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Anyone else pregnant in USA? I'm freaking out.

(35 Posts)
UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 19:26:26

Hi everyone
This is my first time posting on mumsnet. I'm British but recently moved to the US (husband has an American passport). Just found out I'm pregnant- we weren't expecting it to happen so fast (first month I stopped taking my birth control). We are happy but I'm freaking out about having a baby in the US. I don't have many friends here yet and none of them have had a baby. Most of my friends back in the UK have had babies already (we are all in early 30s/late 20s) so all the stories I know are from the UK.

The US seems really...different. I have to see "my" OBGYN (who I've never actually met as only moved here a few months ago) as there aren't really any midwives in my area. Have an appointment for my 8th week to see the practice nurse then a week later for a scan, but they wouldn't book me anything before then. Apparently that's normal but until then I can only get advice on what to avoid eating, if I can workout, still drink coffee etc from the internet which seems a bit weird.

Am I not supposed to get someone to check that I actually am pregnant? I did two different tests but I kind of don't believe it because it was so fast. Should I check somehow?

I'm really nervous about how medical it is here too- I've heard everyone (or like 70%) has epidurals and there is no gas and air. No midwives. I don't know what kind of birth I want yet but I'm nervous..but very happy and excited too.

Would love to hear from others who are pregnant or gave birth in the US.

Tribblewithoutacause Wed 16-Mar-16 19:31:13

So where abouts are you based? There may be some independent midwives in your area who could do your care and birth. Also, you don't have to have a medicalised birth. You can say no to things.

It's fairly standard in the UK, to not have anything else booked until after your booking appointment and scan.

Is there anything you need to know particularly?

BertieBotts Wed 16-Mar-16 19:32:42

Congratulations smile

I think it's pretty standard not for anyone to check. Home pregnancy tests are very reliable. In the UK you wouldn't normally see a midwife until 10 weeks. Make sure you start taking folic acid ASAP, though.

I think it's true that birth in the USA can be more medicalised than in the UK but it's not all doom and gloom. There is a large natural birth movement and you could almost definitely find support for that if yts what you want.

Do you have health insurance? I would imagine that's the first thing to get sorted.

daisydalrymple Wed 16-Mar-16 19:42:22

When you say about somebody 'checking' whether you're pregnant, Am in the UK, but nobody actually 'checked' I was pregnant, I rang up, said I was and was booked in to the system.

If you've POAS, there's hardly any room for error if it's positive- false positives do happen but are fairly rare, so on that point it's probably normal for HCPs to take your word you're pregnant.

Im of no use on the other points, not knowing the U.S. system, but many congratulations. The pregnancy boards / ante natal threads are full of good advice and support, and you can always check for reliable guidance if it would reassure you to know what the procedure would be here as a bench mark say.

Relax rest and enjoy as much as you can!

UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 20:07:45

Hi BertieBotts and Tribblewithoutacause

Thank you both so much for your replies! I do have insurance- it's not the best though so we will have to pay some out of pocket until the deductible is met, but with the affordable care act they do have to give free pregnancy care appointments and scans (not birth though!) so that's good.

I'm in California. There is one midwife centre in my area but it's not covered by my insurance- it's very swanky, a few celebs have given birth there haha! Sadly in my area the hospitals got rid of all their midwives. In some states in the US it is even illegal to have a home birth and midwives can be sent to jail for that (not that I want a home birth for my first one). Madness! I have just checked and my local hospital is "baby friendly' though- good to know! It means they let you keep your baby with you instead of taking it away to a big "nursery"- which is the norm here.

I've just been doing a bit of googling and apparently a lot of people hire doolas around here- someone to stick up for you if you want a natural birth. I guess in the UK it's the opposite sometimes- people don't always get epidurals when they want them. I guess I'll get to that part in due course, I don't know what I'll do I just don't like the thought of being pressured into something.

I don't know if they have anything like nct classes here but I'm presuming (hoping!) they do.

Oh dear, sorry for such a long post! I don't have anyone else to talk to ha! I'm not sure if there's anything I particularly need to know right now, I'm just not sure what is "normal". I've looked up all the foods and things to avoid, the receptionist at the clinic said I can still do yoga and barre classes.. but I'm nervous of "disturbing" something. They are very hardcore in yoga/barre classes here!

