Having A Baby Abroad???

Have you ever simply thought of something and almost instantaneously the universe gives you answers?

This weekend a friend of mine was pondering out loud with me what it would be like to give birth abroad; I honestly have never really thought much of it but now the answers are everywhere.


Is this a form of manifestation???  
I believe it is.

An email came to me this morning from the Expat Exchange highlighting women’s experiences of having babies abroad – listing each country separately.  I found it extremely interested how each country varied even what a Brazilian had to say about birthing here.  
With my labor still fresh in my mind (11 weeks fresh) I realize how wonderful mine was.  I already knew I had a fantastic experience but reading these accounts just reinforces it.  
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How do you feel about foreign health care?  Would you be comfortable having a baby somewhere other than the United States?

What would that mean for the baby?  

Are you eligible to benefit from their health care policies being an American??

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Central and South America

Otavalo, Ecuador Labor and Delivery 
October 2011

[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…

I gave birth to my little baby girl in the main hospital in Otavalo, Ecuador. I had been told that in the clinics I could get better attention, but also that sometimes the doctors tell the women that they need C-Sections just because they earn more money from the surgery. I couldn’t afford the clinic costs and the hospital is free, so I decided to go there. What I encountered was a large room full of women waiting to have their babies, separated by thin sheets and a few midwives and nurses running between each sector to assist the women. No pain medication is given in the hospital, so it was all natural. When women are at the point of given birth they’re led to the surgery room which, thankfully, only allows one woman at a time. I was given the choice to give birth laying down, sitting up or standing, as many of the indigenous Ecuadorian women do. The whole experience was hard and long, but as far as the attention at the hospital I was taken care of pretty well. The only unsettling part was the shared labor room where we all waited until we were far enough along in the labor to give birth. Hearing a dozen screaming women all around you is a bit unpleasant. I gave birth to my baby girl in the afternoon, stayed the night in a room with 2 other new mothers, then went home the next morning.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

Since I was in the hospital, my midwife chose me, I think. It was an elderly indigenous woman who periodically gave me hot herbal teas, blew on my forehead and rubbed my back. It was a little strange, since I’m American and definitely not from their culture. But being in labor with heavy contractions it’s hard to complain.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I would like to go to a clinic next time, since the whole “public” experience in the hospital was very crowded and had very little privacy. It was a clean place and I was pretty well attended, but I would rather go somewhere more private next time, even if I have to save up for it.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Insist on taking a tour of the places where you could possibly have your child. Even if they refuse, (it’s not Ecuadorian culture to allow tours in hospitals) try your best to see everything first and understand the conditions before your decision. All public hospitals offer free service for deliveries and C-sections, but since it’s free they’re usually packed with people. Be prepared ahead of time with everything you will need, but keep a close eye on what you bring in and what’s going on around you. Things like baby shampoo, soap, a towel, and clothes are a MUST, because public hospitals won’t provide any of it. If you don’t bring soap or a towel, you will go home with a dirty baby with wet clothes because you had to dry it off with them. If you go to a clinic, be sure to know the circumstances of your labor and if it’s absolutely necessary to have a C-Section if the doctor suggests it, because many have been deceived into the operation unnecessarily because it costs more than a normal delivery. Many doctors are just looking for more money. I’m not sure about the clinics in other cities, but at least in Otavalo, pain medication isn’t given in clinics or in the hospital. Be prepared.]

