Pregnancy (Part 2)

You know it has been a long time since you last blogged when you forget your password, get locked out of the system, and have to reset your password through email. But I have a really good excuse…I had a baby. And for all you new parents out there you know what I’m talking about, and for all you expecting parents out there you will know what I am talking about really soon.

Now that I have fully experienced having a baby in Sao Paulo, I guess it’s time I share my experience…

Before I get into the labor and delivery process I wanted to comment on one thing that happened during my prenatal care. The OB/GYN that we chose was very good during my entire pregnancy and one of the reasons I liked her so much was that she was very current with research. One of the newer things in pregnancy is that pregnant women and their spouses should get a pertussis vaccine while the women is pregnant even if they already had the vaccine as a child. I actually already knew this from being a nurse in America but my OB/GYN also suggested it. The only problem she said was that because it is not mandatory in Brazil, we would have to pay for it.

We decided to go to the public system just to see if we could get the vaccine for free. After 30 minutes of explaining our situation to the nurse and a doctor it was no go. Our doctor was right we had to pay. It cost about R$280.00 or $140.00 dollars at the diagnostic center, we looked around for cheaper but this seems to be the going rate. In the end, I was the only one who got the vaccine because I would be giving the antibodies through my breast milk and we couldn’t afford for my husband to get it. Until this new policy is made mandatory by the Brazilian government you will have to pay.

Now on to my labor and delivery…

Disclaimer: This is one persons experience, every delivery and hospital stay is different for everyone no matter what country you live in.

My contractions started on a Saturday night around midnight. We called the doctor and she said because the contractions were irregular and bearable, that we should stay home. Three hours later the intensity of pain with my contractions grew and we were very anxious so we went to hospital Sao Luiz around 3am.

They admitted me to the labor room which was a small room with a gurney and a bathroom attached. I spent the morning there laboring with increasing pain. By 11am the pain was unbearable but I had only dilated to about 4cm and my contractions continued to be irregular and short; so in order to progress my labor the doctor wanted to start me on oxytocin. Unfortunately oxytocin would also increase my labor pain and at this point I was in tears every time I had a contraction. So I decided to get an Epidural. Prior to the Epidural my water broke and I was transferred to the beautiful delivery room where I took a whirlpool bath as I waited for the anesthesiologist which really helped with the pain.

The anesthesiologist was wonderful and explained the whole procedure (in English). After the Epidural I was much more comfortable but still able to feel some of the contractions to know when to push. The oxytocin helped with the intensity of my contractions and over the next three hours I progressed to 9.5cm dilatation. The only problem was that the baby was not descending down the birth canal.

In order to assist the baby I did a lot of walking, squatting, and bouncing on a yoga ball but to no avail. I also started pushing which I continued for the next three hours and every time they checked me, the baby’s head had hardly moved. At this point the doctors explained to me that without any progress they were doubtful that the baby could be born naturally but they were still willing to try for a couple more hours. The good thing is that until this point the baby never showed any signs of distress. The doctors left me and my husband alone and after an emotional discussion I felt that it was best that I have a Cesarean section at this point to ensure the baby’s safety.

Exhausted and drained they wheeled me into the delivery room and prepped me for surgery. I was so exhausted and sleep deprived at this point that I could barely stay awake during surgery, but the moment they pulled the baby out a sense of relief fell over me and I was so happy to see him that I couldn’t help but cry:) The doctors said that because of the baby’s size (8.69lbs) and position I would have never been able to push him out but on the bright side because I was in Brazil I was getting the best c-section in the world.

Unfortunately because I had a c-section I had to stay in recovery while the baby was whisked away to the nursery. It wasn’t for another 4 hours that I was able to see him again which caused me a lot of anxiety and I got to the point where I was going to get out of bed to go to the nursery to get my baby. But finally they brought him.

I started breastfeeding right away but it was very difficult because he would cry and get very frustrated. My husband and I stayed up all night with the baby while he cried, until finally the nurse said that I was not producing enough colostrum and that I needed to supplement with formula. Even though I knew from being a nurse that this was not the right thing to do I agreed because I was so exhausted and emotional at this point. The next day I discovered that overnight the women in the nursery were not nurses but technical nurses who go by protocols like giving formula. When I talked to the real nurse the next morning she said that I did have enough colostrum but the problem was the baby was not latching correctly, she showed me how to teach him how to latch and said that I would need a lot of patience. That night again the baby did not sleep and left my husband and I exhausted.

A couple of days later I was discharged and the real adventure began.

