Friday, October 21, 2011

The Swiss Birthing Experience

Having given birth in both the U.S. and in Switzerland I can compare the pros and cons of each. I think overall I prefer the Swiss way of giving birth and other than the shared postpartum rooms (more on that later) I loved the way everything was done.

First of all the birthing rooms were awesome. Not only were they huge, but they were centered around a natural birth experience. I had everything I could have wanted from a tub, to a birthing ball, to midwives who practiced massage and acupuncture. I was also able to eat and drink all throughout my labor (unlike in the U.S. where I had to endure 16 hours of labor with Jack with no food or drinks). Also, I did not have to wear a hospital gown. I always hate the gowns that you have to wear in U.S. hospitals and expected to have to wear one here. But no one even asked me to change out of my clothes... Lily was born while I was still wearing the same dress that I showed up in.

The tub where Lily was almost born
Luke relaxing in the birthing room
As soon as Lily was born she was placed on my chest. No one ever tried to take her from me. When Jack was born I got to hold him for a few minutes and then they took him, weighed him, washed him, clothed him and then gave him to me screaming. This time they gave me Lily (slippery, slimy and all) and then left us alone for a couple of hours. Other than a few short cries when she popped out, Lily didn't cry at all during her first several hours of life. No one weighed her, washed her or took her from me. In fact they told me that they don't typically wash newborns for a while and instead they told me to rub the slippery white stuff into her skin as a type of lotion. After we had a couple hours to bond, they finally took her to get her weight and measurements and then they gave her right back.

After that I was brought up to the postpartum room. Typically you share a room with several (4 or more) women and their babies. I paid extra to have a semi-private room (2 people) but thankfully since I was the only one giving birth that day I had the room to myself. The postpartum rooms were really small and I can't imagine having to share it. This was the only part of the Swiss experience that I didn't like. In the U.S., private rooms are becoming standard and I was shocked to find that most people here have to share a room with several people or pay big bucks for a semi-private or private room. In fact I did not even have a bathroom in my room, it was down the hall and had to be shared by 4 people.
Jack in my bed

Just a few feet from me was the other bed. We also had
a sink (but no toilet) in our room)

Luke, Jack and Lily in my bed

I only stayed 2 nights at the hospital (5 is typical) but the two nights I stayed were very nice. In the US the nurses came into my room every few hours to check on me and Jack. Here, no one bothered us. If I needed a nurse I would have to call for her. Otherwise, I was left alone and it was great!

Lily finally had her first bath 36 hours after she was born. Jack's first bath was a terrible experience where the nurses were rough with him and he was screaming. Lily's first bath was great, they put her in a tub of water and she never even cried.
Lily enjoying her first bath

In the US it is a big "no no" to wash a baby
who still has their umbilical cord stump like this.
Jack had to endure several days of sponge baths
until his stump fell off. Lily has been able to take
normal baths right from the start

The bed they had for Lily was really comfy. Jack had a mattress pad and a fitted sheet and that was it. Lily had a mini-boppy to lay on as well as a nice comforter. I guess they are not as paranoid about babies sleeping spaces here.
Lily's bed

She sure looks comfy with her pillow and comforter.
You would never see this in the U.S. 

Such a good sleeper
The hospital also gave us a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate the birth.
Not only did they give me champagne,
but also gave me the green light to drink
beer and wine while breastfeeding.
(in reasonable amounts)
Lily's first visit with her pediatrician is not until 6 weeks, so until then Swiss insurance pays for a midwife to come visit me at home up to 8 times. Whenever I have questions or concerns I call the midwife and she comes usually once a week to weigh the baby and check for any problems.

I would have to say that the birthing experience here was very peaceful. When Jack was born I felt very stressed at the hospital. From the moment I got there until the moment I left the nurses and doctors were bugging me and then even when I went home I had so many "rules" about where baby should sleep, how often he should eat, etc that it was a very stressful experience. Everything about Lily's birth was very peaceful. The doctors and nurses left us alone for the most part and then didn't give me a list of rules for how to deal with a newborn. In fact they encouraged me to let her sleep in my bed if I wanted, encouraged me to let her sleep as long as she wanted as long as she keeps gaining weight, and trusted me to know how to deal with my baby. And, in fact, Lily is a very peaceful baby... hard to say if she would be such an easy baby if she had been born in a U.S. hospital. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jen! I love reading the differences between the two countries on giving birth, but I wanted to share some good news with you about the U.S. Maybe they are being influenced my Europe, but my birth with Ruby was much more similar to your birth with Lily, than it was with Wes. In just 2 years the views and procedures changed a bit. First, Ruby was also laid directly on me for as long as I wanted the second she came out and they left us alone to bond, nurse, etc... Also, her first bath was not right away in the Labor room, it was several hours later in the Maternity room. Of course she was not bathed in that super awesome tub like Lily though! :) Just wanted to share with you that things are not as "sterile" and cold as they used to be over here! Hope all is well and love the updates on your life in Switzerland! :)