March 22, 2015

International Birth Stories – Northern Ireland

Welcome to the International Birth Stories series!  If you haven’t already, check out last week’s testimony from Brazil.  This week, I’m featuring Tiffany, who gave birth in a public hospital in Northern Ireland.
 International Birth Stories
Intro – What brought you to Northern Ireland?
We were living and teaching in Central Illinois and decided that we wanted an adventure, a break from the track we were on, and for our children to experience the world (at that time we only had two).  So we quit our jobs and found this amazing opportunity volunteering at a peace and reconciliation center in Northern Ireland where we could live and work on the northern coast – on a cliff overlooking the sea.  We were mentors to the international volunteer team for two years – it was challenging and amazing.
International Birth Story
1.) What surprised you about prenatal care in Northern Ireland? 
They never weighed me!  It was so amazing and wonderful and lovely.  They totally trusted me to tell them if I felt bloated or miserable.  I have absolutely no idea in the world how much weight I gained during that pregnancy, and for some reason I felt better and more healthy than I did with any of my other pregnancies. 
Also – my urine samples.  At the beginning they gave me a bunch of urine cups and told me to bring one in every time.  Nothing says “I’m pregnant!”  like a sample of your pee sitting next to your lipstick in your purse.  And the biggest thing was that I was in charge of my own “file”.  Every pregnant woman is issued a giant green binder at her first neonatal appointment.  This folder is way too big to fit in a purse, and I felt like I was  carrying around a giant sign that says “Baby on board!”  At first I was completely intimidated by it, but when I was bored I’d read over the details of my pregnancy, and eventually my labor – it was so interesting.  Unfortunately they took it from me at my first post-natal appointment.  It was a very sad parting – like losing an extra limb you had grown accustomed to caring for. 
2.) What surprised you about giving birth in Northern Ireland? 
They really prefer for the mother to avoid an epidural unless absolutely necessary.  They seem to have a more holistic approach to birthing, and the midwives do all of the work while the doctors stand by in case of emergency.  (I realize that there are many practices that are going this way in the United States as well.) After the fact, I was put in a room and all but forgotten about after my son was born.  It was glorious.  No one was asking me if I had fed him exactly 15 minutes every two hours.  They trusted my instinct and checked on us every once in awhile to make sure we were well. They also let me go home the same day he was born. (He as born at 5:00 in the a.m. and we left the hospital at 6:00 pm.) I didn’t pay a dime for his birth.  Of course taxes are higher there, but everyone is given the same care because none of it is based on insurance or money.  I realize that this may have its disadvantages, but in my case – a healthy pregnancy and birth – it was ideal.
3.)What surprised you about postnatal care in Northern Ireland? 
EVERYTHING!  This is absolutely the most amazing thing about healthcare in the UK…The midwifes come to you.  Every day for the first few days, and then every other day for two weeks the midwife comes to your house to check on you and the baby.  She brings a little scale and checks the state of things in your life.  I have no doubt that this helps with postpartum depression as well.  The midwifes are there to check on not only the baby, but also the mother and the general state of things.  This is also true for all well-baby visits.  The nurses always come to you and bring all of their supplies.  You don’t have to lug your three wild and unruly children to the doctor’s office and wait with all of the sick people for 45 minutes.
4.) Overall impression of the  pregnancy and birth culture in Northern Ireland.
My general impression is that it is easier to have a baby in Northern Ireland than the US.  Honestly though, I might also feel this way because I’d already given birth before, so was more chill about everything.  Overall the country has a more holistic and laid-back approach to birthing.  In my experience, it is more about the mother and her body than I felt like it was here  in the US.
International Birth Stories -
You can read more from Tiffany at her blog How To Paint The Sky.

Come back next week to read about birth in Djibouti!




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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 Emily March 22, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    It seems like they give the mom more responsibility. No weighing, BYOU (bring your own urine…ha) and the binder of info! Very interesting.

