Those Who've Birthed in Foreign Countries - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What was your experience like? Homebirth or Hospital? Comparison to US? Overall satisfaction?

I'm considering birthing in N. Africa. It is not a war-torn or dangerous country, though considerable less-medicalized than U.S. I'm considering a HBAC. I've not yet found whether a doc would support this, but I know in most European countries VBACs are standard, and my understanding is that this is the model that is followed.

Thoughts? Experiences birthing outside US? Stories of others?

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I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#2 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 03:45 PM
 
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Here's an account of my SIL's birth in India. I'm sure it can be a nice experience, but it wasn't for her.
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=482865

I have talked to her recently about it. Her son is now 2.5 years old and she is still traumatized by it all. She has decided not to have any more children in part because of her birth experience.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#3 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have talked to her recently about it. Her son is now 2.5 years old and she is still traumatized by it all. She has decided not to have any more children in part because of her birth experience.
Wow, that's a sad sad story. But what's more sad is that it sounds like something that could happen here!

I'm assuming a homebirth would have been much better, but the classism thing exists in N. Africa too, so I could be 'forced' to hospital birth, but I don't know.

I'm so bummed that she had to experience something so traumatic.

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#4 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 06:35 PM
 
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I had a homebirth in Holland. Great experience and would do it again, if we ever decide to have more kids.

However, I realize that Holland (Netherlands) is really the exception, even in Europe, for promoting homebirths (about 1/2 are planned to be at home and about 1/3rd end up happening at home). They've got a fantastic system in place for in home post-partum care, too!

Even if you go to the hospital, as long as everything is normal, you get sent home within a few hours.

The downsides were that, at the time, I wasn't that fluent in Dutch. Even with lots of English speakers among the midwives, it was hard not to be able to communicate about something so personal either fluently (when I spoke Dutch), or to really feel like what i was saying was "gotten" by others, due to linguistic and cultural barriers. Sure, we could and did work through those things, but when you're pregnant and hormonal, it's nice to be "gotten."

This is probably not the case for many MDCers, but I *wanted* more prenatal tests than the Dutch system gives (basically, none at the time for women under 35). I didn't want the full battery of American tests, but wanted a bit more than they offered. Had to really advocate for myself on that one.

Anyway, i would really really investigate the system in the N. AFrican country and see what the expectations are.
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#5 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 08:21 PM
 
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My SIL had a twins in Botwana at a private clinic (hospital). She said it was about the same as the US, but I don't know any other details.
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#6 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 08:39 PM
 
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I didn't, but I was initially planning a homebirth in Egypt. I thought that as a still pretty common practice it would go over well enough, culturally speaking. I did find a few things though: first, homebirth was popularly considered low-class and dangerous. Given access to hospital births, it was more than just assumed I would make use of them -- I know that sounds like the U.S. too, but the difference being that homebirth is still pretty common among poor populations, so there's more of an immediate, current class war issue going on with that. People take active pride in their ability to afford what is perceived as better -- I met much more resistance to the homebirth idea in Egypt than even in the U.S. as a result.

Second, midwifery is a lay occupation held primarily by older, uneducated women. The upside being that they do tend to be experienced with what they do. The downside being that I really would not have been able to work with them to achieve the birth experience I wanted. Lack of lingual fluency and different ideas about what a midwife does during a normal birth worked out to be problems for me. The doctors I had access to would not attend homebirths, and didn't have much better views about mother-led birthing anyway. And I was not comfortable at all with the midwives I met in terms of if it did not work out to be a normal birth.

Honestly, had there not been cause for me to come back to the U.S. for other reasons, I still don't know what I would have done. I wasn't comfortable going unassisted for my first child; were it to come up again, though, I would almost certainly do an unassisted homebirth. The hospital cleanliness situation ... let's just say I was not thrilled.

On a plus side, though, while cesareans are also increasingly popular, I've never heard of being refused a VBAC by a doctor. My SIL was facing some pressure for a repeat cesarean, for example, but only because the second would have been only about a year after the first, and the baby was breech. She got her VBAC anyway -- it was totally her call to make.
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#7 of 18 Old 02-27-2009, 09:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all. These are the kind of stories I need to hear.

