They calculate the expected delivery date by counting 40 weeks plus 10 days from the start of the last menstrual cycle. The first tests during pregnancy are blood, blood type, and urine tests. Then there’s a glucose test after the 24th week. After the 35th week, the most common tests are for hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, HIV, and rubella. The mother has at least three ultrasound examinations up until the baby is born, between weeks 11 and 14, in week 20, and between weeks 34 and 37. She will see her obstetrician/gynecologist for an examination once a month, then every 15 days from the start of the seventh month, and every week in the ninth month. Of course, these are the standard timings, and each mother would be instructed by her obstetrician/gynecologist to have other tests, for example, depending on her physical condition.
The mother will receive vaccinations for influenza, hepatitis A and B, and the triple combined vaccination (pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria). Since 2011, a lot of people in Brazil have contracted pertussis, and the rate of death among newborns has been particularly high, so it is recommended as a precaution that this triple combined vaccination be given before the baby is born to the grandpas, grandmas, and babysitters, who will always be in contact with the newborn.
Admission at a maternity clinic is for two nights and three days in the case of a natural birth, or three nights and four days for a birth by caesarean section. Of the three million babies born between 2010 and 2015, 55.5% were by caesarean section and 44.5% were natural deliveries. Statistics for public hospitals alone show that 59.8% were natural deliveries and 40.2% were by caesarean section. There are various reasons why the rate of caesarean sections is higher in private maternity clinics in Brazil, for example, they have more cases in which both mother and child are at high risk, the mother has given instructions for a caesarean section, and practicality on the part of the doctor. Recently there has been a movement to give more consideration to mothers and promote natural delivery because mothers recover faster after natural delivery and delivering a baby in Brazil is painless thanks to anesthesia.
If you go into a private room at a maternity clinic you will find the newborn baby in the same room as the mother. Being together means the mother can talk directly with the doctors and the nurses and get guidance on how to breastfeed, how to change diapers, and how to bathe the baby. It also means, however, that the mother doesn’t get much time to rest immediately after the birth.
In Brazil, your friends put on a baby shower for you a few months before the baby is born. Everyone comes together with a gift for the coming baby. At some baby showers they play games, but the conversation soon gets buzzing with talk about the new baby. The most common gift seems to be disposable diapers, the most needed item. Everyone being so happy about the birth of the baby is something that makes you glad and grateful, right? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can’t have a get together with lots of people, and in my son’s case, a friend did some cute decorating in the dining room of their apartment on behalf of us all. The friend also brought everyone’s presents and video messages. It was a joy.
When a baby is born, the parents and siblings go to the maternity clinic straight away to see him or her of course, but so too do relatives and friends. Because of that, clinic rooms get lively with all the people in them during visiting hours. As you walk down the corridor, you can hear laughter from all the new mothers’ rooms. Because lots of people come to visit, there is a hook on the outside of the door to each room, and the mothers can prepare some decorations and hang picture frames beforehand. You can tell the sex of the newborn child inside the room just by looking at the picture frame. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic right now, things are extremely strict, with limited visiting hours and only four visitors per day, which is a bit sad. I heard that the women who gave birth in April and May this year were not allowed to have visitors at maternity clinics.
While the pandemic still hasn’t settled down, I hope to watch the baby grow with everyone in the family supporting each other.