Bogota, Colombia Labor and Delivery
2012

[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…

The two hospitals we were recommended were Clinica del Contry and Fundaction Santa Fe. We chose Fundaction Santa Fe because the doctor we liked was associated with FSF.
I ended up having to have a C-section because of preeclampsia, so I can’t speak to the process for a vaginal delivery. During the hospital tour I had (before I knew I’d be having a C-section), We saw the delivery area. They have separate rooms for labor, delivery and recovery. The labor rooms seemed small, but were private. The delivery area is kept separate for hygiene, and the recovery room was a shared rooms with several beds. There was also a LDR, where you can do all three in one place, with a private shower, but there’s only one, so if it’s already in use you are out of luck.
I was in the hospital for four days total. The first two days I was a shared room with two other people. It was difficult to sleep and the cabinets with the supplies were next to my bed, so there was a lot of traffic. There was a chair for my husband, but they didn’t bring cots for family members. The second two days I was in the maternity ward in a private room with a shower and toilet. It was much more comfortable. They have rooming-in in the maternity ward, but my son was in the NICU so I didn’t get to experience that. The rooms in the maternity ward have a fold-out chair that my husband slept in one night, but he didn’t sleep well, so we didn’t repeat that.
The biggest problem was the pain after my surgery. It took a long time (three hours, I think) to get them to bring me the morphine – it was geting to the point that I was shivering and my teeth were chattering from the pain. My husband had to threaten to complain to the on-duty nurse’s supervisor. We were later told that Colombian hospitals are overly conservative with pain medications because they are afraid of getting people addicted.
Our son was in the NICU for a month. The staff was great, but it’s not like a NICU in the States – there are no armchairs, and you can’t just hold the baby whenever you want. I didn’t get to hold my son until he was 8 days old. They don’t allow wheelchairs in, so if you can’t walk, you can’t go see the baby (I couldn’t walk until day three). Everyone has to leave when they are checking in a new baby or if they are doing procedures, so it’s really unpredictable whether you’ll actually get to spend time with the baby. Some days we were there for four or five hours but only got to see the baby for 30 minutes or so.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

My husband works for the Embassy, so we went off the list of recommended doctors that they gave us.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

No, I don’t think so. There were things I wish had been different, but one only has so much control over such situations.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, I would recomment returning to the States. The NICU staff at FSF are great, but if our son had been born much earlier, he would have needed to medevac to the States, where the equipment and medical technology are better. They were fine for his condition, but the NICU chief told us that if the babies are smaller than two pounds, it’s more difficult for them, whereas in the States one-pound babies often do just fine.
Also, make sure if you deliver in Colombia that you have your husband advocating for you.]

San Jose, Costa Rica Labor and Delivery

2014

[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…

I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy here is San Jose, Costa Rica. I couldn’t have had a better experience. I have a 3 year old daughter who was born in the states and with her I had to have a C-section. I really wanted to try and have a natural birth with my son, and most doctors will not even discuss that option with you after you have had a C-section. My doctor here at least let me give it a try, it did not happen but he was willing. I had my son at Clinical Biblica in downtown San Jose. After a C-section I left the hospital the very next day and my healing only took 2 weeks and I was back in the gym. It was amazing!! With my daughter it was a horrible recovery and it took weeks. The care I received from everyone was the best. I do not speak Spanish yet, but they were patient with me, and everything went better than I could have hoped for.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

I decided on Clinical Biblica from word of mouth, and after having my first visit there was very comfortable.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

No, everything went great.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

My doctor…….Dr. Salazar Mora]

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Pacific

Sydney, Australia Labor and Delivery
October 2006
[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…
I had a baby at The Mater Hospital in North Sydney. It was a wonderful experience but very different from having a baby in the US – which is where I am from. People in Australia take maternity/birth very seriously and want to make sure you have the best available resources available to you. I had a scheduled C-Section and was in the hospital for 7 days (2 extra days due to my son having jaundice). The Mater is a private hospital, which was nice and I think we got more attention being it was private. The only downfall I would say is that they are very pro breastfeeding, which is great, but if there are problems, you feel like a failure using formula.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

My doctor came highly recommended from one of my husband’s business contacts. My husband was in the medical equipment business for ob/gyns.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

Nothing different!

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

To enjoy it and know you are in good hands!]
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Europe

Rome, Italy Labor and Delivery
2013
[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…
It was really positive experience. I gave birth to my daughter to one of the largest public hospitals of Rome – Gemelli and I definitely recommend it to everybody. It is free, delivery room is private and huge with a toilet and shower etc. There was 5 members of the staff with me, including 2 students on practice. Everyone was really nice, caring and professional. As I had a spontaneous birth-giving, I couldn’t use any anesthesia, so no experience there. But a couple of weeks before, I had a meeting with anesthesiologist in the same hospital, signed all the papers, and had all things explained, really useful. Almost all doctors there are English-speaking, such a relief! The maternity rooms are semi-private, with a toilet and the shower, and the nursery is next-door. They taking the babies away only for the tests and for the night, from 12 till 6, but if you’ll ask, the nurses will leave the baby with you the whole night. The nurses are professional and helpful, you can always ask for the help in changing, brest-feeding etc.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

Word of mouth is a key in Italy. Ask me if you need a good English-speaking gynecologist or pediatrician.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

Absolutely the same. In fact, I’m already doing it.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Don’t waste your time and money on private clinics. Maybe they will have nicer looking reception and not so many people waiting, but the best professionals are working in large state hospitals, best equipment end supplies are there either. One of my friends had a horrible experience in one of the most popular private clinics – Artemisia.]

