This afternoon I attended the opening party for Parents’ Place, a center for parents and their children opened by good friend — and another Taiwanxifu — Angela.
Angela is a certified doula and childbirth educator, and in her role she has helped empower many women in Taiwan — especially expatriates who do not speak Chinese and might otherwise find the medical system daunting — to have beautiful and meaningful birthing experiences.
Many of Angela’s clients kept telling her the same thing: they found it hard to meet other people with young families in Taiwan. New mothers wanted to be more connected, with expatriate mothers finding it especially difficult to meet other Mums and Bubs. Perhaps the absence of a visible presence for infants is because most Taiwanese mothers tend to be cloistered within their own family after childbirth as they ‘sit through the month’. Then they often go back to work sooner than they might like. And 老外 (lai wai — foreigners) no longer live in just the Tienmu district of Taipei, but are now spread throughout the city (and other areas of Taiwan).
Parent’s Place provides a relaxed meeting place for parents and their kids. They will hold a range of classes, including birthing classes, prenatal and postpartum exercise, infant massage, baby signing, Kindermusik, language (English and Mandarin), creative dance, and martial arts for kids from English-speaking backgrounds. Several of the classes are taught by other Taiwanxifus including Katrina from Kidzone-tw (yes, there are actually several of us Taiwanxifu around). And at the opening, my son enjoyed playing with the crowd of other cross-cultural kids who have grown up switching naturally between speaking both English and Chinese.
As an aside, I cannot speak highly enough of the role of a doula. Mr Taiwanxifu and I were fortunate to have a doula guide us with the birth of our little boy, now an active toddler who turns two this week. My son was born two months’ prematurely, before we had done any birthing classes, on a long weekend in an unfamiliar hospital overwhelmed with unexpected emergency deliveries. Mr Taiwanxifu was a rock of support, as was our wonderful doula who provided information and reassurance — both during and after the birth. Partly as a result of choosing a doula, I was a rarity: a mother of a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit who did not have a caesarean. And my natural birth was a celebration, achieved without any pain relief medication. Nor am I the only success story as statistics show that, while using a doula is no guarantee that things will go according to schedule, the presence of a doula can reduce the likelihood of a caesarean delivery by 12 per cent, and the need for an epidural by 11 per cent.
Parents’ Place is on the second floor of Chenggong Road Section 4, Neihu (內湖區,成功路4段), within a short walk of the Neihu MRT station. It is currently open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 0930 to 1200. Angela advises to call beforehand to check opening times on 097 066 9040.