It is the time of year again to enjoy Easter markets around Prague and hopefully some nice weather along with it. The Easter markets started on March 24th and run until April 15th throughout the city. Some of the bigger ones are traditionally at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, but you will run into them practically in every part of the city. Enjoy the brightly colored and hand-painted Easter eggs, wooden toys, embroidered cloth, beautifully crafted puppets and all typical Czech food. Here are some activities to consider. Enjoy!
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.
Expecting a baby is considered to be a wonderful, life changing experience that many women wait all their lives for. Getting pregnant in a foreign country is another experience and it can be pretty scary, especially when you are going through it for the first time. Not only do you not know what to expect in terms of your body changing [I won’t even go into the hormonal changes], but what can you expect from a healthcare standard and insurance perspective when you are not in your home country?
Because I have gone through it before in Prague, I can say that it’s definitely better than you’d expect and I have heard many expat women say they are grateful to have had a baby in Prague because of the overall pre-natal and post-birth care. Whatever your residence status may be, everyone in the Czech Republic is required to have healthcare insurance – whether you are an EU citizen, have insurance through your employer, husband, or whether you are covering it monthly on your own. The good news is, very little money will come from your pocket. Pre-natal check-ups and the birth are covered by your insurance. On top of that, the most of the necessary tests and screenings are also covered by your insurance.
The first thing you need to do when you determine that you are pregnant, is make an appointment with your gynecologist – they will invite you between week 6-8 for your first ultrasound to determine the status of the pregnancy. When all checks out, you are required to return around week 11, and if everything is good, you receive a “Těhotenský průkaz” – a pregnancy booklet that tracks the progress of your pregnancy, all of the test results, allergies, previous pregnancies / complications if any. Congrats, you are now officially pregnant ;)
Between week 11 and week 14, you have to give blood to determine your blood’s RH factor and other important information and get scheduled for your I. Screening to determine the possibilities of birth effects including Down syndrome and other potential developmental problems (Detailed ultrasound/blood test). This screening is most often done at Podolí or Motol hospitals, or private clinics that have quality ultrasound machines with specialists. The I. screening is not covered by your insurance anymore, which was the case a couple of years back when I had my baby. Good news is, it costs aprox. 1,000 Kc, so it’s not a major dent in your pocket.
Around week 14, sometimes a couple of weeks earlier depending on the institution, you HAVE to register with a hospital where you will deliver. The reason is that in recent years there was a baby boom and all the “porodnice” or birthing hospitals were busting at the seams and women would get turned away when they arrived, due to limited space. Sounds scary, but don’t worry, the baby boom has slowed down, and it does not happen often that you have to go give birth in a different hospital than expected. If you are over 35, they will consider you to get the genetic test around week 15 to ensure your baby is healthy – this does involves a sample of your amniotic fluid, potentially other genetic tests.
The II. Screening is due around your 20th week, which also involves a detailed ultrasound to ensure all of the organs of the baby are developing correctly – this is covered by your insurance and is done at a specialist office (usually same as the first screening). Around this time, you will also have to get the glucose screening / tolerance test to ensure you do not have gestational diabetes. At week 30, it’s time for your final screening, and this could be done at your doctor’s office, depending on quality of the ultrasound machine. Throughout the pregnancy you will several vaginal exams to determine the status of your cervix and one pap smear (usually at the beginning of the pregnancy) unless you have had one recently.
About a month before your due date, your gynecologist releases you to the hospital of choice, where you will have to go for weekly check-ups before the delivery. In most cases, women do not have a specific doctor that will be present at the birth, but will deliver with whomever is on shift that day/night. However, if you feel more comfortable to select a doctor that will deliver your baby, it can be done, but you will pay extra. The amount ranges from 10-20,000 Kc and you have to select the doctor before you register (if you are given a recommendation) or select from the doctors that are at your hospital of choice.
Hospitals in Prague:
Good luck with your pregnancy!
Now that being outside for longer periods of time is just not possible with kids, parents must look for other ways to entertain their little ones [and themselves]. Last weekend, my sister and I decided to take my 2 year old son to the recently opened and renovated National Technical Museum by Letná. The museum is divided into sections by various themes: Transportation (the most attractive to little ones and adults), Printing, Astronomy, Architecture and Photography. In all of these sections you will find technical artifacts relating to the theme at hand. I must say that I was truly impressed by most of it and if you are a collector or interested in antiques of technical/scientific background, it will surely blow your mind.
Now back to my 2 year old – he loves anything that has wheels: trains, cars, bikes, motorcycles, planes and so on. The biggest attraction for him was definitely the enormous steam locomotive, nicknamed Hrboun, and the dining wagon of a train that belonged Emperor Frantisek Josef I. In this exhibit you can see transportation evolve from the end of the 19th century until today and although I am a novice on this topic, I am confident enough to say that they have some gems as far as cars, motorcycles and planes go.
Another very interesting section of the museum is the Astronomy exhibit – From the History of Understanding Astronomy- which is considered as the most important collection of astronomical instruments in the Czech republic. The unique collection of instruments are displayed in an infinite space surrounded by stars. The exhibit has an introductory part that presents the major milestones in the history of astronomy over the past 6,000 years. In the second part of the exhibit, displays instruments that were used from the 15th to the 20th century, with a focus on the 16th adn 17th century when Prague, during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, was the hub of world’s leading astronomers of this age – Tycho Brahe and Johanes Kepler.
The printing exhibit has interactive pieces that are attractive to children, as well as adults, and the photography and architecture halls are definitely worth a visit as well.
The museum is located at Kostelní 42, Praha 7
Every first Thursday of the month: 9-20.00
Adults will pay 170 Kč and children from 6-15 are 90 Kč. Smaller children to 6 years of age are free of charge.