Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Having a Baby Abroad (part 3), NHS, midwives, home births.

We had the option to pay for private doctors for this childbirth. To be honest, going that route would still have been far less expensive than having a baby on the Anthem individual policy I had back in America. I never ruled it out, but after our first "booking appointment" with our community midwives, there was no need to consider going private. Even if I'd chosen to pay for private care, I'd still be delivering at the same hospital, with the same doctors as if I'd stayed NHS, as most private doctors also work for the NHS. Besides, I'm healthy and low-risk and, again, pregnant ... not sick.

I mentioned in previous blogs that we were surprised when our first appointment wasn't until I was already 8 weeks along, the reason being that there's nothing they could do for me at that early stage, other than make me take my clothes off and shove an ultrasound machine in places I'd prefer they not shove anything. The waiting-till-8-weeks thing took some getting used to as I'm used to seeing lima-bean ultrasounds from friends on Facebook, but ultimately the waiting made a lot of sense -- and put me in a much better place about the pregnancy. You see, I'd been slightly terrified, and hearing the midwives' calm attitude made me feel better.

Why midwives and not obstetricians? Well, assuming you don't have any major health issues and your pregnancy goes smoothly, you are tended to by midwives over here -- the way pregnant women have been for most of history. If there are any signs of a problem, you are sent to an obstetrician.

I did end up seeing an obstetrician for a bit (more about that in another blog), but the majority of our appointments have been at the neighborhood midwife centre, a short walk from our apartment. The main difference from most US care seems to be a glass half-full approach. Rather than scare you with all that could possibly go wrong, they try to keep you healthy, while watching out for warning signs of potential problems. 

Our first appointment was with the kindest midwife I've ever met. Her name was Ruth, and she spent almost an hour with us.

Let me repeat that: one hour.

When is the last time you ever had a doctor in the US spend more than ten minutes with you? Ruth was in absolutely no hurry, and after taking a urine sample and four vials of blood (see, they do actual medical testing here in these backwoods parts of the world0, she took both mine and David's complete family medical history, discussing how different conditions could play a role in our medical care. For example, when I told her my mother had had a DVT at one point, she explained that the obstetrician might want to see me to further check my bloods, as DVT's are often hereditary and more likely during pregnancy.

To further freak you out, one of the very first questions we were asked was: Do you want a home birth?  I'm pretty sure David and I guffawed mightily with great American disdain. To be honest though, at this point, if we had a few more months of pregnancy, I think we'd both be wanting a home birth. For the sake of keeping our families calm (and the fact that the birthing rooms at the Royal Infirmary resemble a Napa Valley day spa), we'll be going to the hospital to give birth. But the fact that home births are offered to those who want them (and are low risk) is a huge advancement in care, if you ask me.

Has having this baby abroad turned us into crazy hippies? Not any more than usual. Like I said before, it has just made me more comfortable with the basic fact that my body is designed to have babies. It's been a much more relaxing pregnancy than I ever could have imagined, and I'm pretty sure that's all due to the quality of care I've received.

Next time on "Having a Baby Abroad"   : why I get sent to an obstetrician and ... spending time with a few doctors in the Royal Infirmary.

Previously on NHS/Baby Abroad blogs:  Part One: Having a Baby Abroad
                                                          Part Two: Registration, Doctors, Midwives, etc.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog and I found it because I would love to live in Edinburgh even it was only for a few months. I just wanted to say, I am an American and when I was pregnant with my daughter, 16 years ago in NY, I was told not to come in for my 1st appt. until I was 8 weeks pregnant. And I was only seen with a mid-wife even though I called a Dr. to make an apt. I never saw the Dr. and the min-wife even delivered my baby... I ended up hating her and only had a real exam with the Dr. after my baby was born but this is pretty comon in the US, and I had regular insurance.