My ‘Bucharest baby’
When we found out that we were going to give birth to our baby in Bucharest I was excited (my baby would have a story to tell every time he opened his passport!) but also slightly nervous….mainly because we didn’t actually live in Bucharest…yet! We arrived in Bucharest five weeks before my baby was due but, thanks to hours scouting around the internet and online conversations with members of Bucharest Moms, I somehow felt prepared.
I had health insurance from my employer and so knew that I was planning to give birth in private hospital. In Bucharest most private hospitals have a ‘birth package’ of some sort that you sign up for. This package can include various things from ante-natal appointments and a meeting with the anesthetist (it is assumed that you will have an epidural, if not a planned c-section) before the birth, to the delivery itself and post-natal care whilst in hospital for you and your baby (this sometimes can include meals and a bed for your husband/mother too). The number of days covered in hospital for you and your baby can vary, and some packages can include intensive care treatment where needed. I choose Regina Maria and their VIP package as I had received good feedback from other mums about the hospital and it was not far from where we were planning to live.
As well as choosing a hospital and package, I found that I needed to choose my gynecologist who would see me during my pregnancy and deliver my baby. There are many gynecologists working in Bucharest, but I was able to narrow my choices down by looking at the ones that worked at my chosen hospital, and then looking at the ones who advocated natural birth. Most women in Romania give birth by planned c-section, but I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth if possible. I chose Dr Romila Marius as again I had received positive feedback from others who had used him, and from what I was able to read online he seemed to be positive about natural birth (I had to choose my gynecologist without meeting him because of the timing of our move to Romania just five weeks before birth).
When we finally arrived in Romania for my husband’s job, I quickly visited the hospital to sign the birth contract and made an appointment to meet my gynecologist. I was pleased on both counts with the choices I had made and was able to relax slightly!
In preparing for giving birth in Bucharest I had discovered the White Cross Foundation and was very excited by what they were offering. We visited within our first week and signed up for some one-to-one ante-natal classes (as I didn’t have enough time to join their group classes). Even though this was my second child, I found the ante-natal classes very useful to get the perspective of a Romanian on natural and assisted birth and to find out more about giving birth here. The class tutor was also a trained doula, and we asked her to support us at the birth itself. This was something we did not have with our first child, but felt the right choice for us here as it meant we felt confident going in to the birth as we would have an advocate to support us.
After all this preparation we finally had a few weeks to enjoy Bucharest, and a few extra days as my son decided he didn’t want to arrive on time! When it came to the birth itself I had enough time to wait for my husband to come home before we called the Regina Maria ambulance (part of our package included their services) to take us to the hospital. The ambulance staff were very good – even when helping me walk the last 100m to their ambulance as they could not park any closer because of the roadworks (well, this is Romania after all!).
When I arrived at the hospital I was checked by the doctor and they accessed my notes and examined me. As my contractions were so close by that stage they told me that I did not have time for an epidural but would be taken straight to the birthing room. When they started to move me upstairs we met our doula who had already arrived (we had called her at the same time as calling the ambulance) and once we were upstairs Dr Romila was already there too.
The birthing room had a fully adjustable bed, birthing ball and birthing pool. With the support of my doula we were generally left to get along with things ourselves by the midwife and this was my preference. After a few hours of labour I was told that I could have an epidural if I wanted (yes please!) as I clearly had time. It was soon after this that my son was then born.
After the birth we stayed together in the birthing room to recover, but then my son was taken to be weighed and measured and clothed (the hospital provide baby clothes – and clothes for the mum too!) and I was taken back to my room. Throughout your stay you have the choice of whether to have your baby in a cot beside your bed in your room, or in the nursery (and then you are woken by the nurse to feed them). I found that the lead nurses and doctors spoke English to me without any problems, but other nurses and staff there had limited English. On the whole this was not a problem though.
Our stay was slightly longer than most mums and babies as my son spent a little time in the ICU being assessed by the doctors and receiving intravenous antibiotics. I was pleased with the care and communication from the doctors and nurses there about my son’s progress and of course was delighted when he was able to come home with me.
For me and my family, giving birth in Bucharest was the right choice (even if it was just five weeks after arriving) and we were happy with the service that we got at every stage. For us, it was especially important to have Adina, our doula, at the birth, and to know that we were in a hospital equipped to support babies needing intensive care.
Your Bucharest baby?
Health insurance – make sure you find out what they will cover
Choose your hospital – it is possible to visit the hospital and view their rooms and facilities
Choose your birth care package – look at what is covered and consider what is best for you
Choose your gynecologist – you will have to check that the gynecologist will work out of the hospital you have chosen…..depending on your preference you might want to choose your gynecologist first, then hospital and then package.
Ante-natal activities – yoga, pilates, ante-natal classes, or even just meeting other mums by visiting the baby and toddler groups before your baby arrives! Consider meeting a doula or breastfeeding councilor.