Foreign birth

I never thought much about how having a baby in a different country might be. People usually ask about the safety factor, which I feel is a non-issue here in South Africa. The hospital is exactly like one you would find in any city in the US, if not fancier. So the surprises have come in the little details. Like no internal exams during any prenatal appointment—not until active labor! Not that I’m complaining, exactly. I just liked knowing how things were progressing towards labor there those last weeks. They also won’t check for Group B strep until labor starts, which means they don’t get the results for 3 days after birth—great for knowing what’s wrong if a baby ‘crashes’, but not so good for preventing it from happening! And then for the hospital, we are required to bring our own chux pads (waterproof “linen saver” pads for the bed), diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, rubbing alcohol (required for umbilical cord care, which US hospitals don’t even do any more). We even have to purchase disposable underwear from the hospital pharmacy prior to admission!!! The baby can’t be bathed in water until after 24 hours, but is rubbed down with rubbing alcohol directly after birth instead. The husband/dad can’t sleep at the hospital and visiting hours are just 4 hours per day divided between morning, afternoon and evening (though the dad can stay all day) and there’s a ‘compulsory rest time’ for moms from 2-4pm where no one is allowed in the rooms. How bizarre it all seems to us! I’m starting to wonder if I don’t need to let go of all my assumptions and past experiences of childbirth and just roll with the punches here—this may be my 4th pregnancy, but I’m a first-timer to South African ways. And Toto, we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore!


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