Childbirth in Italy (Tuscany)

(20 Posts)
LeeMiller Wed 01-Aug-18 19:13:11

Inspired by the 'Childbirth in France' thread, does anyone have any advice on pregnancy/birth/post-natal care and the first few months of motherhood in Italy?

I'm about 6 months pregnant and live in Tuscany (obviously regional variation here can be huge!) with Italian DH. Planning to give birth in Pescia hospital which is smallish, the labour ward was rennovated this year. So far I'm really happy with the care and services, but it gets scarier and there are more unknowns the further on I am!

I only have one British friend who's given birth here (in a different hospital) and Italian friends have different expectations. So, any suggestions about stuff to do, pack, buy, research, worry about etc would be much appreciated!

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LadyFlangeWidget Mon 06-Aug-18 11:56:12

Having had 2dc in northern Italy, quite recently I can tell you a bit about my experience. Firstly the hospital was excellent , but you had to book an epidural and there IS NO PAIN RELIEF OFFERED OR AVAILABLE.

Had a hideous natural birth with 1st thought I was going to die. All I had was some paracetamol from my handbag. They seem to think this was the norm...??

Anyway fast fwd 2 years and 2nd dc is born. Booked epidural at diff hospital. Plain sailing!

I'd say its all good in Italy EXCEPT there is no aftercare, none, nada. They wave you off after 2 or 3 days and then you are left alone.

Completely alone. You have to reg with a pediatrician who helps with health, weight of baby etc, but as for your own mental and physical health - nothing. I had a mini breakdown, pnd and various other issues, just cried alone at home.

The Uk much better in that respect. HAD i known how it was, I would have had them both in the Uk.

Good luck and hope it works out! Pm me if you want...

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 12:57:52

That sounds rather scary @LadyFlangeWidget, I had heard about the no pain relief thing (why?! normally they love taking medication and pain relief here!) and will definitely book an epidural, though it looks like I may need a ceasarean for medical reasons. Do you have any advice about being in hospital in Italy?

The lack of aftercare sounds terrible sad, I hope you are doing better now. I know here there are free post-partum courses, I'm not quite sure what they involve but I've seen signs mentioning pelvic floor rehabilitation and baby massage) and (if I'm able to breastfeed) there's a drop-in clinic and the midwife does home visits. I can imagine that culturally it's all very baby rather than mum focused.

I'm a bit worried about all the other mums going back to work at 3 months and a lack of baby groups to go to. I also can't remember ever seeing anyone breastfeeding in public, which makes me anxious - or maybe they were just discreet?

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joopy79 Tue 07-Aug-18 13:08:20

I had a baby in Italy. I can't compare it to Britain as he's my only one
I had no pain relief unless you count a hot water bottle! But I was fine and I'm glad I didn't have an epidural.
I found that the midwives were really supportive in helping establishing breast feeding and I breastfed everywhere and people were lovely and supportive. In my town you were more likely to be looked down on if you weren't breastfeeding!
Hospital food was amazing too smile

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 13:15:02

Thanks @joopy79 for a more positive story! smile Yes I would expect the hospital food to be a cut above te UK's!

It's nice to hear the midwives (and people generally) were supportive of breastfeeding. I do actually remember my ex-colleague mentioning she was told off for bottle feeding in public, so maybe I've just never noticed anyone breastfeeding because I had no interest in it before.

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joopy79 Tue 07-Aug-18 14:09:24

I breastfed everywhere, I didn't have a car so on the train, on the bus, in cafes, supermarkets, benches. People were lovely and I even had other customers fetching me drinks so I could sit down.

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 14:17:53

People were lovely and I even had other customers fetching me drinks so I could sit down. that sounds great, I hope it's like that here. smile

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CesiraAndEnrico Tue 07-Aug-18 14:34:48

Today my baby is 18. And I still remember the birth in technicolor.