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#8 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 01:42 AM
 
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Both my children were born in Germany, which is as open to homebirthing as Holland. They actively encourage women to have VBACs, and the midwives and support system (especially for natural birthing and breastfeeding) is just amazing.
I was also worried about the language factor (I speak fluent German, but knew that when push came to shove I'd want someone to understand me). I chose my own personal midwife who spoke fluent German, and who spoke German to me at the very end. She totally respected my wishes to do everything possible to have a natural and drug-free birth.

The German system has excellent pre-natal care as well. I'd give birth there again in a heartbeat (but now we live in Canada). I don't have any experience with the US system, but from what I hear from friends.....it's very different than in Germany.

Not to be indiscreet, but what are the reasons why you want to birth in N.Africa? Do you have any ties there? There was an excellent article in one of the Mothering issues a year or two ago about midwives in New Mexico, and the different types of birthing experiences that they have been able to give. Maybe if you'd like a more natural birthing experience in a desert environment, maybe someplace like New Mexico might be easier? Unless you come from N.Africa and have strong family ties there?

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#9 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DD and I were already planning a 5 month visit to DHs family-just considering my options right now.

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#10 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 05:07 AM
 
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I had my 3rd child in eastern Europe & had a fantastic experience. I had to really advocate what I wanted, but it was the most peaceful sacred birth I could have hoped for. She was born in a birth centre with a midwife who mostly sat on the other side of the room & let dh and I work together.

I just had a stillbirth in Asia & it was horrific. Their approach to prenatal care & anything out of the range of 'normal' was scary. I fear being pregnant in that country again.

My generalizations of the pregnancy experiences for expats (and I'm not sure if you would call yourself an expat or not) is that regardless of which country you are in, there is a deeply held desire by local medical personnel not to 'screw up' with the expat. This has typically meant more intervention rather then less & a suspicion of any requests that seemed old-school or non-medical in nature. Midwifery is not the norm and typically is considered as the option for those who cannot afford better. The c/s rate among expats in every country I've lived in has been astronomically high. To get the birth experience that you want, you have to be a really good advocate & establish relationships with supportive care professionals.

(I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post in this forum or not. I'm an expat who has lived in 4 different countries and counting, and my kids have never lived in their own home culture/country. Does that make us multicultural? )

Mom of 5: dd (10), ds (8) & dd2 (4), my sweet baby son born still 3/2/09, and celebrating the arrival of our dd 5/7/10.
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#11 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 05:27 AM
 
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I had two of my children here in the UAE and have attended several births (as a Doula) both in Egypt (Cairo) and here. It would depend on the country where you were actually considering birthing. Although homebirth is done in Egypt, because of the lack of emergency services (ambulances, traffic, etc) I would not only not attend one easily, I would strongly recommend against it. If someone said they were going to birth at home regardless of whether someone attended their birth or not, then I would probably be with them just because at least it would add a modicum of a safety net.

I'd be happy to PM you if you want.
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#12 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 05:27 AM
 
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I didn't, but I was initially planning a homebirth in Egypt. I thought that as a still pretty common practice it would go over well enough, culturally speaking. I did find a few things though: first, homebirth was popularly considered low-class and dangerous. Given access to hospital births, it was more than just assumed I would make use of them -- I know that sounds like the U.S. too, but the difference being that homebirth is still pretty common among poor populations, so there's more of an immediate, current class war issue going on with that. People take active pride in their ability to afford what is perceived as better -- I met much more resistance to the homebirth idea in Egypt than even in the U.S. as a result.

Second, midwifery is a lay occupation held primarily by older, uneducated women. The upside being that they do tend to be experienced with what they do. The downside being that I really would not have been able to work with them to achieve the birth experience I wanted. Lack of lingual fluency and different ideas about what a midwife does during a normal birth worked out to be problems for me. The doctors I had access to would not attend homebirths, and didn't have much better views about mother-led birthing anyway. And I was not comfortable at all with the midwives I met in terms of if it did not work out to be a normal birth.

