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An Expat Talks about What is Was Like Having a Baby in Montesilvano, Pescara, Italy

Jan 24, 2019


An expat mom who had a baby in Italy talks about finding a doctor willing to assist with a homebirth, the birth and follow-up care.

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

Montesilvano, Pescara

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

March 2018 (9 months ago)

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 had a home waterbirth in Italy, not common for my area of Abruzzo. When I was 7 months pregnant, I was actually looking for a doula, which is also not common in this area, and didn't know much about homebirths. I was only convinced that I wanted a waterbirth (I love bathtubs and warm water).

When I was in my birthing class, I learned that two of the nearby hospitals in Pescara and Chieti had bathtubs, and Chieti only had one bathtub. Since it was on a first come first serve basis, I wasn't guaranteed a spot. In class, we were given tips that we have the right to not have the baby taken away from us, and not to be rushed in the process at the hospital. At that point, it started to seem unnatural to go to the hospital, so when I finally found an obstetrician to assist at home, it felt right.

I had strong contractions for four days, and 24 hours before my daughter was born I had the type of contractions in which you can't talk through them. We called the doctor in the early morning after I had trouble sleeping all night, and by the time she arrived I was already 8 cm dilated. We had music on in the background, and an inflatable birthing tub in the living room. My doctor was the best -- I went at my own pace and she told me I was "brava" the entire time. I sucked on oranges and she gave me some homeopathic drops for the pain. They even took photos with my professional camera!

My baby was actually born with her cord around her neck, and my doctor didn't even alarm me about it. She stayed a full 24-hours after my daughter was born, and did 4 additional home visits to make sure she was gaining weight, latching on, etc. It was a very complete service and I would 100% do it again just for the support I was given!

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

When I was looking for a local doula, I instead found a center called Il Melograno in Pescara. There I was recommended to speak to the only doctor in the area (90 minutes away) who they knew of and did homebirths instead. This doctor informed me about homebirths, how monitoring went during pregnancy, etc., and that's when I decided that it seemed right. She actually ended up getting really sick the Monday before I was due (I gave birth on a Thursday) so I was recommended to another doctor, but who lived 2.5 hours away. It's crazy looking back at it now, but I'm actually so happy I was recommended the new OB who helped deliver my baby -- we love her so much that we even have brought her for check-ups as an excuse to spend time together.

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 have relaxed more. They love pregnant women in Italy! Most women actually wear a necklace with a bell when pregnant. You have priority to go to the front of the post-office line or at the supermarket. Having bloodwork done here was a breeze at the hospital too.

I actually didn't tell most people here I was having a home birth because I didn't want to be criticized or asked so many questions (the most common one was "is it safe?"). I'm not sure if I'd tell or not tell people if I do it again. It's a personal choice but I felt there was so much stressing commentary.

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

I'd tell her to shrug off the opinions people impose on you, and to not take it personally. For example, don't worry if you don't want to know the sex, or if you don't want to share the name.

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If you're an expat parent who had a baby abroad, write a report about your childbirth experiences to help other expecting expat parents.

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