Expat Advice: Having a Baby in
One expat shares her story about having a baby in Colombia. She advises that you return to the States if your pregnancy is high risk, because if the baby is born very early it would be flown by medevac to the States.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
How recently did you give birth in the country that you are reporting on?
9 months ago (April 2012)
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...
The two hospitals we were recommended were Clinica del Contry and Fundaction Santa Fe. We chose Fundaction Santa Fe because the doctor we liked was associated with FSF.
I ended up having to have a C-section because of preeclampsia, so I can't speak to the process for a vaginal delivery. During the hospital tour I had (before I knew I'd be having a C-section), We saw the delivery area. They have separate rooms for labor, delivery and recovery. The labor rooms seemed small, but were private. The delivery area is kept separate for hygiene, and the recovery room was a shared rooms with several beds. There was also a LDR, where you can do all three in one place, with a private shower, but there's only one, so if it's already in use you are out of luck.
I was in the hospital for four days total. The first two days I was a shared room with two other people. It was difficult to sleep and the cabinets with the supplies were next to my bed, so there was a lot of traffic. There was a chair for my husband, but they didn't bring cots for family members. The second two days I was in the maternity ward in a private room with a shower and toilet. It was much more comfortable. They have rooming-in in the maternity ward, but my son was in the NICU so I didn't get to experience that. The rooms in the maternity ward have a fold-out chair that my husband slept in one night, but he didn't sleep well, so we didn't repeat that.
The biggest problem was the pain after my surgery. It took a long time (three hours, I think) to get them to bring me the morphine - it was geting to the point that I was shivering and my teeth were chattering from the pain. My husband had to threaten to complain to the on-duty nurse's supervisor. We were later told that Colombian hospitals are overly conservative with pain medications because they are afraid of getting people addicted.
Our son was in the NICU for a month. The staff was great, but it's not like a NICU in the States - there are no armchairs, and you can't just hold the baby whenever you want. I didn't get to hold my son until he was 8 days old. They don't allow wheelchairs in, so if you can't walk, you can't go see the baby (I couldn't walk until day three). Everyone has to leave when they are checking in a new baby or if they are doing procedures, so it's really unpredictable whether you'll actually get to spend time with the baby. Some days we were there for four or five hours but only got to see the baby for 30 minutes or so.
How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?
My husband works for the Embassy, so we went off the list of recommended doctors that they gave us.
If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?
No, I don't think so. There were things I wish had been different, but one only has so much control over such situations.
If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting, what advice would you give her?
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, I would recomment returning to the States. The NICU staff at FSF are great, but if our son had been born much earlier, he would have needed to medevac to the States, where the equipment and medical technology are better. They were fine for his condition, but the NICU chief told us that if the babies are smaller than two pounds, it's more difficult for them, whereas in the States one-pound babies often do just fine.
Also, make sure if you deliver in Colombia that you have your husband advocating for you.
More Expat Advice about Having a Baby in Colombia