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An Expat Talks about What is Was Like Having a Baby in Colombo, Sri Lanka

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

Colombo

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

2000

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...

Giving birth in Sri Lanka was overall an extremely positive experience. I gave birth at Joeseph Fraser, an all maternity hospital in Colombo. It is the only one of its kind and is most likely where all expats are directed. The facility was fairly up to date although pretty lax sanitary conditions. When I first arrived I was put on a bed in a waiting area where a stray cat and her young litter were sleeping in the bed next to mine! By that time I had been in Sri Lanka for four years and it didn't phase me a bit - I was more worried about what was coming next.

Because I had been in prelabor for three days I was induced with pitocin in an IV and I was given an epidural fairly early on. There was only one delivery room which is separate from the operating room where the epidural was administered. To get from one to the other I had to be wheeled on a gurney out through the main garden which was a bit unnerving although once the epidural kicked in it was sort of nice to be able to see the beautiful blue sky. I vaguely remember commenting about what a nice day it was (only on the way back mind you - on the way there I was doubled up in pain.) Also a note about epidurals - it seems they are fairly uncommon, at least when I was there. There is a lot of pressure on women, by their families, to not use them. Somehow you are not going through real childbirth if you go with the epidural. As an expat, I did not encounter that and my doctor was very neutral and left the decision entirely up to my husband and me.

The labor lasted about six hours and the nurses were very professional and patient. We had also hired a Canadian doctor friend to serve as our doula. We had to clear this with our Sri Lankan doctor, but he was very accommodating. The only drawback was the fact that there was only one delivery room. It had two beds very close to each other and only a curtain in between. There was another woman in early labor in the next bed and I still feel sorry that she had to watch me deliver (and I didn't hold back) knowing what was next for her. They had only just recently changed hospital policy to allow husbands to be with their wife during delivery. The woman next to me only had her mother with her but I'm not sure how I would have felt having her husband in on my delivery. Hopefully they have added another delivery room by now.

I was set to stay at the hospital for three days but only lasted about 24 hours after the birth. The rooms are not air conditioned and the matress on my bizarrely high bed (I needed a foot stool to climb up) was simply a thin foam pad covered in vinyl with a sheet draped on top. So, it was uncomfortable especially when I had an air conditioning and plenty of family help at home. Again the doctor was very accommodating and released me early.

Expat Health Insurance in Sri Lanka

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Expat Health Insurance in Sri Lanka

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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

The doctor was recommended by the US Embassy and he was excellent. He went to medical school in England and trained in NY. He was very professional and seemed to really listen to my opinion. I requested that he not perform an episiostomy and despite his initial misgivings he did not. I am still thankful for that as many of my friends in the US have requsted the same only to find after their delivery that the doctor went ahead and did it anyway.

Because this was my first child I had no idea what level of care I was recieving as compared to what I might recieve in the US. I had my second child in a US hospital with US doctors and in hindsight I realize how excellent my care really was and at less than a quarter the price for that matter.

I also mentioned that we hired a doctor friend to be with us in the delivery room. This was one of the best decisions we made. It was made clear to everyone that she was NOT there in a medical capacity so no toes were getting stepped on. She was there only to let us know what was going on and what to expect next. It gave us tremendous peace of mind.

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

Nothing

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

I would not hesitate to recommend staying in country to deliver. My only caveat would be if it is a high risk pregnancy as there were only five preemie bassinets in the city and they were at a different hospital. This may have changed by now and my guess is that if there were any doubt your doctor would be the first to recommend you leave.

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Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats ColomboExpats in Colombo

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Colombo.

Sri Lanka Index Colombo Index
An index of all of our site's Colombo information.

Sri Lanka Forum Sri Lanka Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Sri Lanka on our Sri Lanka forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Sri Lanka Network Contribute
Help others in Sri Lanka by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Sri Lanka.

Expat Healthcare Advice in Sri LankaHealthcare & Health Insurance in Sri Lanka

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Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Sri Lanka.

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