If an Italian hospital tells you it has a no pain relief policy. Believe them. Do not assume they don't mean even when you are being induced. They do. They will leave you to screa from one morning to the next as you go from 3 to 3.5 cm. They will only take the crashing, overlapping waves of pain away when prepping you for a c-sec.

I suspect the above plays at least some part in the negative birth rate over here.

I have no other complaints. There may have been other things to complain about, but the above kept me pretty busy in the Am Not Happy Bunny department.

Talk to the mums in your area about what the nearest hospitals are like, they'll give you the low down on where to head for depending on what your non negotiables are.

PS The food was slop in my hospital, but MIL came into her own and kept me fed via DH. And it was kept at mad temps given it was August. We were quite melty. A small hand held fan would have been nice, but possibly not worth it for all the colpa d'aria panic that would have happened.

Oh, one more thing, don't know if this has changed, DH wasn't allowed in the room for the C-sec. It was OK, everybody went out of their way to speak English to me (my fluent Italian disappeared after all the howling for hours and the exhaustion) and they were lovely. So nice that it was a really stark contrast with the sadism of the previous part of the process.

CesiraAndEnrico Tue 07-Aug-18 15:17:50

If you have Sky, or perhaps even NOW TV, might be worth a gander at the TV programme Reparto Maternità, think One Born Every Minute, Italian style.

You get to see pre-natal, labour, different births and some follow up with the new parents back at home. They've made series in a least two different regions IIRC.

If you can't get it on the telly, there are clips on youtube

I think it could help you get a feel for the look, sound and atmosphere you can expect.

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 15:29:46

Thanks @CesiraAndEnrico and happy birthday to your son (Enrico?). I will make sure I grill the midwife and the anesthesiologist at the pre-parto course so I know what the (lack of) options are. The maternity ward at my nearest hospital has a good reputation locally but my Italian friends look blank when I ask about gas and air or pethidine so obviously we are starting with different expectations, so I'll investigate how the hospitals differ! Maybe I should be crossing my fingers that a c-section is required after all...

Going hungry is not an issue with MIL and FIL around. I hope DH could stay with me even if a c-section is needed - another good question to ask at the course, thanks.

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LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 15:31:43

Thanks so much for the suggestion, I'll definitely check that programme out.

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CesiraAndEnrico Tue 07-Aug-18 15:39:49

No, DS is a Francesco, family tradition.

Cesira and Enrico are 2 characters (married moles to be precise) from Lupo Alberto. It's a long running comic book for adults. I used it to learn to read Italian when I first came here. C&E became pet names DH and I use with each other.

Happy to help love. Never heard of gas and air over here, not sure about pethidine.

Because there is a such a gap in expectations in retrospect I wish I hadn't got all my info from English language sources. It would have helped to flip through Italian books, magazines, websites and forums.

Culture shock was enough, without adding a post partum version of the same on top.

If you are having a little boy, there may need to be a conversation to check to see if attitudes about foreskin treatment have changed. If they haven't it is something worth being aware of before you undress your baby and hand him to the ped for a first check up.

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 16:02:09

Ok, adding the foreskin issue to the list of things to look into..!

I have an Italian pregnancy guide but it seems to reflect the toxoplasmosis/weight obsession and I get enough of that from my gyno so I've been a bit lazy about reading it. Alfemminile is not a patch on MN wink but I will try harder to read some Italian info and interrogate some local mums, wise words.

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CesiraAndEnrico Tue 07-Aug-18 16:52:02

Have a look in the newsagent's, there's been quite a few magazine titles added over the years. And they are probably a less heavy going read than a whole book.

Plus by looking at the ads you can glean loads of information about what is similar (or not) in terms of priorities and style of doing things.

Don't panic about the foreskin, but it is different from the "leave it alone" attitude we are used to. You do get to dictate what happens in your baby's case, but the ped needs to know your position cos otherwise they'll probably just assume they can go ahead with forced retraction. And then everybody might get cross with each other.

