Oh the joys of expecting, huh?
Ever since having been pregnant with my first child 2 years ago, I came to realize how advices given to pregnant people here are so conflicted. Especially between the younger generation, older generation, and midwives. Let’s not forget the all mighty internet too.
The list of dos and dont’s of pregnancy is quite long but factor in Mongolian folklore and the list can get longer. There are those who lie down for a whole 9 months because they were advised by doctors to be “careful”. Okay, if you’re at a risk of a miscarriage then yes some cautions need to be taken, but if you’re more or so healthy, that’s just insane and a waste. Not only will you gain more weight than the recommended amount, but so will your baby, in turn makes it difficult for labour and cause other complications.
Here’s an eyebrow lifter: Putting your hands on your belly will limit the baby’s air in the womb…
Obsession with sonograms
The unsupervised amount of ultrasounds like 4D and 5D seem to have gone to a whole new level. There are so many private clinics around that pregnant folks can go in and get an ultrasound whenever they feel like it. Yes, I think ultrasounds are necessary, but every week? No, right? Although ultrasounds are relatively safe, too much can actually be very stressful for the baby because of the constant sound waves, and heat waves especially in cases of 4D or 5D (source was from a pregnancy class I took, former gynecologist: You can check the classes out here).
The rise of gynecologists and midwives in small private clinics have led to so many women being hospitalized and having IV’s stuck up their veins filled with vitamins and nutrients and relaxants because some women have what is diagnosed in Mongolia as “severe” Braxton hicks syndrome. If you’ve been a pregnant woman, I’m sure you have experienced such minor contractions during your pregnancy and is usually considered safe and normal. If you have no idea what Braxton Hicks is and want to find out more, click here.
The interesting thing with Braxton Hicks is that in Mongolia and it seems only in Mongolia, it is diagnosed as a severe symptom. Here are the difference in opinions I have personally experienced:
Mom: “It does exist. I had to take muscle relaxants all throughout my second pregnancy when I was 38 because the contractions were suffocating the baby. I had to take it easy.”
My midwife: “There is no such thing. It’s a Braxton Hicks contraction. If severe contractions do happen during pregnancy, it’s cause is usually something else.” / you can read her article about it here (in Mongolian).
1 of my friends: “I ignored the symptoms until I couldn’t any longer. I just began my third trimester and the contractions caused the baby to move down lower creating lots of pressure on my pelvic bones and bladder. My doctor told me to lie down a lot.”
Stressing your body too much can lead to Braxton Hicks contractions, a warning that you need to take it easy and relax a bit, but that is not a reason to be immediately hospitalized. I’m only saying this because there have been people that I know, who go to the hospital at the slightest signs of contractions. The clinics and some hospitals accept these patients, I don’t know whether it’s for the money or there’s just a general fear of Braxton Hicks among the population, but getting unnecessary meds and fluids injected into your body in my opinion is just ridiculous.
The bureaucracy of it all
During my pregnancy I scanned the internet about good pregnancy information. With my English I could get a lot of good reads and apps and such. However I’ve noticed that there is an overall lack of information in Mongolian. Public hospitals and clinics offer a very limited source of instructional classes. With the lack of midwives and just doctors in general, information sharing and public awareness campaigns and such are probably at the bottom of priorities as compared to surgeries and just basically saving lives.
When you get pregnant, you need to get registered to your district clinic regardless of where or what private hospital your general checkups are being held. In my case I had signed up for the Pregnancy Care Intermed package, but it didn’t matter because I was officially registered in Sukhbaatar District, so I went over to the small state clinic that is responsible for residents near the National Circus area. There you have to show all of your lab test results to the nurse. They refill them out on a different notebook in that clinic. Handwriting each of the test results into that notebook. Takes forever…
Then after all that, you take that notebook and you go to the State hospital designated to your district so that the midwife there can legitimately register your pregnancy with the State.
My experience: So a middle aged midwife (in the state hospital) scans through my test results, cross checking with the “handwritten” notebook from the clinic. Looks up to scan me, i don’t know why, several times during this process. Like I’m lying about being pregnant or something. My paperwork process outcome will be decided on the midwife’s mood of the day. If she’s in a bad mood she can easily just say my test results are not up to the policy required by the state and that I have to give certain tests AGAIN and there’s not a goddamn thing I can do about it.
