Having a baby at Motol Hospital in Prague

March 28th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Karolina | Logistics | Medical - (Comments Off)

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.

Read about what to expect when you are pregnant and choice of hospitals

Good luck!

What to Expect When You are Expecting [in Prague]

February 29th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Karolina | Logistics | Medical - (Comments Off)

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:

Motol – Prague 5 (My choice)
Podoli – Prague 4
U apolinare – Prague 2
Porodnice Bulovka – Prague 8
Thomayerova Nemocnice – Prague 4

Here is a link to the ranking of the hospitals mentioned above – Motol wins ;)  Read about having a baby in Motol Hospital in Prague

Good luck with your pregnancy!

Introducing a fairly new website - Hello Czech Republic - launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here you can get information on living in or visiting the Czech Republic straight from the source.   The website is available in 6 different languages and provides you with accurate and up to date information on a number of different topics.

Tick season is here!

June 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Klaraz in Klara | Medical - (Comments Off)

With summer here, it is hard to avoid the outdoors.  Whether it is hiking in the woods, camping, or just hanging out in the park you really need to protect yourself from ticks (klíštata, singular – klíště).  They are mostly found in wooded areas but also in moist pastures.  These nasty little creatures detect heat and carbon dioxide given off by mammals, then climb higher on such things as grass and other low plants and wait for their victim to walk by.

Like many other animals that feed on blood, ticks can be carriers of many diseases, most common Lyme disease.  Which makes it very important to check yourself regularly and wearing the right close when going anywhere ticks may be living.  For example, when hiking, wear closed boots with long pants.

You can also spray your clothes with a repellent for ticks or insects, which can be found in any pharmacy.  Anything that contains DEET will do the trick.  You should also check yourself while you are out, it does take a few hours for the tick to latch on.  Key place to check are behind the ears, along the hairline, thighs, armpits and under breasts.

A little less gross picture of a tick :)

In the case that you happen to find a tick already latched on, the most recommended way to remove it is with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull out very slowly.  Do not grip the tick by the body  and do not twist.  The risk of being infected is very low and if it is removed within the first 36 hours, there is usually zero chance of infection.

If you happen to get infected, Lyme disease is very treatable.  As a bacterial pathogen, it can be treated with antibiotics.  Some of the symptoms include:

-       A circular ring/rash around the bite which can appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after

-       Loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face, headaches and shooting pains, muscle stiffness, heart palpitations and dizziness

A few weeks ago I actually found a tick on my leg already latched on.  It was luckily a few hours after I went out to walk my dog.  I didn’t realize it was a tick until I started scratching it thinking it was a scab and then I saw that it was a gross little tick on my hand.  Yeah it was disgusting and I had a mini freak out.  I don’t think I was infected, I have been checking for the past few weeks for any symptoms and think I am in the safe zone now.  I am super careful now when I plan to go outdoors and check myself thoroughly each time.  I hope you will too!


Hospital Experience in Prague

April 11th, 2011 | Posted by Klaraz in Guiri Guest | Logistics | Medical | Us - (Comments Off)

Guiri Guest Melissa: My husband and I visited Prague in 2006, hoping that we would feel a sense of belonging here.  We explored the city, learned the transit system and begin to dream of the tiny, clean, Euro-flat that we hoped would soon be our home. Two children and three years later, we finally arrived in the city to stay.  And I’m learning that living overseas doesn’t quite look the same for a stay-at-home mom.  It’s not a lack of adventure, just a different type of adventure!

I love finding things to do with my family– Prague is overflowing with fun ways to spend the day– and I hope to share some of those discoveries with you.

Something every person considers when moving to Prague are the ‘what ifs.’
What if I get sick?
What if I have to go to the hospital?
What if I don’t know what’s going on?

I had the chance to tackle those unknowns last year, about three months after we moved here, when my six-month-old was admitted to Krč Hospital for ten days.
It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced as a parent, but I have nothing but thankfulness for the whole thing.

Yes, being in a foreign country made it harder.
Yes, the language barrier was huge.
Yes, there were times I was ready to pack it up and head back to the States.

But we really received excellent care, and the hospital staff consistently went out of their way to help us.

Here’s a shot of the children’s wing of Krč Hospital [not the slanting roof– that’s just bad picture-taking! :)









For our first few days, while my son was in the NICU, I was housed on the floor above him.  I shared a room with a different (quiet!) baby the first night, then a mom & daughter for a few nights.  Everyone was very pleasant.

Once he was released from intensive care, we shared this room for the last half of our stay.










It wasn’t fancy, but very comfortable & clean with lots of space to spread out and play.

We even had access to a large porch and could go outside for some fresh air.

If you haven’t already noticed, tea is a big thing over here– everyone drinks it, and it’s especially important to give to your children.
This was my own private tea pitcher and mug….







…and these were for the babies on our wing!







A few highlights I learned from our stay:

  • Language barriers can make things seem much scarier than they actually are. When our baby was admitted, they said that he would be in a ‘box’ for three days, and that I would be able to see him on occasion. Yikes! In reality, the ‘box’ was a private, state-of-the-art intensive care room, and the kind nurses let me come and go as I pleased.  It was the opposite of scary!
  • The word ‘ambulance’ refers not to the emergency vehicle, but to the urgent care/emergency room wing of the hospital. So if you call for an ‘ambulance,’ they’ll tell you to go to the hospital.  Confusing, but good to know.
  • Still being new to the city, I was constantly discussing our treatment with medical professionals & friends in the U.S.  Every time I shared news they reassured me we were getting the same (if not better) treatments here as we would be there.  Such great reassurance!

Both of us were treated well.  Meals were brought for me three times a day, and I had access to a small kitchen & refrigerator.
My husband and older son were able to visit several times, and we were even allowed to borrow toys from the older children’s ward for my son to play with while we caught up.

Our doctors were kind, and the nurses & staff really stand out as the most helpful in our experience.  They gave me elevator passes & keys so that I had easy access to the NICU, they brought extra blankets so that we could play on the floor, and they ooh’d and coo’d over my baby just enough to make me feel safe.

In the end, we have a healthy, happy boy at home, and we’re glad to have this Prague experience under our belts!