How is the pregnancy going ? Are you doing well ? smile

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 17:06:14

Magazines are a great suggestion, thanks.

Pregnancy is going well so far, I'm gyno led not midwife led as have a couple of underlying issues so I seem to have appointments or tests every few days! But I actually quite like the medicalised approach as I find it reassuring that I'm being checked so often, and I'm on maternità anticipata so I have plenty of time on my hands. My dr is lovely and the staff I've met at the hospital and centro donna have been great so far, it's just the fact there are so many unknowns ahead that makes me anxious!

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CesiraAndEnrico Tue 07-Aug-18 17:30:59

I was gyno led too. Spent most of the pregnancy in bed because he kept trying to make a break for it, but then refused to budge when it was time to vacate. 😫

It will all be fine love. It feels like there is so much to take in, but there's probably more similarities overall than differences.

Breastfeeding is probably more friendly over here than back home. I see people on here talking about being given a hard time, and I got nothing like that. Mostly people wandering up saying che brava etc.

Plus not once did anybody leave me to lug the pushchair up the metro stairs or onto a bus by myself. People opened doors. Reorganised their seating so me and the pushchair could fit at the next table. And generally made a big fat fuss over my baby and his blonde curls. Which would usually distract him from the existence of my boobs long enough for me to neck a much needed coffee in peace grin

There's going to be pleanty of Italian style smooth to help wash down the rough patches.

LeeMiller Tue 07-Aug-18 17:49:11

Thank you so much @Cesira, I actually felt bit tearful reading your reasssuring words (pregnancy hormones?). I will read a bit more in Italian and try to stop worrying! Hope you and your son enjoy his birthday, 18 is such a milestone.

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CesiraAndEnrico Wed 08-Aug-18 06:20:26

Well if you aren't allowed to worry and get tearful occasionally when performing the miracle of creating life itself, when are you allowed grin

He had a lovely day thanks. If it helps any, despite the "Italians Do Children Differently" shaped bumps in the road I am glad I raised him here. There are some things they do differently here that over the long haul I have come to value, and I believe contributed to me raising my game parenthood-wise.

solittletime Wed 22-Aug-18 06:48:38

I've given birth both in Tuscany and UK. Didn't find that much difference on the after care they provide, but big difference in the information. You have to make a bit more effort in Italy to find out where to go and when but in my experience they were even more amenable than in the UK. Probably because birth rate is lower so they have more time?
Only negative was the constant internal examinations whole I was in labour. However it was my first and now I would be much more strict telling midwife to not.

Overall I'd say I was much more monitored and followed in my ante natal and during labour care in Italy. Also three days in hospital with midwives showing how to bathe babies etc and chatting to the other ladies in my ward who had all given birth was a great experience.

Hospital in London looked far more fancy and modern with all shiny leaflets etc but they really are so busy there is no way they could give you that level of attention.

etst Wed 07-Nov-18 11:26:59

Hi there! smile

"does anyone have any advice on pregnancy/birth/post-natal care and the first few months of motherhood in Italy"

As someone of you asked, we don't have painkillers such as gas and air or pethidine, we do have epidurale only and you can have it only if you ask an appointment with the anesthetist a couple of weeks in advance. I'd suggest to have a couple of hospitals in your list to choose: one for the emergencies (the closest one to home and/or work) and one where you'd like to give birth.
We don't have post-natal care like (I assume) you have in the UK (midwifes coming to visit you at home?) but if you ask at your local ASL, they have support group before giving birth (a sort of corso pre-parto), breastfeeding meeting and areas where you can go and talk to midwives, meeting with ob gyno and psychologists to help you going thru the first months of motherhood. Usually, these meetings are on a weekly basis.
I'd suggest you to look for hospitals where you can give birth water, it's more relaxing, the warm water let's you relax and don't feel the pain (or at least not that much as in a normal birth), but you can't have the epidurale in waters.
generally, midwifes follows you in the three days after birth while still at the hospital, helping you and the baby.

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