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Having a Baby in Spain - Part 2 - Growing Pains

By Jo Green - Fri 31st Jul 2009

The following 9 months were filled with many ups and downs. The first 3 months were a blur - although I didn’t suffer with sickness I felt exhausted almost all the time (And working 3 Mornings a week right up to the day before I gave birth didn’t help!) I had not been to the doctor for years, but as soon as I was confirmed pregnant all that changed with visits to the midwife every 3 weeks. She checked my weight gain, blood pressure, took a urine sample and took care of mine and my unborn babies’ general health. At 13 weeks I had my first scan at the main Hospital, I was nervous as you would expect, but it all went well. The Doctors & Nurses were great and very patient with my Spanglish, and it was a relief to know that everything was ok. We came away very elated with 2 wonderful scan pictures, it was at this point that it started to finally sink in that we were having a baby!

By this stage we had read about 5 or 6 baby books each and felt like experts (Well,on paper anyway) We were ready for my next scan at 20 weeks - you could see the baby very clearly and again the Doctors and Nurses were great. It is generally taken for granted that parents in Spain wish to know the sex of their baby - to the surprise of our nurse we decided not to, and she made sure that this fact was recorded on my Health report book (Which Oddly,is kept in the Patient’s possession as opposed to at the Hospital) so that any future Doctors, Midwives and Nurses would not let slip any news that we didn’t wish to hear. Calling the unborn baby “He “, we were told, was standard practice regardless of the actual sex of the Baby and that we shouldn’t read too much into this phraseology.

At 30 weeks I began weekly ante-natal classes where I received help and advice on the birth and caring for the baby for the first hour, the second hour was for stretching, exercise and relaxation. This was great fun and gave me a chance to talk to the mother mums - although the classes were in Spanish, I learnt a lot and would recommend them to any Mum-to-be - even if you have problems with the language. Just for peace of mind I also attended a few English speaking anti natal classes at our local Private clinic, and this put my mind at rest and ensured that I was ready for the birth. These classes were invaluable and I made a good friend, (who sadly has now moved back to the UK) and I started to feel prepared and ready for the big event.

During the final 5 weeks I started to experience very high blood pressure, which my midwife was concerned about. I was told to go to my local Pharmacy every day to have my Blood Pressure checked and if and when it exceeded a certain reading I had to go to the Accident & Emergency Department at the main Hospital. I needed to do this 5 or 6 times in total , and when I was seen at the A&E I was just put on a heart rate & Blood Pressure monitor for an hour to see if my pressure came back down to an acceptable level. Fortunately it always did – although I never did find out what would have happened if it did not. Both the Doctor at the main Hospital and the Midwife at the local clinic told me to rest and put my feet up. For me this was impossible - I was having a baby and I naturally wanted everything to be perfect, I was shopping for everything baby related, decorating the nursery, cleaning like I had never cleaned before and still working part-time. Even though my Doctor was concerned for my Blood Pressure I had never felt better, so it felt unnatural to slow down.

A week before the baby was due, I made another trip to the main Hospital due to my Blood Pressure being found to be high, and the Doctor decided this was it - One way or another the baby would be with us in a matter of hours ! My Boyfriend was quickly despatched to collect the Emergency Hospital bag from Home and told to come back prepared for a lengthy stay.

I was taken straight to the maternity ward and put in a quiet room with just one other Mum to be, where I spent a restless night. By Partner was also made (Literally!) To stay with me in the room, and kindly provided with a Plastic Patio chair to “Sleep“ on. The next morning after breakfast I was taken straight down to have my Pressure monitored again and we were told that the labour would be “brought along “.

6 Hours later we were in the Birthing room (If that is the word) preparing for the final few minutes labour and the actual delivery. I was in quite a bit of discomfort and sent my partner off to ask for an epidural for me. I expected one to be offered to me, but they are very strongly discouraged in Spain for some reason and he had to endure a lecture of the pro’s and con’s and sign a disclaimer before they would let me have one (All the time I was shouting at him to get a move on !) It would be wise for anyone in the early stage of pregnancy to discus this with their Doctor early on and ensure that notes are made on your Health book to speed things along incase you are unable to communicate your wishes during labour.

Because of my Blood Pressure problems I was kept wired to a machine for the last few hours of labour and couldn’t move about as I wanted to, and this together with the discomfort made the hours drag. I eventually gave birth to a beautiful baby girl of 6lb’s

After the birth we were returned to the room in the Maternity wing and My Partner was shown the basics of caring for our daughter whilst I rested. After spending a sleepless night on an uncomfortable chair he was looking forward to going home to a comfy bed and coming back first thing in the morning to take us all home. However, the Doctor said that “We“ - Meaning all 3 of us – would not be discharged for another 3 Days and Nights! At the end of my 4 Days in bed resting, I obviously still felt very tired and sore, and needed his help and support when I got back home - but after 4 Nights without any sleep at all It seemed that he needed me to look after him ! (I still believe that it would have been much better if the Doctors had asked him to stay on the first night before the birth, and then the night after the birth and then sent him home to have a good couple of nights sleep so he was in good shape to look after us both when we came away from Hospital )

Overall the Doctors & Nurses at the hospital were fantastic and I have the highest respect and praise for them - they have a difficult and responsible job to do, dealing with first time mums and newborn babies. The Hospital itself was quite old and in need of a lick of paint, but a new Hospital was in the process of being built further up the road and I suppose it wouldn’t have made much sense for them to keep throwing money at a building that would shortly be closing. In any case, the facilities themselves were good, the Building was kept spotlessly clean and the standard of care was very good – what’s a few cracked tiles and worn carpet here and there? – As my Partner said: I was there for the standard of care and not Inspecting a Hotel.

Comment on this Blog

Speaking spanish isn't the problem, as we are both quite proficient, I am just a bit worried that the choice is so limited. Ideally I would love a home water birth but there is n option for that at all. But I am sure it will all be fine. Thanks for reply..xx I am going to look at your other blogs too.x
Sadie Mills - Fri, 9th Jul 2010
Great news Sadie ! it's true that my hospital may have been a little behind the times with equipment and the fabric of the building, but the cleanliness and overall treatment was fantastic. I would also recommend that you and your partner discuss what you may wish to do with regards to an epidural in advance, as when the time comes, the nurses are usually quite reluctant to offer one. If your partner can at least brush up on the appropriate phrases he may be able to be quite persuasive on your behalf. Let us know how you get on ! ( If you click on my photo, above, you can see my full catalogue of blogs on this subject )
Jo Green - Fri, 9th Jul 2010
That was a great article, thanks Jo. I am living in Ibiza and due to have my first baby in just 4 weeks. We too are hoping for a natural birth in the state hospital and it great to hear a positive story regarding this care. I have been told that the hospital here are very archaic in their ways and I should be prepared to be shaved and given an episiotomy as standard! This I do not want, so am doing everything in my power to stop this. So wish me luck and I'll let you know how it all goes very soon. We too, opted for not knowing the sex of our child, but to our dismay were just told on the 13 week scan! We are pleased to know we have too have a little girl, but would have loved to save the knowledge as a surprise. But, we waited 4.5 years to get blessed with a child, so am happy anyway! Thanks again for your great info..x
Sadie Mills - Fri, 9th Jul 2010

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