I've also been job hunting as I've been unemployed since we moved here. Not sure what to do now as pregnant women don't have a lot of rights in the US , unfortunately.

UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 20:09:32

Thank you daisydalrymple! I guess I was just worrying it wasn't real haha! I'm glad to know that people don't normally get it double checked though. Reading the NHS site is a good idea as I don't know what the equivalent would be here.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Mar-16 20:26:54

California v. good for more "hippy" type things so should be fairly OK to find classes, midwife, doula if you want.

I recommend looking at or, they are like American mumsnet except babycenter is a bit netmumsish and mothering is v hippy. Have a look. LOTS of info online. Don't be scared!

I would have a quiet word with your yoga and barre instructors - they might recommend a gentler course. Normally advice about exercise is you should continue with the rate of intensity you're used to, but not start anything more intense.

Canyouforgiveher Wed 16-Mar-16 20:28:41

I've had 3 children in the USA and the level of care was excellent. Midwife-led care is far rarer than in the UK although is available some places. I wouldn't stress too much about it. If you are seeing an obgyn, most of the time you will be checked/talked to by a nurse.

Unless things have changed (and they may have) you will only be offered one scan. Friends in UK and Ireland seemed to have way more scans than I did.

No one gets a pregnancy test at a doctor's anymore I think - the over the counter ones are now so accurate.

Baby in the room was the norm when I gave birth 15 years ago so doubt if it has moved to nurseries in the meantime as that is far more expensive for hospitals. Be careful what you wish for though. It was bliss to have the nurses offer to take the baby for a few hours so I could get some sleep the first night.

In general US obgyns and hospitals are extremely supportive of breastfeeding - you will be offered support in hospital and there is a far greater cultural expectation that you will nurse for a year in my experience.

Get your dh to ask colleagues etc for recommendations about obgyns and paediatricians (your baby will be under the care of a paediatrician, not a GP as a general rule and will be seen regularly for vaccinations/well baby checks etc.

Also go to your local thrift store and buy a couple of books about pregnancy etc.

To be honest, OP, you don't sound like you like the US very much yet. I can understand that the move is hard at first but it gets better when you accept that they do things differently but not necessarily worse than back home. If you want it to be the same, you will be disappointed, but if you realise there will be good and bad differences, it will be easier. It is also hard being pregnant away from home so take care of yourself.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Mar-16 20:49:57

I think it's fairly normal to not necessarily feel very at home in a new country not long after you've moved! I don't think it means she doesn't like it or hasn't given it a chance. You're bound to gravitate towards familiarity especially in the early days. It's just part of the transition to a new place.

Canyouforgiveher Wed 16-Mar-16 20:52:25

I know that Bertie- I was once a new emigrant. I was advising her that it is easier if you accept that things will be different - not different bad, just different. In some ways I think it is harder to adjust in US from UK or Ireland because there isn't a language barrier like in other countries and the culture is very familiar from tv/movies/books so you keep thinking it will be like home but in fact it is radically different in many ways.

UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 21:00:22

Thanks BertieBotts! I'm going to barre tonight with my (only? haha) friend, so going to arrive a bit earlier and ask the instructor if there are any modifications I should do as we still want to keep it as "secret" as possible.

Hi Canyouforgiveher Thanks for you reply. I'm really glad you had great pregnancy care here- and for three as well- that's good to know. Ahh yeah, I think it differs by state, even by area, as a lot of the local hospitals around here still do the nursery thing. My nearest one though is very proud to be "baby friendly" and to keep the baby in the room. They have a big bit about it on the website haha! You're right though, I might end up hoping for the opposite ha!

There are a lot of things I like about the US, but unfortunately all the ones I hate are the ones that apply to me right now like medical insurance, maternity leave/rights etc . Not that I have a now job for the last one and I'm not sure whether to keep looking or not now. Saying that, the hospitals here really are very nice and I've no doubt I will get good care. Like you say, it's just different and because all my friends gave birth in the UK I can only compare it to that. I'm sure I'll feel better once I have my first appointment and get used to it.

