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Expat Advice: Having a Baby in Otavalo

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An expat mom in Otavalo, Ecuador offers an eye-opening account of what it's like to give birth in a public hospital in Ecuador. If you are planning to have your baby in a public hospital, bring your own towel, baby shampoo, soap and baby clothes, because nothing is provided by the hospital.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Otavalo

How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?

October 2011

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...

I gave birth to my little baby girl in the main hospital in Otavalo, Ecuador. I had been told that in the clinics I could get better attention, but also that sometimes the doctors tell the women that they need C-Sections just because they earn more money from the surgery. I couldn't afford the clinic costs and the hospital is free, so I decided to go there. What I encountered was a large room full of women waiting to have their babies, separated by thin sheets and a few midwives and nurses running between each sector to assist the women. No pain medication is given in the hospital, so it was all natural. When women are at the point of given birth they're led to the surgery room which, thankfully, only allows one woman at a time. I was given the choice to give birth laying down, sitting up or standing, as many of the indigenous Ecuadorian women do. The whole experience was hard and long, but as far as the attention at the hospital I was taken care of pretty well. The only unsettling part was the shared labor room where we all waited until we were far enough along in the labor to give birth. Hearing a dozen screaming women all around you is a bit unpleasant. I gave birth to my baby girl in the afternoon, stayed the night in a room with 2 other new mothers, then went home the next morning.

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How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?

Since I was in the hospital, my midwife chose me, I think. It was an elderly indigenous woman who periodically gave me hot herbal teas, blew on my forehead and rubbed my back. It was a little strange, since I'm American and definitely not from their culture. But being in labor with heavy contractions it's hard to complain.

If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?

I would like to go to a clinic next time, since the whole "public" experience in the hospital was very crowded and had very little privacy. It was a clean place and I was pretty well attended, but I would rather go somewhere more private next time, even if I have to save up for it.

If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?

Insist on taking a tour of the places where you could possibly have your child. Even if they refuse, (it's not Ecuadorian culture to allow tours in hospitals) try your best to see everything first and understand the conditions before your decision. All public hospitals offer free service for deliveries and C-sections, but since it's free they're usually packed with people. Be prepared ahead of time with everything you will need, but keep a close eye on what you bring in and what's going on around you. Things like baby shampoo, soap, a towel, and clothes are a MUST, because public hospitals won't provide any of it. If you don't bring soap or a towel, you will go home with a dirty baby with wet clothes because you had to dry it off with them. If you go to a clinic, be sure to know the circumstances of your labor and if it's absolutely necessary to have a C-Section if the doctor suggests it, because many have been deceived into the operation unnecessarily because it costs more than a normal delivery. Many doctors are just looking for more money. I'm not sure about the clinics in other cities, but at least in Otavalo, pain medication isn't given in clinics or in the hospital. Be prepared.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Jun 18, 2013 13:52

Hi, I'm wondering about giving birth to a baby in Ecuador if you are not a resident but just there on a tourist visa - are the hospitals free for giving birth if you're only a tourist? Thanks for any information!

KPink
Apr 10, 2014 12:15

This is a few years old so I don't know if I'll get a response, but I am considering having my baby in Manta, Ecuador. I would like to use a private clinic and I was wondering if you can give me idea of what costs you were facing when having your baby? I understand it might be a bit more now, but just so I have an idea or if you know anyone that has used a private clinic. Thanks!

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