    And nurses come to momma & baby for well-baby visits?!? That sounds glorious.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 22, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      Emily you’re right, it does seem like they give mom more responsibility…maybe that’s a sign that they trust women! And yea, I would have LOVED in-home well-baby visits, especially with my first baby!

    Reply Jennifer S. March 23, 2015 at 7:52 am

    This sounds so much like what I experienced in Ontario, Canada – no weight measurement, a midwife whether I was at home or in the hospital, home visits, carrying my file around for the last month.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Yes, I’ve had several other Canadian friends say the same thing!

    Reply Chantel March 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

    What an interesting idea for a series, I love this! How neat that every country can have so many differences.
    Chantel recently posted…An Update from Last WeekMy Profile

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      I agree Chantel! I love reading about the differences.

    Reply Monica Geglio March 23, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I love love LOVE this blog series! I think I will say that every single time you post a new story. I loved reading a story about what it’s like to have a baby in Northern Ireland. It sounds much much better! I hated nurses and doctors bothering me every second after giving birth. I desperately wanted them to leave me alone! However, I do enjoy an extended stay at the hospital in order to have food delivered to me and just peace from house work, etc.

    Can’t wait until your next story!! <3

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Hahaha Monica I totally get that! It drove me crazy having nurses check on my every few hours…and it always seemed to be when I was sleeping. Some were great and came back later, but others went right ahead and woke us up. I just wanted to be like HELLO!!! I’ve been up for the past 48+ hours and my baby is finally sleeping…let me sleep too!

    Reply Sarah @ GlamGranolaGeek March 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    This story sounded very similar to having a baby with midwives here in Canada! Guess we don’t only get our spellings from the UK 🙂 I love that the midwives come to visit you after the birth instead of having to go to the office. I found it much easier to follow their instructions to take it easy, knowing that I didn’t have to get myself and baby ready to go somewhere. It’s the best.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      Sarah, I really am so jealous of that! What a wonderful concept…the US needs to get on board ASAP!

    Reply Brandyn March 23, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    That sounds like such a lovely experience. I feel there is so much we can learn from other cultures to improve the state of health care from pregnant women and new moms.

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 10:57 pm

      Oh we have soooo much room for improvement in this country. Without a doubt.

    Reply Cathy March 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Wow Congrats on the honor of being published, how awesome! Love this birth story! I really appreciate you sharing your latest creation at Making Memories Mondays!
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you Cathy! And thanks for hosting a fun new linkup!

    Reply Jessica Dimas March 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Ummmm WOW, Northern Ireland sounds AMAZING. I love how much trust they give the mothers (as they should!) and I LOVE how you weren’t weighed. Crazy! What a different experience compared to here in the states.

    Iulia – congrats on HuffPo, I knew it would happen sooner rather than later, you are truly talented and I am so lucky to have crossed paths with a writer like you! Bravo, sister!!
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    Reply Amy March 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

    I’m a homebirth CPM, and tho I do have mom weigh, this is exactly how I do things. I am from MO. We are in the dark ages in this country. :/

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Amy yes, it’s so unfortunate!

  • Reply Rebekah March 25, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Sounds like there’s less pressure and stress put on moms in Northern Ireland! I love the fact that they can actually keep their file with them. Here in the States, they’re all about patient rights, but you don’t actually have the file in your hand unless you ask for it.

    And after doing a rotation and volunteer work in two different maternity units, I know how many tedious “measurements” and “assessments” new mothers go through- it’s quite ridiculous, but that’s the way it works here, what can I say.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Yes, that is the way here….especially after the baby is born. I understand the reasoning behind it and I appreciate the medical advances we have at our disposal, but man, don’t wake up a sleeping mom and baby after an exhausting labor and delivery (as they did with me!)

    Reply Brenda March 25, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Sounds like a great place to give birth. I really like that the midwives come and check on you and your baby to see how you’re doing. That would definitely make things easier those first couple of weeks. I’m here from the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 27, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      I agree, it does sound like a great place to give birth…and I totally would have appreciated home visits from midwives!

