wait for a colleague to finish his/her sentence before I got restless and excused myself out of the room for no good reason. The same day there have been happy times as well. My mood has seen troughs and crests within hours. I don't know if I should blame the hormones or my was worse the first trimester and it slowly got better and am doing a lot better now because I get ample rest and am in the comfort zone of mom.

Here are some tips that helped me. I acknowledge it will take a lot of effort from your side and advice, that too unsolicited, is the last thing you want to hear at this stage. But if at all you are in the frame of mind to take it and try it and if it works, then great!

  1. No isolation: Always be in the company of others. Being alone can be very depressing now. I avoided people in my frist trimester for whatever reasons and got myself into a shell , not talking to anyone, getting irritated at people who tried to be nice and friendly because I wasn't feeling good. In the end I realised it did not do me any good, so I started reaching out to a select few I felt comfortable with and it helped.

  2. Share the feeling that you are pregnant with your friends. Keeping it under the wraps for too long will make you uncomfortable and believe me the gossip mongers will work overtime to wonder whats wrong and start speculating.

  3. This is what worked for me - listening to shlokas or some soothing music every morning. It would be a great help if your husband can play it on every morning.

  4. Next important thing is diet. No positive attitude can make you feel better if you are suffering from a heartburn after giving into that craving :) So watch what you eat even if you can't resist it. You don't want to feel bad later.

  5. A little retail therapy and time out with your partner like evening walks or just sitting on the terrace will do you a lot of good.

  6. If its a first pregnancy, then its a lot of firsts for both of you. The more involved the husband is, the more pleasant the pregnancy will be for the wife. You can do fun things like shopping for the kid, feel the experience of the baby kicking together..

  7. Don't do anything that makes you sad like a sad movie or song or getting yourself worked up into an emotional conversation that will eventually make you cry.

  8. Use your commute time to work to calm yourself.

Food, what to have and what not to, is very tricky in the first trimester for you don't know what suits and what doesn't. Its a trial and error exercise. It took me 2 cups of tea and a bowl of cornflakes to eliminate milk from my diet while curd was ok. Sure, milk is very essential and a must-have because it is rich in Calcium. But I figured it was better to avoid than have it and throw up everything else I ate afterward.

Finding a healthy substitute for cornflakes as breakfast was difficult. Used to having a bowl of cereals for over 4 years, it was tough to get used to something else. But then hunger teaches you, doesn't it :) My diet constituted of the following during the first trimester:

7:00 a.m. - A bowl of sprouts (green urad dal and kala chana)
7:30 a.m. - Horlicks
8:00 a.m. - 2 bananas
9:30 a.m. - 3 Idlis
11:30 a.m. - Lunch - a big plate of vegetable/fruit salad with no dressing. Just salt/sugar sprinkled with lemon. Or rice.
3:00 p.m. - Fruits - apples, cheekus, pomegranates, mangoes whatever the season was
5:30 p.m. - Biscuits
7:00 p.m. - Fruits or some light snack
8:30 p.m. - dinner - dosa /idli or something other than rice/rotis. The smell of rotis was nauseating.

As a substitute for milk, I tried condensed milk which suited me. it is worth the initial effort to make a diet chart of what you like / don't. It is best to avoid fried foods and milk based sweets.

The ideal sleeping posture during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is left lateral position. This increases the blood circulation for the foetus. Lying on back is quite harmful during the later stages I'm told as it exerts pressure and makes breathing for the mother difficult. This was one difficult habit to overcome and unconsciously every night I would roll on my back. Try keeping pillows on both sides as a fortress to support your back and the earlier you get used to sleeping on the sides the better it will be.

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