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Babies abroad

(17 Posts)
KateLB Tue 22-Jan-02 12:20:06

Have any of you had any experience of giving birth in Europe? I'm based in Spain (Valencia), expecting my first in a month. Everyone has been a great help, but I'm concerned that the hospital seems to favour a very managed birth (incredible surprise that I didn't automatically want an epidural etc) ... Any help would be very much appreciated as I'm wondering what it's going to be like!

pamina Tue 22-Jan-02 12:52:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pupuce Tue 22-Jan-02 15:34:49

I agree with Pamina.I have relatives who have given birth in Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands (no one in Spain I am afraid)... but yes, do ask around for options. They may not be aware that you would be interested in different things then what they generally offer !
I know that in B. everyone has it the same way but I recently discovered that there was another way (water birth and home birth) available but none of my friends and relatives knew about it... so do ask around.
Can you ask if you can have a chat with the doctor or midwife about what you'd like ?
Do you have any idea of what you'd like.... you can get tons of advice from mums on this site !

MalmoMum Tue 22-Jan-02 20:41:16

See if you can contact Lisboa in Portugal, at least she's in Iberia and she's been trying to contact other mums in the region. I don't know if tech can help on a one way connection.

Before I became a mother I lived in Belgium where , I now realise,they are pretty interventionist. I get the feeling that there is some Northern/Southern Europe divide on this one. Here in Sweden, they quite happily leave you until week 43 before they start fiddling with you. However, the Swedes are pretty fond of doing things according to the system, and my norwegian husband is already speculating on whether anyone will even read our birthplan let alone pay any attention to the contents. (I am thinking very far ahead here).

Do you have a partner or anyone else who will be there at the birth? My otherwise highly squeamish husband was a great help when my son was born in the UK. Hope all goes well in your last weeks.

adelek Wed 23-Jan-02 10:49:49

I have given birth twice here in Greece.Ideas were(1990&1994) far behind UK at that time but are slowly catching up.In 1990 especially we had a big fight for my husband to be allowed in for the birth.By 1994 it was becoming slightly more acceptable.As mentioned in other messages having baby with you constantly,feeding on demand,not allowing the nurses to give supplementary feeds etc etc are all subjects you have to be prepared to battle on (at least here in Greece)
Other foreign girls are often the best source of information as to which Dr. will be most supportive of your wishes.La Leche League may also have an active group where you live.I wish you all the best and once your baby has been born do what you feel is right for him/her-if Spain is anything like Greece(and I think it is)you will be bombarded will advice from everyone!!

lydux Wed 23-Jan-02 16:08:45

I am french but live in England. I went back to France to give birth to my daughter a couple of years ago. I went there about a month before my daughter was due. I quickly realised that I didn't have as many options as in England. Everyone seemed to give birth in much the same way. I was able to discuss and compare what was offered in the two different countries with one of my widwives. Everyone seemed to have an epidural and I had no choice but lie on the labour table. I had an emergency caesarian and after I woke up I was left waiting for more than an hour before I was able to see my daughter. There wasn't any available private room on the maternity floor but I still had a room to myself
on another floor. Then my stay lasted 7 days. The staff was most helpfull. I had a young student nurse who helped me take care of my baby as I couldn't get out of bed the first two days. Although breastfeeding was at first painfull I got lots of support from everyone. In the evening I was given the choice to keep my child with me or let her go to the night nursery so I could get some rest.She would be brought to me when she woke up to be fed. All in all the experience was a good one. Just make sure you discuss anything that bothers you with your doctor, gynecologist or midwife. There are no stupid questions!
I found that in France everything is very medicalised and that includes pregnancy. But everyone was very interested to kown what I got to learn in my antenatal classes in London.
Anyway I wish you all the best. Bon courage!

chiara71 Fri 25-Jan-02 13:39:15

My sister, and a lot of my friends have given birth in Italy, and I agree that it can be a lot more medicalised than in the UK, most of all, you are not given much choice. Pain relief is unheard of and the only people I know who've had an epidural were those having a C-section, breech babies are nevr attempted to be delivered vaginally or even turned aroun before birth. Women have to give birth in stir-ups and do not even know that there other positions to try.
Inductions are carried out by the end of the first week you're overdue. (at least this is what happens in the town where I come from, I think larger towns are more advanced in their approach).