Honestly, had there not been cause for me to come back to the U.S. for other reasons, I still don't know what I would have done. I wasn't comfortable going unassisted for my first child; were it to come up again, though, I would almost certainly do an unassisted homebirth. The hospital cleanliness situation ... let's just say I was not thrilled.
I agree. That pretty much sums up what it is like in Africa. Either go to hospital or take the risk of an unedeucated by probably experianced mw.
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#13 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 08:18 AM
 
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we had dd in costa rica, it was great, you can find it in my blog in my signature.

we had some prenatal here in lithuania and i was so upset by just that we tarted looking for another local. do your research.

sorry so short- nursing...
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#14 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 01:56 PM
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I birthed in the Caucasus region. It was fine, overalll. I had a hospital birth (well, it wasn't exactly a hospital, I guess, it was a birthing center)--unfortunatley I was bullied into an induction, but other than that, things went smoothly. The birthing center was clean, the doctors and staff professional--the only problem was no hot water in the bathrooms/shower area and they made me stay for three days following the birth, so I felt a little yucky.

The REAL problems started AFTER the birth. Although the birthing center issued a birth certificate, we needed to register the birth with the local bureaucracy for a "real" record of birth which we needed before we could apply for the consular report of birth abroad at the US Embassy. The registry office REFUSED to issue it for whatever reason. We had to get the US Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Minstry of Justice (or whatever it's called) to all intervene. Even with them on our side, they refused to do it for a long time. Dh was making DAILY trips there each time with a new official of some sort either accompanying him or calling on the phone. The whole thing was a HUGE mess.

So the birthing was nothing compared to the trauma of dealing with the local bureacracy. Just something to think about.

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#15 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The registry office REFUSED to issue it for whatever reason. We had to get the US Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Minstry of Justice (or whatever it's called) to all intervene. Even with them on our side, they refused to do it for a long time. Dh was making DAILY trips there each time with a new official of some sort either accompanying him or calling on the phone. The whole thing was a HUGE mess.

So the birthing was nothing compared to the trauma of dealing with the local bureacracy. Just something to think about.
What was the reason for the runaround? This is something I worry about too...

Momma to DD (12/04) hearts.gif and DS (11/09) hbac.gif.
I survived 16 mos! Ask me about breastfeeding a baby with posterior tongue tie, high palate, and weak oral motor skills- whew!

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#16 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 03:48 PM
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What was the reason for the runaround? This is something I worry about too...
Who knows....The "official" reason was that they kept finding problems with the paperwork--for example, their alphabet has two letters for a basic "K" sound, and the birthing center person who wrote my last name on their birth certificate (my last name begins with a C, but sounds like a K) used a letter that the official birth registration person disagreed with--she thought is needed to be the other K letter and therefore the forms were unacceptable to her It was things like that.

What was the motivation? No idea. Apparently there was some political grudge involved: my dh is from another country in the region and according to him, the woman made some comment about his country refusing to register births of their citizens, so she was paying him back, so to speak--although I'm a citizen of a third country which has off again on again relations with this country so that might have been a factor too. Dunno.

The bottom line is that petty bureacrats have WAY too much power in some countries and they like to throw their wieght around when they get the chance because they are overworked, underpaid, and in their opinion, underrecognized. So they take it out on people when they get the chance in order to show everyone how powerful they are.

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#17 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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The REAL problems started AFTER the birth. Although the birthing center issued a birth certificate, we needed to register the birth with the local bureaucracy for a "real" record of birth which we needed before we could apply for the consular report of birth abroad at the US Embassy.
That's another consideration I forgot entirely about. Maybe things have changed back in the past couple of years, but around the time I got pregnant the state decided to crack down on the issuance of birth certificates for "illegitimate births," birth records with inaccurate information, etc. The results being that everyone who didn't have connections and didn't know who to bribe was having a small paperwork nightmare to get one issued at all -- "go to this office, no this office, no this other office over there," "fill out this form and this form, no this form, we're sorry, these ten instead," etc, etc, etc. You get the idea. : It's definitely good to find out from people who've done it recently what all the paperwork will entail and to make sure you have absolutely everything you need to make it go as smoothly as possible.
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#18 of 18 Old 02-28-2009, 04:57 PM
 
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I'm not multicultural, but I gave birth in Thailand. It was great, I had exactly the birth I wanted, and incredible breastfeeding support. Much better, for me, than the U.S.

I know there's a mama on here who had twins at home in Thailand, too.
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