BertieBotts Wed 16-Mar-16 21:01:55

I did get that Canyou, I just felt like you came across a bit critical which perhaps wasn't entirely fair, I think it's quite natural to be a bit panicky in OP's situation and I'm sure it will get easier with time. And v normal to make comparisons, not something to worry about, that's all I meant.

Farandole Wed 16-Mar-16 21:13:38

OP congratulations!!! How exciting.

You will get much better maternity care in the US than you would in the UK - so rejoice! And don't diss epidurals, they are great 😊.

AngharadTheSplendid Wed 16-Mar-16 21:31:56

Ooh me me! raises hand

I'm too am a west-coast based preggers Brit. I also had my first baby here last year. My care has been absolutely fantastic. I see an OB instead of a midwife but she has 40 years experience and I feel in safer hand with her than I would with a midwife back home.

There's no gas and air and i did have an epidural last time (and it was amazing, I had a wonderful birth despite being induced) but I want to stress that that was very much my decision. The nurses were my little cheerleading squad trying to get me to try going in the jacuzzi for pain relief etc - they were really keen for me to go natural.

Agree medical insurance is confusing and different, just to give you a ballpark I think each if my appointments were about $50, then my OB final bill was $700 and 3-day hospital stay (in luxury private suites) was $1700. I had 12 week, 20 week and 35 week scans (the last one I think was unusual though just because I had gestational diabetes).

Enjoy every minute, if you have good insurance its a fantastic place to have a baby. (in fact we want 3 or 4 so I'm trying to squeeze then out in quick succession so I can have them all here - we plan to move home in a few years). Ask away if you have any questions!

AngharadTheSplendid Wed 16-Mar-16 21:37:34

Seconding that you will get amazing support to breastfeed, my LO was 3 weeks early and a nightmare with her latch as she was so little - but I had endless lactation consultants/experts coming in to help me in hospital and after, with breast pumps, nipple shield, techniques, advice etc etc they were determined to help me make it work and i truly credit them for looking after me through the tough bits until we became great at it. Baby never left my side the whole time I was in hospital - I was wheeled to the post partum suite in my wheelchair holding my little bundle. Ah I get nostalgic just thinking about it, it was all just so bloody lovely.

poocatcherchampion Wed 16-Mar-16 21:43:11

I've got nothing to add but some lovely posts from canyou and angharad
I'm excited for you op!

UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 21:44:32

Thanks Farandole! Haha for sure- I may end up having one! smile

Oooh hi AngharadTheSplendid how exciting! I'm so glad you had a great experience and I'm really glad you were happy with the epidural. I may well have one, who can say at this point, I had just heard that you were pretty much forced to and that worried me. But maybe that's not the case these days/on the West (best!) coast!
The nurses sounds so great and thanks for giving me a break down of the costs! I haven't actually met my OB yet and won't for a couple more weeks or so but she "sounds" nice on paper haha!

Did you go to some antenatal/birthing classes here? Did you find it easy to meet other mums-to-be? At some point I'll switch over to pregnancy yoga or something so I can meet some but not sure what point that should be.

UKtoUSA Wed 16-Mar-16 21:49:26

Thanks poocatcherchampion! smile

Canyouforgiveher Wed 16-Mar-16 21:59:34

having a baby is a great way to meet other women. once you have your first appointment you should get some information about classes etc. people are really friendly in my experience.

Also when baby is born, most towns have community centers/libraries that run free new mother groups/toddler groups/community events.

With breastfeeding, I had a hard first labour and couldn't feed until the next day-baby had lost his latch. I had 3 different nurses who sat with me through the first 2 days to get him back on the breast-trying everything including squirting formula into his mouth while I latched him on. On my second baby, her latch was really strong and I needed to use a breastpump for a while- I left the hospital with a free rental. It is really supportive.

I had a friend who had her baby in California and she told me her first appointment with the paediatrician, he sat in front of her, took both her hands in his and said "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift you are giving your child by feeding him your own milk right now" smile

Oh and if you want to be the most popular mother on the floor, don't find out the sex of the baby. Most people do and if you don't the labour team LOVE being able to say "It's a girl!" or whatever.

