Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Austria-isms: Bagels, breasts and cream cheese...

 Diplo Repost: Can't wait to see what local remedies we pick up on this trip!

Now that we're getting quite close to diplo-baby's arrival (perhaps a little too close for comfort!), the delivery stories are coming out of the woodwork.  And as usual, I'm always shocked to learn about everything.   For example, if you need to have stitches, you won't be able to use toilet paper for awhile. WHAT? Also, nobody said anything about stitches.  But for those woefully in the dark like me, yes, they're what you think they're for, and trust me, you don't want to rip them out with aggressive cleaning techniques.  And for those who went the c-section route, there's the friend who with a calm voice and a straight face informed me that the anesthesia ran about about half-way through her disembowelment (which is what a c-section essentially is - also something no one told me).  Needless to say, I'm currently in the market for pregnancy-friendly tranquilizers to calm my nerves. 

But I thought I would share the story that really takes the cake - it's from a fellow expat friend who has been navigating through the adventures of Austrian living.  Despite the grandness of Vienna, and the fact that it's located west and not east of the Danube, it turns out that modern medicine here has plenty of room for a good, old-fashioned remedy. 

Now here is also the story I wanted to share wtih you, as I think you should be mentally prepared for what might be coming.   As you plan to nurse, you will know from the books that when the milk “appears”, the sensation can be uncomfortable.  My grandfather’s neighbor in the countryside in Belgium had dairy cows. If they did not get milked on time they started walking around mooing with crazed bulging eyes. That should tell you something.

Anyway around 2am on the second day after delivery, I woke up feeling like my chest would just explode.  As I do not have a large chest, this wasn't a feeling I am used to.  I went to the nursery where the night “Schwestern” are to be found, and complained because I felt like sharing I suppose, and also because I was hoping she could do something to help me. She fired back at me at top speed in German and I heard the word “topfen” (cream cheese). 

She walked to the refrigerator, and I thought to myself, "this is the problem with trying to explain myself in German in the middle of the night, she probably thinks I asked for a glass of milk and has none and is offering me cream cheese instead and I should have just stayed in my bed!"  

But then before I could excuse myself and apologize for whining she was back, had yanked open my hospital nightgown and was SMEARING CREAM CHEESE ON MY BREASTS. Following which she wrapped me up in cellophane. I was too stunned and tired to speak or defend myself. Turns out it was not a misunderstanding – it was an Austrian country recipe for  “alleviating the pain”. I suppose the sheer shock and then the general humiliation at being a walking bagel do distract one from the discomfort. I was too tired to do anything about it and just went back to bed and I will spare you the details of waking up in warm cream cheese and plastic wrap. On the positive side, our son was able to make his own contributions to pain alleviation the following morning, which ended up being a much more successful remedy.


  1. If you have not already done so...order yourself some Ameda Hydrogel pads ( not use with any creams. your nursing nipples will thank you.

  2. That is absolutely hysterical! I tried the cabbage leaves thing and a warm shower, but honestly, baby nursing was the only remedy that I think worked!


Thanks for sharing!

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