Expat Advice: Having a Baby in
Ho Chi Minh City
An expat in Ho Chi Minh City offers candid advice and an honest account of the prenatal care that his wife received while living in Ho Chi Minh City.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Ho Chi Minh City
How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?
Describe your experience giving birth there. What type of facility did you go to? What (if any) type of pain management did you use? How long did you stay in the hospital? Was it a positive experience? Etc...
Being the male, I cannot give you a description of the birthing my wife had experienced. But being on the sidelines, I would not recommend any couple to have a child born here if it is possible.
Being an outsider, I decided to let my wife select the hospital as well as the doctor she felt most comfortable with. She had selected the International Hospital for Women located in Ho Chi Minh City, Q1. Having that word "International" gave me a little of an assurance. However this assurance was abruptly snatched away as soon as we had our first prenatal visit.
Granted, that this is my first child, and I really had nothing to compare to back in the states, but what I saw left a lot to be desired. My wife at that time was 38 years old. I would think they would have done more testing to determine if the child may have Downs Syndrome, since at her age there is a 1:240 chance of our baby being affected. The only test that was done on her during her entire pregnancy was a blood test on her first check up. I had requested other tests from what I had gathered from the internet and books that I had brought from the States. But those tests typically done to women at the age of my wife, are not conducted in Vietnam. There was nothing I can do but cross my fingers.
So the months passed, and her weight gained. As far as I could tell everything was okay. I had purchased some prenatal supplements from the States and she was taking them religiously. We also prepared meals to supplement her with the nutrition needed during pregnancy from what I had read.
At nine months and our baby girl was in the breach state and no signs of turning. A cesarean had to be performed. We reserved the best room in the hospital so my wife would be comfortable. When we stepped in, I felt like I took a step back in time. If it wasn't for the color TV and remote control, I could swear I had seen this set on one of those old black and white TV shows from the late 50's. But, you have to make due with the cards you are dealt with. One good thing though, is that the nurses were of great help and pleasant. Usually, in Vietnam you have to tip the nurses to get good service. But at this hospital, although we tried to tip them, they would not accept it. This particular hospital is trying to change and anyone who got caught accepting tips would be let go.
Okay, so my wife is in her room a day ahead of her surgery. The next day she undergoes her cesarean. I am waiting in the waiting room and finally our new baby girl is brought out. Ten toes, ten fingers, eyes look the right distance apart, head shape is okay, and no deformities. Great, I was relieved. I asked about my wife and they said she is okay and is in the recovery room. Knowing this I went back to work. Just as I went to the office I got a call that they needed me back right away. There were a lot of thoughts that ran through my mind. When I finally got back, I found out that they could not stop her bleeding and they wanted consent to do a partial hysterectomy on her. But by the time I got to the hospital they already reopened and removed part of her uterus to stop the bleeding. If they had waited for me to sign, she would have died. The main thing is that my wife is okay.
So, my wife recuperates and we go home after a weeks stay in the hospital. We eventually hired one of the nurses who helped my wife at the hospital to come over everyday for a about a month to check and wash the baby while my wife recuperates.
A month has passed and it is time for our girls first check up. We went to the same hospital. I was surprised at the amount of people just waiting. It reminded me of the unemployment or welfare lines. When we finally saw the doctor, it was like being called into your bosses office. He was sitting behind a desk and my wife sat next to the desk on a chair holding that baby. I was thinking, "Hey buddy are you going to wash your hands before you touch the baby?" He never did. Usually the pediatricians use a special flashlight with a cone to look into the ears, nose and throat. This guys used a regular flashlight just like from K-mart. What the hell??? He does not take off the clothes to check the baby, nor look at the body and limbs....Okay......next person.
The hell with this, I have to find a new hospital. I asked around and found a French Vietnamese Hospital. On the second month we saw a pediatrician from France. I watched him, he washes his hands, removes all the clothes from our girl, inspects the whole body, ask us questions about diet and health. I thought this is great. This is a good hospital. I only wish I had found this earlier. The third month same doctor, same procedure...great, I was very happy.
The fourth month, our doctor left. But the there was a new pediatrician from France. She was excellent also, no complaints.
The fifth month, another new French doctor? What the hell is going on? No problem, he was also good.
The sixth month no French doctors. But there were three Vietnamese doctors. I thought, okay I will try them. Dammm....don't they teach sanitation in Vietnam. Wash your hands first, any elementary school person knows that. That is why you have a sink behind you. Its not used as a storage bin, its for washing your hands. Also, the way they checked the child was terrible and lazy. No questions about diet or health.
After this episode, I said hell with this, it is time to leave Vietnam. I cannot raise a child like this. Eight years is enough. So I started on my wife's visa papers to get our family to
I found a new hospital, for the seventh and eight month. A clinic, but there was an American pediatrician there. Great service. Back to normal.
Ninth month check up. Where is the American doctor? He left, and only local vietnamese doctors are there. I am not going to see a local doctor again. So I went back to the FV hospital where there was another foreign doctor there.
This kept on, and on until now. That is enough for now. I have other stories, but that is for another time. My daughter is 18 months now and it looks like next month (July 2008) we will be moving to our new house in Hawaii. It was great living debt free for several years, now the bank owns me for 20 or 30 years.
How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?
My wife had selected where she wanted to give birth.
If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?
As my story stated I cannot have another child. But "IF" I could have another child it will not be here.
If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?
If he/she were from another country I would say GO HOME!!!!!!!
More Expat Advice about Having a Baby in Vietnam