Pizza, Pasta, Gnocchi…
The dinosaur of a doctor was palpating my abdomen and repeating what sounded like an Italian menu.
Pizza… Pasta… Gnocchi…
But instead of a menu, he was teaching me where my uterus was.
That’s right, the soft mushy pizza dough was my sorry excuse for abs and the firmer gnocchi was my uterus.
What a welcome to the world of having a baby in Argentina.
I lay there, insulted and in silent rage. The kind of silent rage that makes you want to sob to let out the anger because you can’t do what you really want to do (tear the old doctor a new one, right in his gnocchi).
And to add insult to injury, I had to go see this doctor for my second check up as well, as I had yet to find a new obstetrician.
Ladies and gentlemen, I shit you not that he did it again.
And for a second time, I lay there in silent rage, rendered mute by the shock that I was actually doing this a second time.
Giving birth in a foreign country can be scary, and I’ve had two babies here in Argentina.
Luckily, I’ve also had two wildly different experiences.
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In this post:
Humanized Birth and Argentine Law
Ever since 2004, the right to be a protagonist in your birth has been codified into law with the right to a parto respetado.
Interested? Read about the law here.
Unfortunately, as progressive as that law is, practice doesn’t always reflect law or evidence based research.
And speaking of “evidence-based,” those are two words I became very obsessed with during my first pregnancy.
My First Experience Having a Baby in Argentina
I read the books. I followed multiple labor and delivery nurses on social media. I took their birth classes and I stayed active and healthy for the whole 9 months.
In other words, I considered myself an informed patient.
The downside of all of the information, in my case, was heightened anxiety. Would a modern hospital in Argentina respect what I wanted?
I jumped from doctor to doctor until I found one I felt I could trust.
She was very kind and always listened to me (which was a relief after pizza, pasta, gnocchi and a second doctor that instilled a bit more fear than comfort).
But despite feeling comfortable with my new doctor, the anxiety never did go away. I didn’t like or feel comfortable with the midwife my OB worked with.
NOTE: In Argentina, OB’s work with midwives and it is typically a set team. How they work together will depend on the doctor (I assume, I can only speak from my experience) but for ours the parteras (midwives) run the birth courses and help coach you through the actual labor.
I also did not like the atmosphere of being in a hospital when we did the tour. It felt very cold and medical (yes, I do realize that’s the point). But I didn’t feel sick and I didn’t feel like I belonged there.
Despite all my anxieties, I did not listen to my gut.
A first time pregnancy can be a scary thing. How WILL I react, how WILL my body handle it? When everyone constantly feeds you horror stories, you begin to listen to them over your own intuition.
In the end, my gut was right. I was able to handle the pain. I was able to do it, yet my doctor did not hold her end of the bargain.
Despite arriving at the hospital ready to push they still convinced me to get an epidural I did not want and despite only pushing 5 times, I was cut (episiotomies are the work of Satan himself and I will never get over the fact that another woman gave me one so quickly, without my consent or knowledge).
On appearance, it seems like an easy birth. A quick labor and minimal time in the hospital, yet I still came away with trauma and heightened anxiety.
Second Time Around: A Homebirth
So for my second pregnancy, I listened to my gut, opting for a team of midwives I loved and a homebirth.
It’s a decision we kept nearly completely to ourselves but one that we made with confidence.
The experience was incredible and there are no words for it. I was comfortable in my own home. And you can choose to believe me or not but I swear the pain was minimal, it was at least a fraction of my first birth (I’d chalk that up to me being at ease).
My first son was asleep in his crib the entire time (the timing was pure luck) making his transition to big brotherhood even easier, he woke up and here she was. Baby sister!
And recovery… nothing beats recovering in your own bed. My midwives came to the house regularly to check on me and baby. I felt heard, cared for, and safe.
Should you have your baby in Argentina?
Homebirths aren’t for everyone and I’m not writing about mine to push some sort of woo woo agenda.
I’m here to push you to defend what you want and listen to your gut, wherever you choose to have your baby, at home or in a hospital, in Argentina or elsewhere.
Because that’s ultimately what will make the difference.
Not where you have your baby, be it in the US or in Argentina.
But back to the point, should you have your baby here in Argentina?
Nothing has made me love living in Buenos Aires more than having my babies here. This is a child loving culture with a “it takes a village” parenting style I’ve grown to love.
Here are just a few pros to consider:
- HEALTH CARE IS CHEAP… | I pay the equivalent of around $100 US for my private healthcare plan. My hospital birth was covered 100%. I paid for my homebirth midwife out of pocket but it’s very affordable. My baby’s care is 100% free for the first year of their life (pediatrician, medication, studies, all of it).
- … AND EXCELLENT | Hospitals and healthcare here is top of the line. You’ll feel comfortable and well cared for in Argentina’s private hospitals.
- IT TAKES A VILLAGE | People here are helpful, there’s a sense of community parenting and everyone is willing to lend a hand whether it’s getting you and your baby off the bus safely or strapping your toddler into their stroller while you also have a newborn in a carrier. People always help me.
- CHILDREN & MOTHERS ARE A PRIORITY | As a pregnant woman or someone with a baby you’re given priority in lines and in most situations. Is line cutting worth moving countries for? No. But it goes to show where this country aligns their priorities.
- AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE | Nannies and childcare are very affordable compared to the US. If you’re a digital nomad this is a great place to set up shop where you’ll have help with your kids. But of course, when it comes to private daycares and preschools, there are pricier monthly fees to consider and the long waitlists you see in big cities like New York.
My Experience: A Summary
In the end, this is only my experience. Every birth is an entirely different world, all in its own.
I’m thrilled with how my journey to motherhood ended. My homebirth and midwives were the closure I needed from my first birth.
The anxiety I felt leading up to and after having my son have completely disappeared since having my daughter.
I got what I needed. And what I needed honestly wasn’t the picture perfect home birth, it was being listened to and feeling cared for, not being another of many patients in a busy OB’s schedule.
If you’re considering starting your family in Argentina and have any questions at all, feel free to reach out. I’m no expert and I don’t have a rolodex of doctors to recommend to you, but I can help try to put your mind at ease.