Tell me about pregnancy in your country.
September 21, 2015 3:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm pregnant, and I've read a range of US-centric books about being pregnant/having a baby. I'm now curious to look at resources about pregnancy in other countries. Thoughts?

Here's what would be fun to find out about being pregnant outside the US: the main book or books that pregnant women read in your country (OK if in another language, still interested); any websites that are popular with pregnant women in your country; birth stories (maybe by expats who see the differences?); any academic articles comparing birth in different countries; postpartum care/theories; and of course, your own experiences being pregnant and having a baby in another country.

I'm really curious about differences in hospital practices, food restrictions, epidurals, etc. in other countries too. Satisfy my curiosity!
posted by caoimhe to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might like the Cup of Jo Motherhood Around the World series! It doesn't focus on pregnancy or newborns, but some of the mothers do talk about it.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:11 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Up the Duff and Kidwrangling, both by Kaz Cooke. Very popular in Australia. Mrs M and I loved both of them, they're informative and witty.

"Up the Duff" is Australian (and British) slang for being pregnant.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 4:48 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Agree wholeheartedly with KirkpatrickMac. Both books are, if nothing else, great reads.
posted by antipodes at 5:03 AM on September 21, 2015

Mumsnet is apparently some sort of mega-hub of motherhood here in the UK.

One small difference I've seen as a non-haver-of-babies is that baby showers aren't so much of a "thing" here, although maybe they're starting to be. I went to one last year, it was weird.
posted by greenish at 5:10 AM on September 21, 2015

Tim Parks wrote about the differences between his English childhood and the Italian childhood his kids are growing up in in "An Italian Education." There's definitely some discussion of pregnancy and childbirth.
posted by PussKillian at 5:27 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and nitrous oxide on tap as pain relief. Definitely a standard thing in Australia. I understand that for whatever reason, it isn't in USA.
posted by antipodes at 5:28 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Paris to the Moon by American journalist Adam Gopnik has a chapter (or possibly more) on his wife giving birth to their second child in France, after having had their first in the U.S., and the differences they/he notices.
posted by jaguar at 5:33 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Want to read about 'natural' births? Here's an article for expats about pregnancy in The Netherlands.
posted by ouke at 5:40 AM on September 21, 2015

BabyCenter has a number of localized sites. You can see the full list by scrolling to the bottom of their main page.

You could, for instance, poke around on the chat boards for their India site and learn about ayurvedic oil massage, participate in gender speculation (prenatal sex determination is illegal in India, so it's all speculation), and look at baby photos.
posted by whitewall at 5:48 AM on September 21, 2015

Pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period in Norway from the Department of Health.

Here's impressions from a Canadian expat on giving birth in Norway.
Some additional thoughts from an American expat.
posted by Harald74 at 5:50 AM on September 21, 2015

Here is some basic info about having a baby in Belgium.
posted by colfax at 6:29 AM on September 21, 2015

Expat Life (With a Double Buggy) is a fairly well-known blog by a British woman who lives in the Netherlands and has often writes about maternity and pregnancy (though unfortunately browsing archived posts by tag doesn't work very well). She wrote this blog post, which summarizes most of the basics.
posted by neushoorn at 6:29 AM on September 21, 2015

The French pregnancy book is J'attends un enfant by Laurence Pernoud. The first edition was in 1956 and there are new editions every year. There's a companion book called J'élève mon enfant about raising a child from age 0 to 6.
posted by snakeling at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2015

There was a recent episode of The Longest Shortest Time that focused on a war correspondent being pregnant, giving birth, and raising a child in the Middle East.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:55 AM on September 21, 2015

I don't have links, but from discussions with friends from the US, the labor experience in Sweden seems most different in the following ways: even though hospital births are common, it's midwives that attend the birth unless there's some complication needing an obstetrician. Epidurals seem to use different medication, as the one in Sweden still allows you to move around, which you are encouraged to do throughout, assuming different positions and not lying on the bed. There are policies on limiting pitocin that are posted in the delivery room, so everyone can keep track of when pitocin needs to be stopped or reduced for a while (it it was used in the first place). During pregnancy, there seem to be a lot less tests in Sweden. The standard in Stockholm is just one ultrasound around weeks 18-20. More are given only for special reasons, e.g. to determine gestational age if need be, advanced maternal age, gestational diabetes. There's no keeping track of pregnancy hormones such as hcg or progesterone.
posted by meijusa at 8:10 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Up the Duff ... by Kaz Cooke.

Seconding this - the UK version is called The Rough Guide To Pregnancy & Childbirth in case that's easier to get.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:26 AM on September 21, 2015

I don't have a book but the main differences here in Germany is that I stayed in the hospital for 5 days, that's common- and we all get a daily visit from a midwife for the first 10 days when we get home, then a couple of times a week, then once a week... It's a 10 week programme. It was great to have that support since we're on our own over here!
posted by catspajammies at 9:03 AM on September 21, 2015

This is the pregnancy bible in France and French speaking countries. Mother and wife read it.

