Baby Jesus has just been born, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I cannot imagine how giving birth to a baby must have been two thousand years ago. According to the Bible baby Jesus was born in a stable, so I assume that there must have not been a very hygienic situation. The Evangelist Lucas tells us that Saint Joseph and the Holy Mary were by themselves at birth. Saint Joseph, being a carpenter, probably had no medical training at all. I remember how useless I felt when our first baby was born.
Obviously, two thousand and twenty-two years after Jesus Christ’s birth, many things have changed and having a baby is a much more controlled situation. Let me share with you how is having a baby today in Spain. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor.
We are having a baby!
It was early 2001 when Ainhoa and I discovered that we were going to have a baby.
We were sooooo happy!
We called our doctor and explained our new situation. In that exact moment an incredible medical machinery started to work. Pregnancy protocols in the Spanish public health care work like a perfect Swiss watch.
First checkup was done the very next day.
After an official pregnancy test, blood and urine samples were taken to have all the info. I found out later that with the blood samples they also tested for thyroid and blood type (we are both O-) Blood pressure was taken as well. Before we left, our doctor handed us a list of food to be avoided by the mother. No unprocessed chesses, no Spanish ham, no raw meat, or fish. Of course, no alcohol nor any type of medication. Fruits and raw vegetables had to be washed with a diluted bleach liquid. If everything was ok, we didn´t need to have another control with the doctor until next month.
A week after our first visit to our doctor, a call from the nurse came, letting us know that the info coming from the blood and urine tests were OK. Today this info goes directly to your personalized E-health card, that you can reach from the Governments APP.
From this moment on, we had a checkup with the doctor once a month until “B” day. As everything went perfect, we didn´t need any extra doctor appointments. During the nine months we had three echographies done to check and see the baby. The first time we saw our daughter, I cried my eyes out.
On the checkup of the sixth month, we were assigned the place where we would do the pre-birth gymnastics. We had a free weekly class for almost three months.
Days before the “B” day, my mother-in-law went nuts. She prepared a little pink suitcase with the baby’s outfits, pajamas, cologne, etc.… She also sewed four maternity nightgowns full of lace trimming’s, ribbons, and many other things. When I saw them, I thought Ainhoa was going to hate them, but strangely enough she loved them. I guess the pre-birth hormones affected her, she hates all those extra embellished clothes. By the way, I had no idea that something like a maternity nightgown existed, but I realized later that if you are going to breastfeed, it helps.
THe “B” day is here
Then, the “B” day arrived. STRESSSSSS!!!!!
I had everything ready, the pink suitcase in the car, the tank full of gasoline (just in case). Although the drive from home to the hospital just takes five minutes, I planned the fastest route to get there. I was all prepared to be the perfect husband and dad.
It was three o´clock in the morning when Ainhoa calmly said:
“Honey, I am going to take a shower and I think we need to go to the hospital.” In that moment my heart stopped, I jumped out of bed and started to run uncontrolled around our small apartment, I couldn´t find my shoes.
Where are my shoes?
Thank God Ainhoa knew where the shoes were.
We got in the car, and I started driving. Then the most stupid traffic light decided to turn red.
I stopped the car under the red light shaking like a leave. Ainhoa looked at me and said:
“It is three AM, there is absolutely nobody in the streets, I am having a baby, I think you can go.”
We made it to the hospital in 3.5 minutes.
As soon as we entered, a nurse asked Ainhoa to have a seat on a wheelchair. We were taken to a small examination room, where a doctor and a midwife checked everything on Ainhoa and the baby. The midwife said, that although our daughter was placed correctly for delivery, and contractions had a very good rhythm, the dilatation was not completed, so it might take some hours.
We were taken to a small and quiet room where mother and baby were controlled constantly. About two hours later dilatation was almost done and Ainhoa was asked if she wanted to have a natural birth or with epidural anesthesia. I knew the answer to that one. “Give me drugs” 🤣
That was the first moment I was asked to leave my wife, just five minutes for them to administrate the epidural.
Less than thirty minutes later everything was set for our baby to be born. This was the second time I was asked to leave my wife, and it was to place Ainhoa in the delivery table. Assisting the birth, there was a doctor, a midwife a nurse and a useless crying husband.
Once the baby was born, she was placed on top of the mother (skin with skin) for bonding. To me as the father one of the most beautiful moments during birth. After a while, the baby was taken away from Ainhoa and a bunch of tests were done to the baby in less than five minutes. Those nurses worked fast!
One of the things that shocked me was that the babies are not cleaned anymore right after birth. I was told that this grease they are born with protects the baby.
Thank God, there was no smacking the baby on the butt. In our last check up before the “B” day I asked our doctor about it. She explained that that procedure has not been done for some years now, nonetheless, they would check how responsive the baby is.
Eye drops were put on the baby to control infections. The nose was gently sucked to remove any remaining amniotic fluid. If the baby is a girl there is yet one more thing to check, the nurses will check her hips.
Then, weight and length measurements were taking, and the birth certificate was completed. Well, not really, because the baby has no legal name yet. In the certificate only comes the names of the parents and the medical history of the baby.
While the nurse took all the measures from the baby, the midwife was taking care of Ainhoa. Blood pressure and oxygen were checked. Once the placenta was out, she checked its quality. As everything was perfect, the three of us were sent to our room. Unfortunately, in the Spanish public health care system, those rooms are shared rooms, not private ones.
Let´s go home
It is mandatory to stay three days at the hospital. In those three days, both the mother and the baby get more tests done. Something that I personally found very interesting was that a nurse came to teach the new parents the basics: how to change a diaper, how to clean the baby, how to dress and undress a baby… Breast feeding is recommended, but not mandatory, if the mother decides to breast feed, the nurse will also help with that.
In those three days, the father had to present all the legal papers of the baby at the local Court House. This is the moment when the baby becomes Spanish, and the legal name is set. As sometimes, the father changed the name to his kid, against the mothers will, now this technical procedure is done at the hospital and both parents must be present.
On day three we were sent home with a new baby and a bunch of mini diapers given by the hospital staff.
After the baby is born, the first visit to the doctor is not at the practicians place, in fact, the nurse comes to your home to check on the baby. Well to check on the baby but at the same time she checks the house. She checked the hygiene, the temperature, etc.… To tell you the truth I was a bit offended, what was she expecting to find? Saint Josephs ´stable? A mule and an ox in the living room? As you can imagine this visit to the house is part of the newborn protocols, and not all the kids are born in the same conditions.
Well, my friend, I hope you have had a glance at the Spanish birth protocols.
I also hope you have a MERRY CHRISTMAS. All my love from my family to yours.
Love the way your creative mind works to come up with this topic on a Birth day! The Spanish maternal healthcare system seems so supportive. Thanks for writing about it. Francisco, do you know where your shoes are now? Merry Christmas to you and your family. Love from Michelle and Dan
Maternal care really works amazing. People are super profesional and super human, they always try to make this the best experience.
Regarding my shoes, it just took some training for me to have that little detail taken care. For the other two deliveries, I placed them right in by our bed.😂