March 29, 2015

International Birth Stories – Djibouti

Welcome back to week three of the International Birth Stories series.  If you’re just joining us, check out the previous weeks’ testimonies from Brazil and Northern IrelandUp this week we have Rachel, with a birth story from Djibouti (a country in Africa)
International Birth Stories
Rachel Pieh Jones gave birth in a French military-run hospital Djibouti on September 11, 2005.
 International Birth Stories
Intro – What brought you to Djibouti?
My husband directs an international NGO (non-governmental organization) focused on education, small business development, and youth and sports. He taught at the University of Djibouti for years and just this year has transitioned into more management of various projects like the distribution of school supplies for kids in low income areas and an English club for local teachers, to improve their own English and teaching skills. I’m an ‘accompanying spouse’ I guess you could say. I taught English, founded a girls running club, did micro-enterprise, and write.  [And guys, she’s a brilliant writer!  You can read more of her story here.]
1.) What surprised you about prenatal care in Djibouti?

There were no instructions, class, no special tests, no discussion of emotional issues or questions. Just checking on the basics like weight and baby’s heartbeat. The biggest surprise came when I had to sign a release form that I understood the risks of giving birth in Djibouti, that there was almost zero neonatal care, almost zero chance of pain medications, that if anything went wrong it would be an absolute disaster, that I had been told to leave and chose to stay, and that I wouldn’t sue anyone.

2.) What surprised you about giving birth in Djibouti? 

There was one delivery room at my hospital. If there happened to be more than one woman ready to push at the same time, the others would be on the examining table or the floor. Thankfully, I was the only one in labor on September 11.

 3.)What surprised you about postnatal care in Djibouti? 

I loved the postnatal care in Djibouti, which was minimal. Only five visitors were allowed total, including my husband and two other children so the two days in the hospital were relaxing. A nurse brought food from the cafeteria, another nurse asked how I felt. That was it. My baby and I were alone to bond and sleep.

 4.) Overall impression of the  pregnancy and birth culture in Djibouti.

As a westerner, I know I had a different experience than many Djiboutian women giving birth. My husband was with me, I wasn’t pinched, insulted, or shouted at. I had a private delivery room. At the same time, I was isolated. Djiboutian relatives surround a laboring and post-partum mother and I was far from my family community. While the physical aspects of giving birth in Djibouti are challenging and higher risk than in the US, the social aspects are rich and filled with community.

 To read more about Rachel’s experience giving birth in Djibouti, check out her amazing New York Times article (yes folks, NY Times – I told you she’s a brilliant writer). Rachel blogs at Djibouti Jones. You can join her Facebook community or follow along on Twitter.

Stay tuned next week for another international birth story!


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Iulia is a former educator turned stay-at-home mama of a spunky toddler and a squishy infant. With a touch of sass and a good dose of self-deprecating humor, she has an ever-expanding repertoire of bloopers, insights, stories, and impassioned opinions to share. Iulia likes to think she has this parenting gig figured out, but her littles remind her daily just how far from the truth that is.

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  • Reply A few matters of business and Oak and Oats - Weeks End Linkup – Best of Baby March 30, 2015 at 12:30 am

    […] you missed it, week 3 of the International Birth Stories series is live with a testimony from Djibouti…where they pinch women if they make too much noise during birth!  I’m pretty sure I […]

  • Reply Giving Birth in Djibouti | Djibouti Jones March 30, 2015 at 2:37 am

    […] Quick link: International Birth Stories, Djibouti […]

    Reply Madaline March 30, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Wow. Me and the other expat mom’s here always complain about Italy being so far behind in American standards for birthing, but I think I’m a bit shocked you might have labored on the floor had there been more woman! That’s a bit scary for me.
    Madaline recently posted…The Adventure of A Creature Of HabitMy Profile

    • Reply Rachel Jones April 1, 2015 at 2:35 am

      It was a little scary but thankfully everything worked out incredibly well!

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm

      I agree! It’s a very unsettling thought coming from a country where we all get private rooms, much less our own beds!

    Reply Sharon Rowe March 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party 🙂

    Reply Ellen Mandeville March 30, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Wow! Giving birth overseas in New Zealand is like home sweet home compared birthing in Djibouti!

    • Reply Rachel Jones April 1, 2015 at 2:36 am

      I’ll say it was an adventure that worked out well and that I’m not sure I want to do again!
      Rachel Jones recently posted…Modern Nomads JournalMy Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 1, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Agreed! Although our system isn’t perfect, reading stories like this makes me so grateful for the advances we have here in the US!

    Reply Liz Millay March 31, 2015 at 10:10 am

    I am loving this series – so interesting to hear everyone’s stories!
    Liz Millay recently posted…The ULTIMATE Round-Up of Resources for Teaching Toddlers about GodMy Profile

    Reply Katie March 31, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I love this series – it’s so interesting to see how different the birthing process is around the world!
    Thanks for sharing on Tuesday Talk 🙂
    Katie recently posted…Tuesday Talk #13: Two Introductions!My Profile

    Reply Angela Parlin March 31, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Wow…this is so intriguing. I had 4 babies here in the States, and there were a few times when I had that thought…what would this be like somewhere else? Thanks for sharing this and joining up with us at #RaRaLinkup today!

    Reply Monica @ April 1, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Very interesting to see how other communities and cultures give birth around the world. I’m glad I gave birth in a hospital in Canada, but the more “natural”, less medicalized way other cultures do it intrigues me.
    Monica @ recently posted…My Birth Story – Part 1My Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      I’ll take the natural, less medicalized approach in a well-equipped medical facility 🙂 I gave birth with a midwife and a doula, but in a hospital. It was the best of both worlds!

    Reply Alyssa M April 1, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I love this series… I gave birth recently in Bulgaria and this feels like being part of a sisterhood. 🙂

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 1, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Alyssa, I bet you have some very interesting stories to share!

        Reply Alyssa M April 2, 2015 at 6:21 am

        I do… though I’m not sure how many of them are internet appropriate. 🙂

    Reply Karren Haller April 4, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing on Friday Features this week.
    Have Happy Easter!
    Karren Haller recently posted…Friday Feature Linky PartyMy Profile

  • Reply International Birth Stories - England – Best of Baby April 6, 2015 at 12:37 am

    […] If you’re just joining us, make sure to check out the previous weeks’ testimonies from Djibouti, Northern Ireland, and Brazil.  Up this week is Erin with a birth story from England!   […]

    Reply Stephanie April 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

    So interesting! It also makes me so very grateful for our neonatal care here in the States. We would have had some serious complications risking our lives if we had been in this situation with the complications we had.
    Stephanie recently posted…What Do You Want To Know?My Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 15, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      Oh my gosh YES! While we were fortunate and didn’t have any major complications, I am so incredibly grateful for the medical advancements we have access too in this country!

  • Reply International Birth Stories - Japan – Best of Baby April 18, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    […] just joining us, make sure to check out the previous weeks’ testimonies from England, Djibouti, Northern Ireland and Brazil.  This week, I am featuring Melissa, with a birth story from […]

    Reply Daffny April 22, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Wow. I read the NY Times article as well. This story is so amazing! I don’t think I could have been so brave. What a wonderful series!

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      Yes, it was an amazing article! And I’m pretty sure I would have flown home for 3 months…brave indeed.

  • Reply How To Stay Cool in Djibouti | Melibelle in Tokyo September 7, 2015 at 2:20 am

    […] also featured on Best of Baby, discussing her experiences as an American giving birth abroad in Djibouti. (I also contributed my Giving Birth in Japan […]

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