When my husband and I decided to get pregnant with our first child in Brazil, we made sure that we had several things in place before embarking on this new journey. My husband is Brazilian and knows the ups and downs of the healthcare system and although Brazil has a public healthcare system; one of his priorities was to have a good job with healthcare insurance because the public system is still lacking in many ways. So as you read my experiences keep this in mind; this is only one person’s perspective of Sao Paulo’s healthcare system.
After only a couple of months of trying to get pregnant I missed my period. My first instinct was to go get a home pregnancy test but my husband said they were really expensive and it was best just to go get my labs drawn because our insurance covers such costs. So we went to the lab and had my blood drawn. A couple of days later it was confirmed; I was super pregnant. Our next mission was to find a doctor. My husband’s sister had lived in Sao Paulo for several years and her OB/GYN spoke english and was well-educated; so we decided to go to her.
We are very lucky because Dr. Zuzanna is an excellent doctor. She spent an hour with us on our initial consultation and even preformed an ultrasound at only 8 weeks. She answered all of my questions about food and even told me about a Brazilian lotion she used to prevent stretch marks (Payot). She prescribed me prenatal vitamins and educated me on what to expect in the several weeks to come. We also talked about the fact that I would like to have a “natural birth”meaning that I don’t want an elective cesarean section.
C-section rates in certain cities in Brazil (including Sao Paulo) are very high. In some private hospitals they are as high as 90%. For several reasons there has become a culture within Brazilian society for woman to want to have c-sections. One reason is convenience, for both the doctor and the woman, other reasons include: doctors get paid more for less time when performing c-sections, doctors pressure patients to have c-section, and woman are afraid of pain associated with labor. Unfortunately, the culture of c-sections being safer and less painful is really a misnomer. There is a very good article on HuffPost online about this very subject http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/11/brazils-women-rebel-again_n_1767972.html.
Since my initial consultation which Dr. Zuzanna, I have had several labs drawn and two morphological ultrasounds as well as ultrasounds during every appointment. I definitely feel that our doctor is doing a thorough job in following my pregnancy. I do have to go to an outside lab to get my blood work done but this was not new to me because in the US I would go to an outside lab as well. I have read other blogs where people are annoyed they can’t get all their blood work done at the same office.
We have been to two different labs here in Sao Paulo; the first one we went to wa s Delboni Auriemo Medicina Diagnóstica which was very good but a+ Medicina Diagnóstica was just around the corner from our apartment so we decided to try them. A+ lab was less crowded but when it came to giving us my password to get my results online, we had to wait for a half our because they couldn’t figure out how to put a foreigner in their system. Needless to say we went back to Delboni.
So far being pregnant in Brazil does not seem that different from being pregnant in the US despite minor differences. As things come up I will be happy to explore even more about the child rearing experience in Brazil.