Apparently my blood works were incomplete because she couldn’t make out the printed test results from Intermed so she just ruled them out as invalid. She insisted I give the same blood-works again in that hospital. I of course refused and asked her to call the Intermed hospital lab to ask for the test results to be interpreted. She immediately got even more pissed off, and told me that bringing comprehensible paperwork was my job.
So I went back to Intermed to have a written out interpretation from the doctor, who of course didn’t see patients without appointments, so I had to wait until the next day to get to see him…by which time he says, ” that’s so strange, it’s a very obvious test result, why does that doctor need a written interpretation?” to which I answer, “i don’t know, you want to call her?” (obviously in a bad mood).
So, then I go back to the state hospital and wait in line because it didn’t matter that you got a time slot at 11:00 and you were there at 10:45. There were 4 people in front of me who had gotten appointment times before me. So queue time it is. Not enough chairs. Just one long narrow hallway. It was noon and everyone’s goddamn lunchtime was going to start at 12:30.
Out comes every nurse, doctor, janitor, whoever, to go to lunch RIGHT ON TIME. Doors locked. Patients quietly wait.
I was damn hungry so I wasn’t going to wait in some dimly lit hallway with no airflow and no chairs with a bunch of other people coughing and sneezing (call me out on this, i don’t care) but I wasn’t gonna. So I walked over to my grandmother’s house, luckily isn’t far and ate some lunch there. Walked because I didn’t want to lost my parking space, that I fought over almost a block down the hospital…
Clock strikes 13:30. I go back to the goddamn hospital and wait in line. I sat there for a good one hour more until it was finally my turn. I go inside, and immediately the doctor recognizes me as the girl who gets checkups at a private hospital. This is another issue that doctors in public and private hospitals have with each other, or for that matter any other doctors’ prescription or diagnoses that is other than yours is and will mostly likely by wrong or absurd to your current doctor. It doesn’t matter if it’s maternity or at your dentists office.
So finally, much to her discontent I have all the papers to shut her up but she takes her own sweet time filling up the registration card though. She doesn’t care and at that point I didn’t care either. I’ve waited a while, might as well wait another 10 minutes for her to fill in 2 lines on that hand-written registration book like they probably did in the 1950s. No computers, no smart pads, nothing. Just hand written notebooks and paper files everywhere. This is the state registration system for you.
After all this issue comes another issue with getting your grant for maternity leave or to get monthly childcare grant from the state. Even though you’re rightfully obligated for it, as you’ve been honestly and dutifully paying your taxes, it doesn’t mean a rat’s ass when it comes to going through that process. Because everyone is legally obligated, everyone has been paying taxes, and everyone gets pregnant at some point in their life so even though the process should be smooth sailing and pretty self explanatory and simple, it isn’t. But that is a whole different topic and bureaucratic paperwork mess that I don’t want to get into right now because after running around like a crazy pregnant person between (see map below) private hospital (orange), state hospital (blue), clinic (pink), district administrations office (red) and bank (yellow), I didn’t get approved for maternity grant…so i guess screw all the taxes I’ve paid from my salary… more on the tax system paperwork craziness can be read here at your own expense.
But I did get approved for childcare grant at 50,000 MNT a month for a year. Not bad huh? Only because they really couldn’t deny that I was pregnant. It was just too real. So they had no choice but to approve. This money is a lot for many families out there. But to get it, well DAMN me. Maybe I don’t go through all this kind of process enough in my life to have gotten used to it. But the few times that I do, is enough for me to realize and stress heavily on how messed up this whole system is.
After all of this, no wonder we’re all diagnosed with SEVERE Braxton Hicks syndrome…
If you’ve stuck to reading this far, let me know any paperwork bureaucracy mess you’ve experienced here? Misery loves company 🙂
Not everyone’s pregnancy situation is like mine of course. But I just wanted to share a glimpse of what I went through. If you’re pregnant and wondering where to get good checkups done, I recommend Intermed hospital with they pregnancy care packages. I’ve never been pregnant in a different country so I’m not sure what other countries processes and limitations are, if you have interesting stories, feel free to share them in the comments! Love to hear some.