I did find though that as far as antenatal care is concerned in the UK this is practically nonexistent, my sister had blood tests every month and after her due date her waters were examined every day to make sure they were still clear. I know a lot of people here in the UK hate internal examinations, but I think that anything that can help have a healthy baby is welcomed. (A friend of mine lost a baby in the UK beacuse of meconium, and I can't help thinking that if she had been in Italy this would not have happened).
Post natal care is though virtually zero, and nurses do not help you with breastfeeding (after a few hours from my niece's birth a nurse popped in to say that my sister should have put her to the breast, but did not stay to check how was getting on or to show her how to do...), they also give babies sugared water until a mother's milk comes in, which I find amazing (why not formula then? at least is more nutritious than sugar!!!).

To learn how things were done in the UK I started buying pregnancy magazines from the moment I found out I was pregnant, so by the time I went to my antental classes I knew more or less what my options were and I was able to ask questions about things that I was interested in.
As all the others have said, the best thing is ask ask ask, visit the hospitals if you can as well.
I don't know about Spain, but in Italy private care is not very expensive, my sister's gyneacologist cost about 30-40 pounds a visit and he was working at the hospital as well so he delivered the baby as well. It may be an option if you find someone you trust.

LOts of luck!!!

LizG Fri 25-Jan-02 14:20:42

By coincidence I am living in Valencia and expecting my first baby 22nd Feb, so I am probably going to to be no use to you in terms of advice by experience. I have been going to Spanish antenatal classes and find the midwife at the class quite progressive in attitude, she is very much in favour of birth without intervention if at all possible. A number of people in the antenatal class gave birth without epidural this seems more common in LaFe Hospital. However, the gynacologist who will deliver the baby seems quite fixed in his opinions as you have found already re epidural, episiotomy etc. Gas and air is not available in hospital and they had never heard of TENS machines (I have had one sent from the UK to try it out). I believe there is a birthing pool in Denia but this is the only one in Valencia Province so this is not really an option. I have a friend who gave birth in Madrid and found the experience much more tranquil than she had with her first baby in the UK where she was left for long periods of time without assistance due to the overworked staff.
As far as post natal care is concerned there are active groups in local health centres offering support and breast feeding advice which I have been welcomed to attend before the baby is due. These are quite well attended with babies ranging in age from new born to not quite sure. Depends on your Spanish how much is understandable but as you said everyone is very keen to help and advise. The post natal care is up to the parents to organise but is definitely available if you seek it out.
Will let you know how I get on but tradition in my family is for overdue arrivals so you will probably have been through it before me.

Good luck
LizG

LizG Fri 25-Jan-02 14:22:26

By coincidence I am living in Valencia and expecting my first baby 22nd Feb, so I am probably going to to be no use to you in terms of advice by experience. I have been going to Spanish antenatal classes and find the midwife at the class quite progressive in attitude, she is very much in favour of birth without intervention if at all possible. A number of people in the antenatal class gave birth without epidural this seems more common in LaFe Hospital. However, the gynacologist who will deliver the baby seems quite fixed in his opinions as you have found already re epidural, episiotomy etc. Gas and air is not available in hospital and they had never heard of TENS machines (I have had one sent from the UK to try it out). I believe there is a birthing pool in Denia but this is the only one in Valencia Province so this is not really an option. I have a friend who gave birth in Madrid and found the experience much more tranquil than she had with her first baby in the UK where she was left for long periods of time without assistance due to the overworked staff.
As far as post natal care is concerned there are active groups in local health centres offering support and breast feeding advice which I have been welcomed to attend before the baby is due. These are quite well attended with babies ranging in age from new born to not quite sure. Depends on your Spanish how much is understandable but as you said everyone is very keen to help and advise. The post natal care is up to the parents to organise but is definitely available if you seek it out.
Will let you know how I get on but tradition in my family is for overdue arrivals so you will probably have been through it before me.