    Reply Momo March 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for this story on Shine! It is very interesting reading about birth experiences in different countries. I live in Canada and yes, if you choose to have a midwife they come to your home after the baby is born. I wish there were midwives around 33 years ago when I was giving birth to my kids. Seeing the young moms now getting such great care is wonderful. The best thing here is that socialized medicine – no one pays extra for hospital stays etc. I don’t know how families do it in the US, with the cost of giving birth.

    Reply Jaclyn Kent March 27, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Wow, I absolutely love this series and this post especially! Thanks for starting this and sharing different perspectives. I think it will do well to help some US mamas make more informed decisions for themselves.

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      I agree Jaclyn, and that’s a very poignant point. Hopefully by sharing the good birth practices of other countries, women here can make some better birth choices (as much as our system will allow them). That said, not every story in this series is so positive, unfortunately.

        Reply Jaclyn Kent March 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

        I can imagine there will be some strict medical practices around the world, too, but some of these will help to open minds! I’m so happy to see this series!

    Reply Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom March 28, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Wow! This sounds like an amazing birth experience. I would have totally loved the file thing.

    I also love how holistic it sounds.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thanks for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby March 31, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Yes, the holistic aspect is very appealing. Not sure how I would have felt about the file…I read my file from my first pregnancy. Finding out that I gained 7 lbs in 2 weeks was FUN! Not. (I was intentionally not keeping track of weight gain, because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it…so it was a big surprise when I actually saw that).

    Reply Sharon Rowe March 29, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Being from the UK and this is typical of a birthing experience of all three of mine it makes me wonder what is different in America! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party! Hope to see you there next week 🙂

    • Reply Bestofbaby March 31, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      I wish this was “typical” here! Not that we have a horrible birthing system, but we certainly have a lot of room for improvement!

    • Reply Bestofbaby April 1, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      How wonderful that this is the norm in the UK!

    Reply Jules Ruud March 29, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    What an incredible blog series idea. It’ amazing to see the differences in other countries than from here. I had never wondered what it would be like but now I kind of want to have my next child in Ireland. Thank you for doing this and for giving other moms this avenue to share their stories. #MommyMeetUpMondays
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    Reply elizabeth March 29, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I love this! What a great place to have a baby! I’ll need to keep that in mind!
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  • Reply SHINE Blog Hop #41 - The Deliberate Mom April 2, 2015 at 8:01 am

    […] International Birth Stories: Northern Ireland  – Best of Baby […]

  • Reply Shine Blog Hop #41 - A Touch of Grace April 2, 2015 at 8:02 am

    […] International Birth Stories: Northern Ireland – Best of Baby […]

    Reply Latisha April 3, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Wow, this is a really cool blog series you have here. I enjoyed reading about this birth story in Northern Ireland. Almost made me want to have my next baby there. I like the holistic, laid-back approach. Not too sure, about not having an epidural though. Thanks for sharing with TGI Saturdays.
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    • Reply Bestofbaby April 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy it Latisha! And I’m sure epidurals are still available if really necessary 🙂

  • Reply TGI Saturdays # 11- Easter Week | April 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    […] enjoyed reading about a mother’s birthing experience in Northern Ireland, through the International Birth Stories Blog Series at […]

  • Reply International Birth Stories - England – Best of Baby April 6, 2015 at 12:48 am

    […] 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!     Erin gave […]

  • Reply International Birth Stories - Djibouti – Best of Baby April 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    […] If you’re just joining us, check out the previous weeks’ testimonies from Brazil and Northern Ireland.  Up this week we have Rachel, with a birth story from Djibouti (a country in Africa)   […]

  • Reply International Birth Stories - Japan – Best of Baby April 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    […] 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 Japan.     […]

    Reply Daffny April 22, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I absolutely love the idea that the midwives come to you for postpartum visits. I’m guessing that postpartum depression is down, and breastfeeding success is up. Happy as I am with my own birth experiences, I’m realizing my story is rare. I’d love to see the US take some notes from places like the UK.

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