10 things I can tell you about giving birth in Spain
(part 1 of 4)
A personal birth story
The following is based on my experience of giving birth and the experiences of some other women I know who have given birth here in Spain.
Although I have of course heard positive stories, the internet is also littered with stories of unpleasant birth experiences here. I know that when I was pregnant, I chose not to read them and tried not to listen to too many negative birth stories. It was my first baby (therefore, I have nothing to compare it with) and I wanted a natural birth. I wanted to be calm and positive and to give my body and my beautiful baby the best chance to do what I thought should come naturally.
1. The medical staff on duty at the hospital were apparently not interested in my birth plan – written in Spanish and English.
While I was still remotely in charge of myself I should have insisted on talking it through with the midwife. I feel a little foolish now thinking back to some of the hopes and requests that I put down in the plan. Not because they were naive or unrealistic (there was nothing in there that I hadn’t been led to believe was possible in my antenatal classes), but because it all went out of the window so fast.
2. The procedures were incredibly invasive from the start.
I was handling my contractions well until they gave me my first internal examination. This went on forever and involved stirrups and a lot of poking by various people who were not introduced to me. It was stressful, frightening and painful and I was on my own. My partner, Mr B, had been banished (see point 5). It was while I was in this position that I started to find that I couldn’t cope with the contractions. It was also in this position and during a contraction that a doctor asked me if I would be wanting an epidural. I asked if we could wait to discuss it – meaning after the contraction – and that was the last I saw of him until many many many long hours later.
Despite requesting in my birth plan that I should be allowed to move around during labour, the staff more-or-less insisted that I be on my back so that they could monitor the baby. This was in the early stages when there really was no medical justification. The baby’s heartbeat was fine, but it seems to me that, for their own convenience rather than my own comfort, they used scare tactics to keep me immobile on the obstetric bed.
Finally on this point, of the very small sample of women who I have spoken to here in Spain, a surprising number of their babies were delivered by ventouse. The woman in the bed next to me also had a ventouse delivery. This is not comprehensive, rigorous research but I think that it is quite telling. It seems to me that they are little bit suction-cup-happy here.
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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