MadamDeathstare Wed 16-Mar-16 22:20:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AngharadTheSplendid Wed 16-Mar-16 23:33:21

Oh yes there are plenty of classes available, they will probably give you a pack with all the info at your first appointment - or it will be online on the hospital's website. You know Americans they're so friendly and forthcoming you wont have any trouble meeting other mums - before and after the birth - mommy and me classes, baby yoga etc etc.

I also just find generally people are so friendly and chatty when you are pregnant and even more so now I have my little girl. I literally cannot sit in Starbucks for more than 5 minutes without 4/5/6 people telling me how beautiful my baby is, asking her name/age, telling me about their experiences. It's awesome. I was only saying to DH yesterday it's going to be strange once we're back home as people are generally more reserved and less likely to strike up a chat with a stranger! I am going to miss it.

How far along are you and when is your due date?smile

Baboooshka Thu 17-Mar-16 06:36:06

Congratulations, UKtoUSA!

I got pregnant while I was living in California, but I ended moving to England at the 6-month mark, so didn't get to experience the 3rd trimester or birth in the States. What really strikes me about hearing pregnancy experiences from the USA is that every situation seems slightly different (depending on your state, insurance, hospital, etc), as opposed to NHS pregnancy care, which really seems to run on rails.

A few observations:

- I did have a pregnancy test (blood sample) done by my PCP (primary care physician). This was required so that she could refer me to an ob-gyn practice.

- then the ob-gyn did a doppler scan for heartbeat on my first appointment.

- my ob-gyn also gave me a smear test on my first appointment. Everyone in the UK was horrified to hear this; apparently it's not done here.

- I spent about 90% of my medical appointment time seeing technicians and nurses. The ob-gyn was a man in a white coat who'd sweep in, say 'any problems', then bugger off. I did actually want to change clinics, but it ended up being too complicated with insurance.

- my ob-gyn clinic also did plastic surgery. Beverly Hills...

- I had every scan and test going. I thought this was normal (first pregnancy), but it surprised a lot of people on the NHS, since my pregnancy wasn't high-risk. Practically no scans and tests were done at my ob-gyn clinic; I got referred to different test places across the city. It all got very convoluted. They would send the results to my ob-gyn, and I'd have to wait for him to 'review' the paperwork, and that would often take a long time. I found this really frustrating, as, on at least one occasion, the results were time-sensitive and his clinic really dragged their feet. They were mad keen on getting tests done ($$), but rubbish at co-ordinating results.

- I was due to deliver at Cedars Sinai, and I kind of wish I'd stayed, now! Ended up in very overcrowded south London hospital. Care was fine, if rushed, but post-partum in shared room was horrible. I always hear post-partum care is much better in the States.

- it's really confusing having your first pregnancy in a foreign country. You just (or I just) tend to go along with whatever they consider normal, and then it's a shock to realise things are different elsewhere.

- one thing I didn't like -- and maybe this was just LA -- was that there seemed to be a strong medicalised-birth faction (completely normal to have epidural, everything high-tech) and then an equally vocal hippyish flower-child natural birth movement (placenta smoothies, OMG I'll never have a c-section), but not much in between. That's actually how I found Mumsnet; I never found an American parenting site which equalled its (usually!) no-nonsense tone.

Epic post! Sorry. But good luck.

AngharadTheSplendid Thu 17-Mar-16 14:48:02

Yes to smear and Doppler at first appointment, I didn't know that was unusual! In about 20 seconds my OB found baby's heartbeat at 8.5 weeks which was incredible.

Baboooshka Thu 17-Mar-16 17:37:07

Angharad, my NHS midwife said it's more difficult to interpret smear results during pregnancy, and that the test carries a very small miscarriage rate, so they're not done here. But I don't know if that's true. You'd think the risk of medical malpractice suits in the US would dissuade practitioners from offering it if there was significant risk.

AngharadTheSplendid Thu 17-Mar-16 18:06:40

Gosh really that is a little scary - they warned me I might bleed after the smear too because of increased blood flow to the area (and I did). Luckily I haven't had to have another one with this pregnancy as I only gave birth 6 months ago!

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