 Leiden, Holland Labor and Delivery
[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…
In the Netherlands if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy you can choose to give birth at home or in a hospital. I had high blood pressure so I had to give birth in a hospital. Women here do not receive an epidural unless the doctor or midwife thinks you need it. Natural childbirth is the norm here and that’s what I had. Since my son was born almost 4 weeks early we both stayed in the hospital for 2 nights. Normally women go home very soon after the birth, within a few hours or so. I did have a positive experience but I would have liked an epidural! The great thing about the Netherlands is that you get home help after the baby is born. A specially trained home healthcare worker came to my house for 8 days, 6 hours a day. She helped take care of the baby, showed us how to take care of the baby and did housework! She was especially helpful with breast feeding!

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

Unless you have a complication it is normal to see a midwife for prenatal care here. I chose a midwife a friend had used.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I didn’t find the prenatal classes that helpful so I might try to find a better class.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Try not to worry about labor pain. You will get through it even without an epidural!]

Paris, France Labor and Delivery
2013
[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…
I have given birth in two different countries (Mexico 3 years ago & France 1 year ago) with two different philosophies.
The Mexico experience was by far, the best. Customer service from both my OB/GYN and the hospital was 5-star. However, episiotomy was nearly “required”.
France was a little more bumpy…difficult to find a place to give birth. Paris is over-run with children so you must reserve a hospital or clinic for your due date the second you find out your pregnant or you risk giving birth on your own. Nevertheless, good experience overall.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

Mexico: Recommendation from other friends.
France: Step 1: Choose clinic/hospital you want to give birth in. Step 2: If you OB/GYN doesn’t deliver there, get a recommendation for one who does. Step 3: Don’t give birth in August (I did which made it nearly impossible to find a doctor who wasn’t on vacation; I had to switch 3 times during my pregnancy!).

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

Mexico: No, would go back to have another child there.
France: Find a doctor I like better.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

See all of the above.]