I would not say that my hospital stay at Sao Luiz was bad but there were definitely some negatives as well as positives, so I wrote out a simple list of both:

Positives:

  • The doctors were amazing! This is not actually a hospital positive because I chose my own doctor. My doctor, her husband (also a gynecologist), and the anesthesiologist all stayed with me for most of my delivery. There was no nurse monitoring me, it was my doctor! This would never happen in America!
  • Medical equipment and medications. All comparable to American standards. Some of the medications have different names or we don’t use in America but are all the same class of drugs.
  • Postpartum room was lovely and had a couch for my husband to sleep.
  • Food was pretty good and there was a lot of it, they brought in so many trays that we started hording food in our mini fridge.
  • All the nurses were nice but the language barrier was an issue.
  • Unlimited visiting
  • Cable TV and a channel to view the nursery if your baby is there.

Negatives:

  • Not being able to nurse my baby right after birth even though I had a c-section was traumatic and then not seeing my baby for four hours after that.
  • I was left in the OR because my husband stayed to translate and he wasn’t allowed in the recovery room and it was freezing!
  • Not having a nurse at night to help you out if you have problems with nursing.
  • Being woken up all night long by the nurses for vitals and medications. (I think that is every hospital though)
  • The architecture of the rooms make it so the sounds of the cafeteria  downstairs are so loud it seems like it is right outside your room. So again hard to sleep.
  • The language barrier really made it hard to communicate with the nurses and they seemed uncomfortable with that.
  • The hospital pediatrician was the most useless person in the hospital.
  • I didn’t like that they performed every exam and test on my baby in the nursery, so I never got to see what they were doing to him.

That about sums it up. All in all it was an okay experience, my hope is that this information is helpful to someone else out there.

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12 thoughts on “Pregnancy (Part 2)

  1. Hello, I’m looking for an OB in Sao Paulo – could you send me the contact details of yours and any recommendations? Thanks!

  2. Hi I’m American married to a Brazilian I had a choice to have my baby there or here in the US and I chose the US. First off because I feel more comfortable obviously in America. I do discriminate against Brazil for a lot of things especially health care. My husband knows this and its in my blog. They push for c-sections in Brazil its like 90% I think the highest in the world. the still do episiotomies even though the practice is out of favor in the US. And they still use that silver nitrate in newborns eyes to stop infection they stopped using hat in the US a while ago. They just don’t have the technology we have. I know women have babies their everyday my sister in law had a c-section down in Southern Brazil but I just don’t trust it.

    I ended up having a c-section because my baby was breech and she did’t turn. My experience was awesome. I had a private room for 5 days. All the free top of the line formula I wanted if I wanted it they brought it for free. My insurance gave me an expensive Medula breast pump worth $300 for free. i was ecstatic save me the trouble of buying one. The lactation consultants came in every day I had videos and they spent all 5 days with me then told me there was a free weekly clinic for an hour to help with breastfeeding (i needed it). Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I ever did. Talk about perseverance and patience. I am still breastfeeding to this day at 19 mos and I’m still in the US scared to move even though I’m support to its hanging over my head like a dark cloud.. I don’t think I would have got the kind of service I received even with private insurance in Brazil unless I was ultra wealthy.

    Your brave and amazing to have such a positive attitude about it. Did you get scared about what they were doing. Did you trust them? Also I have to buy private insurance do you know what kind you have? Or is it through a job?

    Just a scared mom freaking out about moving to Brazil.

  3. Hey ALSP!

    I am absolutely in love with your blog. I have been living in São Paulo for about a year and a half and have related so much to your experience. You have made me laugh so much! Hopefully you will continue blogging soon 😉

    I wanted to ask you if you could please send me the information of your OB/GYN. She sounds great and I’ve been looking for a doctor who will be sympathetic to a “foreigner first time mom”, with all my silly questions in bad Portuguese ;).

    Thank you! And Congratulations!!

    • Unfortunately she is not taking any new patients but if she starts I will email you. I’m sure your questions are not as silly as mine or as bad in portuguese as mine!

  4. Hi! Just found your blog. I live in SP and I am pregnant! 🙂 Would love an OB who speaks English, would you please send me her contact details? Many thanks in advance!!

    • Unfortunately my doctor is not taking any new patients at this time but if she does start I will email you. Congrats on your pregnancy!

  5. Hi – I have just moved to Sao Paulo and I am 20 weeks pregnant 🙂
    Do you know of any prenatal classes for English speaking moms to be?
    Thanks!

    • Actually when I was pregnant I never even found prenatal classes in portuguese:( So if you do find one let me know! Or if you can’t find anything, I would be glad to answer any questions you may have. Not only did I go through child birth here in Sao Paulo but I am also a Nurse Practitioner back in the US.

    • Hi Holly – I am 28 weeks pregnant and always looking for new mums to be… Also there is a facebook group of people I can invite you to, with little ones in Sao Paulo… Send me your email, and I can invite you via facebook!

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