Congratulation! Where’s the tea?

Giving birth in Riyadh is… Something. I have done it 4 times and by the 4th time I was finally prepared for the saga that is giving birth in Riyadh, it’s not so much the giving birth actually, it’s what happens after thats the ordeal.

If you are a westerner then generally preparing to go to the hospital includes packing a bag with things you will need and the baby will need. Maybe packing a pillow as well. Simple. Giving birth here is a whole other story. Below is the to do list I wrote before I gave birth:

1) prepare serving plates for chocolates (to offer guests when they come visit)
2) choose chocolates to fill plates.
3) choose and prepare tea and coffee cups (to use for visiting guests in hospital)
4) arrange for sandwiches to come from relatives houses (again for guests when it gets late and they get hungry. Other people have full on dinner parties in the hospital but we keep it simple with a sandwich tray)
5) prepare linens for the hospital bed. (when staying in hospital after giving birth we never use the hospital linen instead I like to use my own. Some people take this to an extreme level and actually bring in their own furniture, carpets, have themes, dinner tables etc. it’s so much fun to peek into other peoples rooms when I’m in the maternity ward!)
6) buy keepsakes to hand out to people when they are leaving (as a little “thank you for visiting”. I like to steer away from overly personalised gifts because not everyone wants to display something with my childs name on it. I like to go for practical things like pill boxes, prayer beads etc)
7) organise people from my relatives houses to serve tea and coffee to guests (usually don’t use anyone from my house because they have the kids to help with and are up really early)
8) organise the tea and coffee to be delivered in thermoses (who’s house are we getting it from, who’s responsible for bringing it, who will take it back at night?)

Hospital bag:
1- comfy pyjamas to sleep in.
2- nice pyjamas and robes for when the guests visit (last couple of deliveries I kept the comfy pj’s on and wore a fancy robe over them.)
3- perfumes
4- toiletries
5- baby clothes
6- fancier baby clothes for when people visit (last couple of deliveries I didn’t bother with this,just made sure I had a nice blanket and left baby in regular pyjamas.)
8- chargers and electronics
9- my pillows (hospital pillows suck! And are always plasticky and make my head sweat.)

So, while I’m giving birth the dedicated person (usually the same one person who I am so grateful to for helping me withe every aspect of these preparations every time and I am thankful and grateful to her for it and will inshallah one day return the favour!) is rushing around getting all these things to the hospital and setting it all up.

Now if I’m really lucky I can get a room and an adjoining living room, meaning I get a break from the guests to feed the baby or go to the bathroom or just get out of bed! If I’m unlucky (and I was once and it was hell) there isn’t an adjoining room so from around 7pm till midnight I am stuck in bed receiving visitors without having the chance to move or go to the bathroom or feed. Although I feed the baby regardless of who’s there honestly. If they’re uncomfortable they are more than welcome to leave.

As I said the guests start to come around 7pm usually, except my grandmothers side of the family are daytime people, so sometimes I am receiving visitors from the afternoon onwards. Around 5 pm it’s shower time and changing time. I try to stay out of bed as much as possible during the day because of the confinement that comes later on. Although this doesn’t sit well with the older generation. When I has my first born my husbands grandfather came to visit during the day and I happened to be in the restroom when he arrived. When I finished I walked back into the room and walked to where he was sitting and kissed him the felt like a total idiot walking back to the bed and climbing in so I sat next to him. He kept asking me to get back into bed and looked at me like I was insane!

When the guests first start coming its quite nice. They sit and chat and you see people you may not have seen for ages. Extended family, distant relatives, friends I may not have seen for ages, everyone I know and anyone who cares about me or my mother or my grandparents or my husband or his family, they all come and it’s lovely.

But a little later on, around 9-9.30 when most of the guests come is when it gets mind numbing. The room fills up and people start chatting and they generally tend to forget to chat to the poor woman sitting in bed (me). Then soon the ladies serving the chocolates and the drinks forget to serve the poor woman in the bed (me). Then, if it gets late and the noise level rises, it becomes an effort to keep my eyes open! And I wonder, of I do sleep how long till they notice?

Finally, around 11.30 – 12 only the closest people remain and I can move my stiff legs and get out of bed. Now in order to understand why the restriction on movement you have to know that in my mothers days, when a woman gave birth, she would be expected not to move out of bed for the first 40 days. The fear was that her insides are too fragile and that if she moves too much she may have permanent damage. So even when a woman would leave hospital she would receive guests at home in her bed. Thank God this is no longer the case. I agree that a woman needs to take it easy but bed rest for 40 days is overkill.

After everyone has left and I have eaten and changed and spent at least a hour moving around out of bed it’s time to get back in! This process is repeated 3-5 days then I get to go home! The reason some people stay longer in the hospital is to avoid any visitors coming to the house. If they come to the hospital they tend to not stay so long, but at the house there’s no time limit to how long they stay so we try and avoid that at all cost,

During this whole time a new mother is fed many different things that range for absolutely yummy and fattening to absolutely sickening! The yummy things are usually the ones to help with breast feeding and the yucky are the ones to help with what comes after giving birth.

Recently I have heard the term “pushing gift” referring to a gift the mother gets after giving birth. This has been a custom here for ever as far as I know and a good one in my personal opinion! The husband get the wife a gift after each birth. A well deserved gift! One that will never compare to the gift of a child that she has given him of course but it doesn’t mean he can’t try!