Good luck
LizG

Pupuce Fri 25-Jan-02 14:33:11

Chiara you are right about ante natal being more intensive. My relatives in Belgium have several scans (they have to pay for them), they get internal examinations, blood tests, the lot and much more often than we do. I did ask my midwife about the internal exam before my due date, she said that they used to do them frequently a few years ago but there is an increase risk of infection when you do them. I have no idea if this is true.
I asked for my blood test to test for toxoplasmosis, which all Belgian mum get tested for... they agreed but the GP did ask what was I on about ??? Well as it turned out I was immune (must have had it) but in the UK most people are not immune. You can get this mild disease (for the mum not for the foetus) when eating undercooked meat.... and we do a lot of that in Belgium (Steak tartare to start with is raw beef).
Anyway I am one for not too many test so am glad to be in the UK but I know a lot of mums who are re-assured with all the exams and are happy to be this medicalised.

pob Mon 28-Jan-02 15:58:14

So not everybody is having a toxoplasmosis blood test every month?! If you can, ask around other mum's in your area, especially within your extended family if they are spanish, to see whether it is just your hospital or 'the way it is'...my birth in France was pretty medicalized - caesarian at which dh was not allowed to be present -'too serious an activity'- (this was dependent on the anaesthetists personality apparently) and I stopped reading British pregnancy mags as everything seemed too different...but the midwives were very supportive of breastfeeding (baby put on breast straight after dh had dressed her after the op), and being kept in for seven days really gave the chance to learn how to take care of wee dd! Ultimately, we all come out with the most gorgeous little people we really love to bits, which, however achieved, has to be the best thing !!! Good luck!!

KateLB Mon 28-Jan-02 16:59:25

Thanks everyone! Lovely to know I'm not alone. As Pamina said, the support system is very different over here, and the check ups a lot less frequent than in the UK. LizG - by coincidence I am at LaFe - you too? Our baby is due Feb 20th so perhaps our paths will cross! At least I gave the obstetrician a good laugh this morning - 'es muy grande' he said - the baby is 3.8 kilos already ... Best of luck to you all!

Art Fri 01-Feb-02 18:47:15

KateLB,
I had a baby in Barcelona in May and found the care I received really good. I was worried about the epidural as there is no other form of pain relief, but was v. grateful for it at the time! The dose was fairly light so I could still move around and didnt need a catheter. I was also asked if I wanted an episiotomy. The hospital was spotless and I had my own room. The baby was v. overdue and I went for checks every 2 days so was monitored closely.
The only down side is no after care, so make sure youve got plenty of friends and family on standby! Good luck.

MAZ1 Fri 14-Nov-03 19:19:10

I HAVE JUST FOUND OUT I AM PREGNANT WITH MY THIRD CHILD BUT WE ARE DUE TO MOVE TO sPAIN AFTER CHRISTMAS. DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHAT ANTENATAL CARE WE WOULD BE ENTITLED TO AND WHAT IS AVAILABLE.

pupuce Fri 14-Nov-03 19:22:02

Lucy 123 is in Spain

lucy123 Fri 14-Nov-03 21:35:23

yes - just replied on the "moved to spaina nd am suffering" thread.

monkey Fri 14-Nov-03 22:25:02

no idea about spain, but juat wanted to offer a word of encouragement. i moved abroad when 6 months pg & had wonderful care & experience, so it might sound daunting, but can be a great experience for all, so get the help & info you can & try not to worry. Good luck.

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