Oh, snakeling beat me to it.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2015

Denmark here (cue European song contest)
It's been a long time since I gave birth, and some things have changed, but generally midwives play a big part here, and you can easily deliver a child with no doctors around. You have the right to a home-birth if you want it, but they are not actively encouraged.
As in Holland, pregnancy is seen as a sign of health, not a disease.
Pre-delivery care is quite extensive, and also midwife-led, though you will see doctors as you need it, but at least 3 (maybe this has changed) times. You will be offered free maternity training.
Painkillers are not recommended during delivery, though nitrous oxide is often available. This is hotly contested - many young professionals want epidurals and are used to ordering in whatever they like. Some hospitals will offer pain-killers easily, in others you will have to fight for them.
Caesarians are not given without strong arguments, and while anxiety is on the list of arguments, there usually needs to be a relevant medical indication. This is also debated.
Unfortunately, today it is not rare to be thrown out of the maternity ward the day you give birth, but a child nurse will visit you very soon after you have given birth, and then as frequently as needed - formally until school-age, but if you are managing fine, they will focus on families with larger issues and only arrive on request at your home. Some struggling families see these nurses as a kind of maternity police, and to some extent they are. But they are also really helpful.

During your leave, the child nurse sets you up with other women in your neighborhood, so you can form a "mother-group" - a semi-formal support group.

After a years leave, you are very strongly encouraged to get your child into a daycare, in order for them to develop social skills, and for you to get a job. At the day-care, you will often run into your mother-group again.

I have two children, and during both pregnancies, I participated in a private maternity training class and a post birth training class rather than the public ones, because it was strongly recommended. I found a lot of friends there and the trainer was not only a good physiotherapist, but also a great mentor. (I also checked out the public ones, but found them less effective). Both times, I had severe nausea, and even lost weight the second time, so I really needed a support system beyond the basic offers.
In spite of these problems, pre-delivery care at the hospital was excellent, which is probably why they convinced me to participate in an experiment when it was discovered that my daughter was not going to change her breech position. They wanted to see how women could manage natural breech delivery under controlled circumstances. My personal experience of this was that it was mostly painful because I was locked in an awkward position and covered with sensors and monitors. So when my second child seemed to be entirely normal, I went for a chemical-free birth, and brought my best friend who is a midwife. It was really a good experience with in all 3 minutes of pain and a lot of nice philosophizing and happy post-delivery chatting.

As I remember it, the Finnish policies are really interesting, but I don't remember them in detail.
posted by mumimor at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2015

I'm in the UK. Some differences I've noticed compared to the experience of people I know who went through the US system:

- we have a very midwife-focused care system. Midwives aren't some hippy alternative to mainstream medicine, they pretty much are mainstream medicine for most of your interactions with the healthcare system while you're pregnant - they do antenatal care, they're usually there at births (including caesareans), they do postnatal care. My ultrasounds were done by midwives. You will typically only see an obstetrician during your pregnancy if you're high risk or have other health issues.

- pain relief drug options during birth isn't epidural or nothing - my hospital had nitrous oxide, diamorphine, remifentanil or epidurals. If you want an epidural, you sometimes have to wait a while for it before the anaesthetist is free, though.

- the only nurseries in the hospital are the ones for ill babies - NICU, HDU and SCBU. The expectation is that well babies stay with their mothers, day and night, including in the caesarean recovery room. Also most rooms on the postnatal ward are multi-bedded - mine was two-bedded, I have friends who were in six-bedded rooms.

- usually, when you get discharged from the hospital, the midwives will come to see you rather than vice versa. You're under midwife care for I think ten days normally - I got five visits in that time to check me and weigh and check over the baby. After that they hand over to health visitors (public health nurses, basically) who are meant to come out at least once and check everything is going smoothly. After the first few weeks, you go out to clinics if you want to see your heath visitor or get the baby weighed. Paediatricians here are hospital specialists, not doctors you'd routinely see.
posted by Catseye at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2015

Here's a post from the blog Sociological Images about the South Korean practice of "tae-gyo":

Koreans believe that a mother’s state of mind and ongoing education during pregnancy determines a baby’s prospects. Their educational and occupational future, even their personality, is dependent on what their mothers do while they’re pregnant. ... Accordingly, while the most common tae-gyo used to be listening to classical music, women are facing increasing pressure to do more and more for their child before it is born. During the past 20 years, tae-gyo has incorporated learning calligraphy or floral arrangement, crafts like knitting and sewing, and doing yoga. Expected mothers are doing English and math tae-gyo, meaning that they study English and do math for their unborn children to ensure that they will excel in those skills. Korea’s tourism industry have developed a “taegyo travel package,” which is supposed to be beneficial for babies in the womb.
posted by Corvid at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2015

I'm another US-Ian in the UK, and here's a big difference - it's all free. Dental care for pregnant women (unlike all other adults) is free, prescriptions are free (£8.20 otherwise), while pregnant and for a year after birth, as well as the midwife care and the health visitor home visits. I think rules for what you can eat and drink (or its recommended that you eat and drink) are different too. Here's the NHS page.
posted by mgrrl at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2015

Response by poster: These are so great -- thanks so much everyone!! SO MUCH FUN READING MATERIAL!
posted by caoimhe at 2:46 PM on September 21, 2015

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