So in case you haven’t heard our news, we’re adding another explorer to our crew in just a few short months! We are beyond thrilled about our new addition and I can’t wait for those sweet baby snuggles coming soon. This will be our third baby abroad, but our first in Switzerland and I’m very curious to see how the experience here will compare with our first two in the Czech Republic.
Just to give you some background…I was seven months pregnant with our oldest when we moved to Prague. What an adventure! I was lucky to find a fantastic private doctor who provided top notch care, but the hospital experience left a lot to be desired. I remember first touring the hospital, which was in this dark and bleak post-Communist building. When I saw the delivery rooms with tiles covering the walls, I thought to myself…what have I gotten myself into?!
I have to say though that as nervous as I was, it was still a big relief to see the Czech Republic’s statistics on maternal and fetal health…far outranking the U.S. (which sadly doesn’t take much). And in the end everything was just fine. I had a great labor and delivery experience (aside from some goat giving birth at the same time as me just outside our window…the hospital was next to a forest. right then.). The only downside was the aftercare. It’s typical to stay in the hospital for 4 or 5 days after a natural birth and even longer for a c-section and let’s just say I was climbing the walls by the end and so ready to get out of there.
The nurses were very brusque and spoke zero English, often yelling at me in German when they saw the Czech was not getting through. Also not helpful as I unfortunately don’t speak German. The food was terrible and you should have seen the shock and horror when I told them I was a vegetarian. Their solution was to give me a regular meal with the main meaty entree removed so I subsisted on lots of yogurt, vegetables, and rohlik (white bread rolls) in those early days. So medically the care was completely fine and they took very good care of me and my baby…but for the hospital stay part, the personal side was just a bit hard to deal with. I was VERY ready to get home by the end of our stay!
By Baby Number 2 a couple of years later, things were so much easier. We knew the routine and what to expect, our Czech had improved and by then my husband could communicate quite effectively, and we had all of our favorite restaurants mapped out for pick up or delivery to the hospital in the days following the birth. I think the nurses were also a bit kinder to us as some of them remembered us and were also just less impatient since we were not complete newbies to the parenting gig this time around.
Also by the second I had learned that there is so much cultural attachment to labor, delivery, and postpartum care, and I realized that there were many things that would be different to my home culture…but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing! It was far easier for me to go with the flow the second time around.
Now flash forward to five years (!) since that last birth and we’re about to embark on this adventure again, only this time living in Switzerland. We recently took a hospital tour and suffice it to say that the hospital stay while be quite different this time around! The hospital is like a five-star hotel and the midwives we met could not have been any friendlier. You apparently choose your food from a menu every meal and everyone raves about how good it is. And rumor has it that after the birth you get to have a little tete-a-tete romantic dinner with your partner complete with champagne provided. It will be so interesting to have this experience to compare to our first two. Stay tuned in just a few short months to hear a report back on how it goes!