As promised, I wanted to give you my impressions and experience on having a baby in one of the biggest hospitals in Prague, Motol, which is a University teaching hospital. When you are faced with a choice of where to have your [first] baby, it can be a tough one – especially when there are many competing hospitals at your reach. Many opt in for Podoli or U Apolinare – both hospitals specializing only in labor & delivery. For me it was not a hard choice at all, I simply selected a hospital that was around the corner from my apartment. My thought process went something like this: 1/ Motol Labor & Delivery has a great reputation 2/ It is the shortest distance from where I live 3/ The Neonatology department is the best in the city (newborns in critical condition are all brought here) 4/ My Gynecologist said that the big 3 (all mentioned above) are all very comparable. I think that in the end, it’s all about who you encounter that may make a difference on your stay and experience.
I didn’t want to take any chances, so I did choose to pay a doctor to deliver my first baby. Although many women deliver without a specific doctor on the scene and do just fine, I just felt better knowing the person that delivered my baby. In the end, I am glad I did, due to some complications during labor. I started going to him a month before my due date on weekly check-ups and called him anytime I had questions. When it was actually time to go to the hospital, he told me to just go in and get monitored to see if I am really in labor, as many first time mothers jump the gun. It turns out I didn’t.
I came in, told the nurse the name of the doctor that was to deliver my baby and they were in touch with him from then on. In the meantime, I had a monitor around my belly along with pain from the strengthening contractions. A delivery nurse was assigned to me upon my arrival and was in contact with my doctor who came a few hours before we started pushing. Before I went to the delivery station, I was placed in a room where I was able to shower, lay down, bounce on a ball or whatever to alleviate the pain – to be honest nothing helped (the room was meant to be shared with others, I happened to be there alone that day).
At Motol you have shared quarters with other mothers to be. There are 5 delivery stations some partially closed a couple completely closed. There are also two separate/closed delivery rooms with one that has a bathtub. For critical cases, there is also an intensive care pre-birth room for the mother/child who are in danger as well as one operating room. During labor you can get an epidural at no extra cost at Motol and have one person in with you during labor for a 700,- Kc. Fee.
After baby arrives:
Shortly after I delivered my baby at 1 in the morning, they took him to get cleaned up, measured and weighed and brought him back to me in an incubator (placed him on my check for some time) – which the standard for all newborns at Motol. After an hour or so, they took my son to the “sestinedeli” post-partum ward and wheeled me off to get some sleep in a different section of the hospital, as it was in the middle of the night and they had no room until the morning. It actually worked for me, I was exhausted and needed sleep badly. In the morning they came to get me and I was anxious / nervous in a way to see my baby boy.
In sestinedeli, it is standard to stay for approximately 4 days post-partum if mother and baby are healthy. They monitor the weight of your baby on a daily basis and until it gains some of the weight back before you are able to breast-feed before they release you. I had to stay for 7 days due to some complication I had during labor as I was on anti-biotics and some mothers also had to stay longer as their baby developed jaundice. During your time here, the nurses teach you how to bathe your newborn, help you with breast feeding [which I found extremely helpful] and generally are at your disposal should you have questions or complications. What was brutal was the 7am morning doctor’s visits, meaning the nurses wake you up at 6.30am and ensure you have a clean room before the doctor comes. Despite the complications I had during labor, and the follow-up ultrasounds, I had a positive experience both in delivery and in the post-partum ward.
Release from hospital, what happens now?
When you are released you receive a “zdravotni a ockovaci prukaz” (health book) for your baby, where your pediatrician will track the progress of your baby (weight/height/health) along with a vaccination booklet. Beware that the day you are released it is standard practice for them to vaccinate your baby for tuberculosis – if you wish to delay this, you must tell them in advance. The hospital takes care of the paperwork for your baby’s birth certificate which you will receive by mail a couple of weeks later. Your baby is automatically covered by your health insurance upon birth, but you must notify the insurance company of his/her birth so that you can receive a card for the baby.
You have to select a pediatrician before the birth of your baby and notify them when your release date is. It is standard practice for them to come to your home for the first check-up which should be a day or two after you come home. After that you will go to your pediatrician’s office in the following intervals for regular check-ups: 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 3 yrs and then every 2 yrs until your child is 18. Obviously, if your child is sick, you go at any time.