An Expat Talks about What is Was Like Having a Baby in Brussels, Belgium
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?
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...
Overall it was pleasant. I used an mostly expat hospital as I am a native English speaker, mostly for convenience to my home. (Edith Cavell)The doctor was not as open / offering as normally what I am used to: I always felt that she was not telling me any details unless I probed heavily. I think that this was partially a cultural thing, as she stated that the baby is the primary concern, but it made me a little on edge the entire time. Overall, the pain management was good and my delivery was seamless, and I had an epidural also. The hospital stay was 5 days and absolute heaven. They will insist on emphasizing breastfeeding exclusively and will support you in this endeavor unless you specifically have a reason against it.
How did you choose your doctor, midwife or other type of medical professional?
I called the Brussels Childbirth Trust for a list of English speaking doctors by hospital location. The BCT is a group that assists English speakers in locating resources, and they also teach pre-birth classes and a variety of classes that were invaluable.
Another way to find doctor recommendations is to call your local embassy as they normally keep a listing, especially if you are not a fluent French or Flemish speaker.
If you were to have another child in this country, would you do anything differently in terms of preparation and/or the delivery?
Belgium is very kid friendly and you will have resources available just by asking anyone for advice, if you do this politely. A couple of points: Belgium is extremely expensive for maternity items like clothing and also for baby items. Some people drive to Germany or other countries for better prices on bulk items, especially Aachen Germany, just an hour away.
Store hours: As nothing is open on Sundays and store hours close at 6:30-7 PM in the evening, you really need to stay ahead of your supplies or medicine. It is not convenient at all in this regard. Limited selection: the selection for baby equipment (furniture as an example) is not like other countries, so ask for recommendations and be prepared to do some internet research !
Professional career maternity attire: I went back to my home country (USA) and did my clothing shopping there as there was a much better selection. I really could not find much clothing that was not considered more than nice casual and have loaned out my clothing to co-workers 4 times in 18 months as it is so expensive!
Daycare: It fills up literally 9 months plus in advance so you MUST look and sign up / interview as soon as you are expecting.
If a friend of yours living in the same country were expecting a baby, what advice would you give her?
Upon notification of pregnancy: get started on daycare options.
Take lessons in the language immediately if you do not speak this, if only for your comfort during the process. Also, your daycare mostly will speak only in French or Flemish to your child if you need to use this option.
Be prepared, most appointments are without clothing, which is different from my country!
Make sure the people sending you presents from other countries pay the VAT tax as you will be charged for the value of your "gift". Hours are inconvenient for the many doctors appointments, especially if you have a full time job, talk to your boss early about the need for flexibility.
Relax: the healthcare system here is excellent and your journey will be very pleasant and supported!