Now what I described is solely based on what happens in my family and usually most of my friends. But I know, I have heard stories, of others who give birth, are left to rest without visitors and about 3 days after,or sometimes on a day of the mothers choosing, people one by at her house for A short time to congratulate her.

How is it after you have given birth? Do people visit in the hospital? At home? Do you give any keepsakes?


  1. Thank you for sharing! I realized that there are lot of similarities in the ‘protocol and etiquette’ of receiving visitors after giving birth as compared to when being a longer term patient in the hospital too!

    • Its a difficult thing really. On one hand its fantastic to know so many people care and their company makes everything so much better but on the other hand you are not in control of your day or what happens during it.

  2. Your blog has LIFE !! and I love it :)
    The system your side is much more elaborate then what we have in India and to think I thought India was crazy to have these hospital bedside customs :D

    Waiting for more writing to come from your side :) :) :) :)

      • Hi there !
        In India, one thing that most young couples like to strictly adhere to is no visitors in the hospitals ! The fancy new age hospitals seriously discourage visitors as they disturb the baby and mom :)
        At home, the woman who has just given a birth, is supposed to stick to bed when visits happen. The new parents are strongly disinclined to let some one touch their children. Or, incase you DO NEED to touch the baby, you are strongly suggested to sanitize the hands :) (This gets very offensive for older generation).

        Male visitors just come in, say hello to the baby and give regards to the new mommy and walk out of the mommy room in great relief ….. they feel they have done a great arduous task :)
        The women visitors, all flank the poor new mom and give her all kinds of advises and each claims bigger success then the other …. lots of competition there.
        There is a good amount of food serving for guests while the mom is told that all that food is not good for her… she needs to stick to milk generating healthy food…. this used to be a big annoyance for my sister :D
        The paternal grandmother of the baby keeps sitting like a queen presiding over her court of visitors and preening. She tells every one who will listen that she is a very forward looking woman… she is happy for the grand child, the gender carries no weightage (In fact, it matters a big deal. If she has had a grand son, she can afford to be magnanimous :D )
        India still has a big fetish for grandsons ….

  3. SOunds like what they do in my husbands family too :) When we visited one woman recently, I was so surprised to see this mother, a day after giving birth sitting there in her bed lined with lace and satin linen, dressed in a matching outfit holding the baby, which also matched everything! Oh and she had blow dried hair and perfect make-up on too. The room was full of flowers and hundreds of chocolates!
    Honestly she looked exhausted from the visitors and nobody really talked to her, the baby was passed around the room wrapped up really tight. Was a strange experience indeed!

    I am hoping to avoid this family tradition ;) I rather have the guests later, but will see how it goes this time!

    In Finland it’s only the grandparents and closest family and friends that pop in to see the baby, the moms are in the hospital gowns in shared rooms and it’s all very simple. They bring flowers and maybe some chocolate for the mom ONLY :)
    Other people will usually see the baby first time at the baptism or name giving party, about 2 months afterwards.

  4. I loved that account of how we deliver. When I look back now I cringe at what I must have looked like on arrival to the hospital. The second time, with N, was no doubt the worst. My mother, me and my hubby, my son B, my best friend and I am sure there was someone else I just can’t remember. We had two hotel like trollies laden with boxes, chocolates, suitcases, (a bag of presents for Boodi from his new baby sister) and loads of other stuff, it was shameful. On top of all of this stuff I had brought, my mother had a box of bottled water, 3 silver trays, and an empty serving box, why you ask, I have no clue looooool. My room wasn’t ready, I was nervous, it was hot, and Ihad been fasting for god knows how many hours and wanted to drink the ocean dry, not that there was one, but you get the picture. Oh did I forget, Bedding!! and yes I took pillows too. Women in england turn up to hospital with a tiny weeny bag, its disgusting how much stuff we have to take or can’t do with out. And once we are there, J, my darling husband, sorts out and takes stuff back in drips and drabs all through out my stay in hospital. and we still end up going home in three cars, and usually takes a few trips. Oh did I forget the keep sakes!! with all three children I gave away small Qurans that had a silver outer casing to protect them, such a nice idea I thought at the time as I figured no one would throw them away, but bloody hell did 100 of them weigh a lot. Al hamdillah, I would do it all again I am sure. As for visitors, once people saw that I was about to feed, they soon made them selves scarce, Not sure why it makes some people uncomfortable, but honestly I didn’t care, Baby came first, and I was not going to compromise feeding for guests. Having said that most people I know know this about me so were well prepared for all the lovely sucking noises loooool

  5. This is why I do not send an SMS informing people i had the baby until I have LEFT the hospital.. I really can’t be bothered to have people I barely ever see come see me in a hospital bed :D I reserve that right for the people that are always in my life.. and are actually close friends… :D I went to visit one of my friends int eh hospital.. and the poor girl just had a C-Secton.. and had to sit up all smiles and presentable for the guests that would sit and sit and sit… I am of the folks that will visit someone… drop in.. say hi.. and leave.. I don’t believe n extended visits to a women who had just pushed a baby out.. or hat gotten sliced open! ahhh.. ok.. let me shut up.. lol….B.. I am totally excited to be sitting here reading your blog again! it is one of my favorites… so pls continue <3

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.