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Having a Baby in Spain

Having a Baby in Spain

We did what many say they wish they could do…We moved to Spain for a better quality of life, an easier life with not so much stress.  Then just four weeks after moving here, I am rushed to hospital in an ambulance, ………. only to be told “you are pregnant”. I couldn’t believe it.  What an amazing thing, we were ecstatic, delighted, excited, over the moon and petrified.  I don’t speak a word of Spanish. What am I going to do? How am I going to have a baby in a foreign hospital? I’ll have to go back to the UK!

Finding out I’m Pregnant

So, we did what many say they wish they could do, we moved to Spain for a better quality of life, an easier life with not so much stress. Then just four weeks after moving here, I am rushed to hospital in an ambulance, spent all day in the hospital to be told "you are pregnant”.

I couldn’t believe it. I won’t go into details of why I was rushed to hospital now, but I had a few minor complications. However…I’m pregnant! What an amazing thing, we were ecstatic, delighted, excited, over the moon and petrified. I don’t speak a word of Spanish. What am I going to do? How am I going to have a baby in a foreign hospital? I’ll have to go back to the UK!

Well, after the initial shock and when I had calmed down, I thought there’s only one language for pain! I’ll be fine.

The Pregnancy

So we had been here just a few weeks and didn’t really know anyone.  We didn’t know what to do or where to go.  First thing first…find a Gynecologist.  I was recommended one through a friend of a friend. I had Private Health Insurance but unfortunately it didn’t cover us until the policy had been enforce for 10 months.  So I did have to pay for my initial checks and scans until the policy kicked in.

I saw my Gynecologist probably once a month.  Some doctors have the facility to do blood test on site.  Some you may have to find an analyst clinic to have blood tests done.  I was also put in touch with an English Mid Wife who was really lovely.    She also ran some anti-natal classes where I met some people who are now very good friends of ours.

Throughout my pregnancy, I kept meeting other pregnant woman or woman who had just had babies.  I just spoke and spoke to them about their experiences of the hospitals and birth etc.  Other expats are normally only too happy to pass on their own experiences and advice.  It really is the only way to find things out when you first move here.

Choosing Hospitals

As it was getting closer to the end of my pregnancy, time to think hospitals!  As I had  Private Health Insurance that covered me in the 9th month and also NHS (Social Security Cover), I had a choice of a Private Hospital in Malaga or the Costa Del Sol Hospital. We decided to take a trip to see the Hospital in Malaga, obviously pretending I was having contractions and in lots of pain.  Then after getting stuck in traffic jam, I had already decided that this hospital wasn’t for me before I had even seen it.

We also took a tour around the Costa Del Sol Hospital (NHS).  Depending on who’s on duty at reception, depends on whether you can see around the hospital.  Some of my friends had real problems getting past reception. The hospital was more like a hotel.  It was spotless, very clean and calm with security at the door.   I was advised that the hospital provided everything you needed including nappies and milk for your stay.  The only things you need to take are your personal items you would like and the clothes you and your baby will wear when you leave.

After seeing both hospitals, we obviously decided that the NHS Costa Del Sol was the one!  Modern, clean, latest technology and nearer home.  The thought of driving to a hospital an hour away in labour just didn’t do it for me.  Also, should there be a problem when the baby is born, the private hospital wasn’t equipped enough so babies have to be transferred to a different hospital.

The Labour

Labour started, but as normal, I was in denial and started to clean everything, just like all the books say.  To be honest I thought I had sciatica from sitting badly.  Then things got a little bit more painful, so I called my best friend…who asked me a few questions and shouted…." Jo…. you’re in labour, go to the hospital”.

So we made our way to the Costa Del Sol Hospital.  At the main entrance, we gave our passport details, NIE numbers and all our paperwork which was from the Private Gynecologist we had seen throughout the pregnancy.  This is information is very important as it has all your test results, blood group etc and the hospital like to have this.  Straight away I was put in a wheel chair, although I was absolutely fine to walk.

At first I was put in a room with monitors to monitor the contractions.  It seemed like I was in here for ever.  May I point out that this was my first baby and I actually had no idea of what was happening.  Every so often someone came in to check on me.  Then I was transferred to my room where I would spend the rest of my stay.   Here, in Spain, they do a few things that apparently they don’t do in England anymore like giving enema and pressing on the stomach after the birth to clear out the placenta.  In some respects they are 20 years ahead, then again, 50 years behind.

I finally met the midwife who was going to help me through this, she was lovely.  An Irish midwife, there was an Irish, an English and also a Spanish male midwife who I had also heard were also very good.   Once they told me proper labour had started, (obviously thinking how much proper can it get), I was moved to another room with more monitors and where finally I received that wonderful epidural.  I was dreading this; I wondered how am I going to stay still if a contraction comes? But you do, I don’t know how but you do, and I (being the biggest baby of all) didn’t feel anything but the feeling of water dripping down my back.

{mosbanner right}After about 10 hours of labour and a few minor complications, we all agreed that a caesarean was the best option.  For me, a natural birth would have been nice to experience but it wasn’t the end of the world.  Our main priority was to see our little baby girl alive and healthy.  Up until this point my husband was allowed to be with me all the time except for when the nurses were carrying out examinations.

The Birth

So off I go to the operating room…  I had heard many funny stories of this moment by other mums who also had to have a caesarean.  I was told that the room is so clean you can see the reflection of your naked body lying on the bed with what seem like hundreds of people walking around in white coats.  You have to see the funny side.  My husband wasn’t allowed in with me so I grabbed on to the midwife, (who I think was about to say goodbye to me as it was the end of her shift ) and I begged her to stay with me, and she did, I think!  The next thing I know I was waking up in the recovery room in a lot of pain but also with this beautiful vision in my head of a beautiful baby with thick black hair being shown to be.

After a recovery of about 2 hours (I did have a lot of pain relieve), I was taken back to my room where I saw my husband and that beautiful vision for real.  This was the most amazing day of my life.

The After Care

Everything was provided for the baby, clothes, nappies even milk. We realized that Spanish families play a big part in the aftercare with the grandmother and other family members doing a lot of work which normally nurses would do in the UK.

Every day a doctor will come and see me and the nurses are there if you need help, but you do have to ask for it.  If you need a translator, you can ask for one to be present when the doctor is there.  My room had a view of the sea and there are only two women to a room sharing a bathroom which is pretty good compared to some hospitals in the UK.  Your husbands are also allowed to sleep over during the night in the chairs provided.

Final Thought

As it was my first baby, I don’t have anything to compare it to other than when I visited friends in hospitals and of what they tell me.  But, I was happy with my experience, and will definitely have any future children there too.

This article was written by Joanne Harris who lives in Nueva Andalucia, Marbella. Apart from looking after her young daughter she runs an information website about Nueva Andalucia aswell as looking after the holiday lets on her apartment in La Maestranza in Puerto Banus