Hamburg, Germany Labor and Delivery
2000
[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…
I went to a hospital (Krankenhaus) close to our apartment in the heart of Hamburg. I had a wonderful birthing experience despite communication difficulties.
A brief outline of my experience:
The hospitals in Germany are often a series of different buildings instead of one huge building which is often the case in the USA.
This was my first birth so we weren’t sure if I was really in labor (of course, subsequent births have proven to me that even experience never prepares you entirely – every birth is unique). We took the bus to the hospital and the nurses checked me and said I was at a 3 and they would keep me.
I ended up walking around the Kreissal (birthing section) for most the night. When my contractions were stronger they had me rest in a Wehen (contraction) room. I was mostly forgotten because it was a Sunday and other women needed the nurses and midwives more than I did. I was supposed to get a tea, but it never came. I remember being ticked off about it at the time, but now I think it’s funny.
One thing you should know is that midwives run the show in the labor and delivery section of a German hospital. The doctor will come when the baby is “caught” and watch-but that is the extent of it. Also, the OBGYN that I saw didn’t deliver me. Basically you go to the hospital and are treated by the midwives and OBGYNs that are there. This is not necessarily a bad thing. My midwife was great.
When I was a six the midwife came and asked if I needed something for the pain. I said yes, thinking I was going to get an epidural. No epi. If you want an epi make SURE you ask for a PDA. I did not, and because my birth appeared normal, I was not asked if I wanted one. They did give me some kind of pain relief, but it didn’t last long.
After the wehen room we were walked to the delivery room. I liked that in this hospital everything was muted but not kitschy. They did have a waterbirth pool but they told me it was “broken” (umm…I’ve always wondered about this. I think they were just understaffed because it was a weekend). In the delivery room were all kinds of things to help the process of labor-birth balls and a rope to hang from, birthing stools. Being an American from a mother who always used epis I had no idea what to do with those things (ended up laying down on the bed – dumb, but I didn’t know any better). Now I realize how progressive this hospital was.
SO – I had my baby and felt it all without epidural. And guess what? I lived through it and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The midwives I had in Germany were top notch. I loved being able to walk after I’d given birth, and the swoosh of pure energy – not numbed by sedatives or epidural. Also, they didn’t cut me! Woohoo. I did have a minor tear, but it healed so well I was able to have sex after three weeks.
They also NEVER rushed me. They gave us over an hour in the delivery room with our baby and put my dd on my chest after she came out. They let us stay like that for a long time and even left the room so we could bond as a family, let me nurse her right away, and never whisked her away to a nursery to bathe her or take pictures. They showed me my placenta and the midwife even hugged and kissed me! It was the best. I had subsequent births in the US and they were not as neat -even though the last was with a midwife and without meds as well.
On to recovery! We were wheeled out of the labor and delivery room and went to the recovery area. It was a huge room with red geraniums and classic large German windows. Because I wasn’t privately insured I had to share my room with 3 other women. That got annoying when all the babies screamed at once.
Rooming in with your baby is expected and I was also expected to do everything myself. When I asked to sleep alone hours after the birth the midwife who took care of me stared at me as if I was crazy (or maybe a whiny Ami). I changed my dd’s diapers, checked her temperature and bilubrin levels, and made sure everything was noted on a sheet they had in the nursery (I think we had to check for stool and urine too – see if baby was fed enough). The midwives would help watch the babies occasionally, but no one served me my meals. If meal time came and I didn’t go to the hallway and get it – I didn’t eat. They served us great food – huge portions. Every morning we were offered nursing tea. A lactation specialist did see me, but I couldn’t talk to her very well because I had only been in Germany a year at the time.
A typical hospital stay for labor and birth in 2000 was 7 days. I stayed the full time, but now I know they have “ambulante” birth-you can leave the hospital the same day if you request to do so. Overall I would give it a thumbs up. Of course, you can get the full American treatment if you have private insurance.
We are living in Germany again and I am considering having a fourth child. But this time I’m going to get a midwife who will catch the baby at home.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

An expat friend who is also married to a German referred me to a great doctor in the city section of Eppendorf. Insurance paid for everything then. It even paid for birth classes taught by the midwife who visited me for a week after my birth. She came to check up on me, see how breast feeding was going, etc. This is a great system – it helped save my nursing efforts (not to mention my poor breasts) and I will always be grateful for this womans knowledge and expertise. Hopefully this all won’t change too drastically with the new insurance reforms here in Deutschland.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I’m confident enough now that I would elect to have my baby at home. My insurance will pay for it. Also, this way I could have the same midwife practitioner from the beginning.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Go check out the hospitals in your area – they usually have nights where they show parents the facilities. Stay away from University clinics and hospitals. My experience is that they are not as nice and full of gawking medical students (just like the USA). Yuck. Try to go to a childbirth class and arrange a midwife to visit after the birth. And I would also suggest securing a doula, either informally with a friend, or find out if a woman with childbirth knowledge could attend with you.
Last, be open to different ways of experiencing birth. Germany is much more holisitic and even mainstream doctors are apt to prescribe tea or homeopathic medicine for an ailment. Try it. You might be suprised.]

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United States

Florida, United States Labor and Delivery
2007

[Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc…

I went to the hospital after my water broke. I checked in at 3:40 AM. The staff was very friendly but I did not have much saying in anything. They gave me pitocin without even asking me and when I asked for the epidural they said that I needed to hydrated first. it turned out that I did not get one and the baby was born at 5:27Am through vaginal delivery. I was sent home 2 days later. They did not encourage brestfeeding at all, for no particular reason as the baby was normal and I was fine, too. They gave me a bag with formula and other treats from Nestle and sent me home. The experience was good. My baby is healthy. I missed the warmth of my Brazilian culture though.

How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

She as refered by a friend, and she was very nice. She has a Latin background.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I am not gonna a have a second child in this country.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Have your baby in Brazil if you can.]

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