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How Far Ahead to Start Planning for Birth?

Hi, I live abroad and am really struggling to find an experienced midwife or doctor. I'm already 22 weeks pregnant. Is it too late to think about coming back to England to give birth?

As it's my first baby, I don't have much of a clue how it's all organized, I guess it's all pretty beurocratic but also that the mum-to-be has to be super pro-active in getting the attention she needs.

It would only be an absolute last resort as I'd have to quit my job, make a long haul flight and do the whole thing without my husband by my side.

7 Replies

My friend gave birth in Spain to her first child. She didn't (and still doesnt) speak a word of spanish but her partner did so he helped her with all the appointments.

She hated every minuite of it because she was convinced that her partner wasnt telling her everything they said and being your first you want to understand everything.

Since giving birth she moved back to the UK for different reasons but she said it was the best decision she ever made.

Im not sure if language is a problem for you, hopefully not!

Have you spoken to some locals who have had a baby recenty? Try finding some baby groups or visit a local schol and ask the women there what their experiences are like.

As its your first baby, i wouldnt suggest leaving your husband, your going to need him by yourside and im sure hed like to be their for the birth of his first baby too.

In all honesty, im havig trouble finding out how everything is organised too, and im in the UK! haha

Good Luck hun x


Thanks Michelle for taking the time to answer my question. It's really nice to know there's someone listening out there!

Thankfully the language isn't a major problem, although I get the feeling some receptionists try to use it as an excuse for double booking my appointments.

The real problem is the cesarian rate here. I don't even know if you'll believe me - it's 95%. I want a totally natural birth, but the hospitals simply don't have room as it takes so long. Cesarian is done and dusted in half an hour. And consequently the doctors don't have a clue when it comes to natural births. What they're calling a "normal birth", the alternative to the cesarian, involves a huge cocktail of drugs and culminates in them either slicing your vagina open, or resorting back to a cesarian after all. And then quarantining you and your baby seperately in a windowless place that feels like solitary confinement. And my cheap and to my mind less stressfull idea of just having a midwife and no doctor has been dismissed as out of the question.

However, today, by some miracle, I found a spiritualist place which is absolutely perfect and does it just the way I want! And they're free, even to foreigners, which makes me feel a bit miffed that I've been paying all this time for a special health care plan which was meant to cover the best maternity wards in town, but anyway, what's important is that I'm finally going to get what I want. I just fealt like writing to let you and whoever else know my good news. I feel like any minute I'm going to wake up and it was all a dream!

Good luck with your baby - how far along are you? I'm sure you'll get everything organized in the end. Note all your questions down in your diary as you think of them, and take it to your appointments, ticking off as you get the answers. And make it your business to probe to find out if there's anything that requires you to provide a written authorization from your doctor, even if it's something your doctor himself has sent you to, as he might just forget to give you the note to take with you. I can't really go too much into it as, for all I know, it's probably all different in England!


Gosh, where are you? Those are some scary cesarian rates!!

Only thing I'd suggest is double checking whether your nice birthing place will transfer you anywhere else if you have a complicated birth. If you immediately get transferred to cesarian heaven and quarantine, I'd be booking my flights home! If they're adequately set up to deal with it in-house, then no worries.

If you're unsure what care is fairly standard (in the civilised world!!), I'd start looking into it on the NHS website. Then have a chat to your nice place about what you can expect from them.

Hopefully that will help you to be sure you're making the right decision before your window for travel closes - BA policy link attached - it's fairly standard across most airlines

All the best

R x


Thanks rmh for the airline link (I already had the cut off date marked in my diary actually!). My main concern though was how to get myself booked in with a midwife and find out what else I'm meant to be doing when I get there in terms of paper work and God knows what.

The birthing centre has an ambulance parked outside ready to take patients to hospital if they need. They told me the name of the hospital, so I'm going to check it out. I don't know if I then get public or private treatment, but I know what documents I've to show for private. I wasn't too impressed with the private treatment (as I described above), so I dread to think what public is like. I imagine when you're in an emergency like that you willingly accept any help you can get. I did speak at length with the staff at the centre though, and they only end up having to send less than 1% to hospital, unlike the popular system where they use any excuse skip to cesarian. They also have in-house doctors in case mine can't make it. I should get to meet my new doctor in a fortnight.... in fact I might ask if I can have one of their doctors take over my anti-natal care, I don't know if that's a bit of a crazy idea but I could ask.

Thanks again for your concern. Oh, as you were asking, I'm in Brazil. Yea, the cesarian rate is shamefull - blatently ignoring the World Health Organization guidelines, but mums-to-be just go along with it, I think because until very recently it's been hard to access information in Portuguese. But hopefully, now Gisele Bidchen has had her home birth, which the government tried to ban and there was outrage on the streets, things might have begun to stir up a bit. I've met loads of women who want a natural birth, but whether they get that or not is another question - I really hope so.


Wow! Not only ignoring WHO guidelines, but also not reported in WHO statistics - which report nothing as high as 50% in any country. WHO also concluded that there was a profit motivation for many countries where the cesarean rates were high. Mind you, it wasn't the only cause for high rates - many women thought that it was safer than natural birth because it was common, so it becomes the cultural norm to request an invasive procedure with loads of risks attached. Lack of appropriate information is a scary thing!!

Sounds like you've got it all under control, and I think you'd be really unlucky to be part of the 1% transferred to hospital. Still, always good to know what your worst case scenario looks like! :)

Best of luck meeting your new doctors and switching antenatal care.

R x


Oh, meant to say - don't think it would be too much of an issue coming back to UK under your circumstances. Probably speak to your local GP or hospital maternity ward just to talk through what requirements you'd need to get in place, and what information you might need to bring with you. I presume you'd be staying with family? If so, they could even discuss on your behalf. R x


Absolutely! I myself started considering a C-section at one point, which is not me at all, because it was looking so unlikely that I'd ever find someone who'd actually delivered one before. I'd approaced several practitioners asking about a "normal birth" before I realized what I actually was looking for was a "humanized birth".


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