10 things I can tell you about giving birth in Spain
(part 2 of 4)
A personal birth story
3. Avoid la sala de dilatación (lit: the dilation room), if at all possible by not turning up at the hospital too early (easier said than done the first time around, especially if you live out of the city and have a long drive to the hospital).
This is the place where you are put if you are not yet dilated enough to go to the birthing suite, and you could be sharing a room with four other women. These women will probably have their whole families in there to keep them company, despite notices up in all the corridors and rooms stating that there is a limit of two visitors per bed.
I was in with a woman whose waters had broken but whose contractions had not yet started. Her whole family was there watching the football in the room while I was dealing with my contractions. I just wanted to tell them all to f*** off.
4. You are only allowed one person with you for the birth.
I had considered employing a doula to be with me for the labour. It would have been great to have someone on my side who was fluent in Spanish, had a knowledge of the whole process, and who was not emotionally involved. But of course having Mr B there was more important. I couldn’t have both. I had to choose.
In the event it was surprising how much Spanish I could muster when under pressure. And I did realise and accept that the onus was on me to try. I chose to live here and have my baby here and I love the challenge and having the opportunity to learn Spanish. It is also worth noting that most doctors in Spanish hospitals that I have met speak good English.
5. Try to insist on having your partner with you at all times – if that is what you want of course.
Mr B and I got separated three times. On arrival I was taken off for prodding and poking (they had my legs in stirrups before you could say ‘where have my knickers gone?’) and after an hour he had to push his way in to find me. Later, I was taken from la sala de dilatación to the birthing room, he was in the loo and they refused to wait for him. Again he had to come and find me and push his way into the maternity ward. And finally, he was banished when Bibsey was delivered by ventouse – this is pretty standard I think, like when you have an emergency C-section.
I have read other stories online about women giving birth in Spain when couples have been separated on arrival and then the fathers have not been allowed in until after the birth. Can you imagine?
I am a first-time, full-time mum to Bibsey (born in Spain, Spring 2010) living up a mountain in Andalucía and blogging about it. My blog gives what I hope is a mostly entertaining perspective on life for an expat mummy in Spain: the ups and downs of living in Spain and the joys and humiliations of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. I believe there is no such thing as too much information so there may occasionally be a word or two on constipation, bowel movements and piles.
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