Tag Archives: home birth

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: COLOMBIA

having baby abroad columbia

Laura and her son

This week I talk to Laura who is English. She shares her experience of having a home birth in Colombia as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:


Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your son and where did you have him?

I am mum to gorgeous 3 month old baby boy. I am English and my partner is Colombian and we had our little boy in our apartment in Bogotá, in the middle of the night.


Why did you have your children abroad? What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

I work in the humanitarian sector and while working in Colombia I met my partner. When we decided we would love to have a baby together, there was no conscious decision about where to have the baby, we were in Colombia so I think we just assumed that is where we would have it. One of the perks of having a baby in Colombia is the very special treatment you get as a pregnant lady.

You are literally treated like a VIP, everyone does everything for you and you never have to queue for anything (which is great in a heavily bureaucratic country). Needless to say I became very lazy! Since having our little one I have found the attitude to breastfeeding very positive and there is no shame in breastfeeding in public and people are generally very accommodating.


As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

In general I felt fine about being abroad, I did miss my family and friends in the UK but then I always do.

The thing that affected my feelings the most was the health system I encountered here which I thoroughly disagree with and this resulted in me feeling very frustrated, sad and angry at points. I still struggle with the heavily privatised system, where quality and a say in your health comes at a very high price and is only available for a select few and I still become extremely vexed at how decisions are made on a purely money making basis and not in the interests of the patients (I could go on a length here).

Therefore in terms of my birth I felt absolutely distraught at the thought of going anywhere near a hospital.

After a lot of tears and despair we finally found one of the two doctors in Colombia who do “alternative births” with midwives (midwifery is not a recognised profession) and who place emphasis on partners having a say in there birthing process. As a result we had a very special experience that would not have happened in the UK with a midwife, a woman who is training to be a midwife and the doctor in our home. My partner cooked for everyone, the atmosphere was calm, we passed contractions in the garden, in the bath, walking in the living room and because this is not common in Colombia I think the relationships between all the people involved will be lifelong. We are not just a number of deliveries for the professionals involved, we are part of a very special group.


Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

I will try to be brief…… the biggy for me was that fathers are not allowed to be involved in the births. I find this incredible and we were given many different reasons why this is, including that Colombian men are weak! This ultimately led to our decision to have a home birth.

I then discovered that the most likely outcome during the birth here is a cesarean, we were actually told on more than one occasion that this is just easier and that the idea is to fill and then empty beds quickly! Many women are encouraged and choose to have cesareans. Women are given an epidural without question and there is very limited opportunity to have an active birth, all contractions must be done on your back.

One of my most shocking experiences was at an antenatal class where the teacher criticised arab countries methods of birth, making a racist and sexist comment about how terrible it must be to have women delivering your baby and even more so with their faces covered.

Now what is funny is had I been in the UK I would have without question had my baby in the hospital and I have to admit I think I would have considered an epidural but what angered me here is that I didn´t have a say, even an opportunity to be involved in my own delivery and I would have had to be on my own.


What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I would advise not only mothers and fathers from abroad but also those in Colombia or in similar health systems to look for a way to express their rights. You should have a say in your birth plan and your health.

Yes, you might not have a choice in the end, if there is an emergency, but this might not happen. Fathers at my antenatal group wanted to be part of the birth, my doctor admitted that where possible a natural and active birth is the healthy option and that a fathers presence is vitally important in building respect for women and reducing violence in the family, especially in a macho society.

What gives me hope is that the midwives in Colombia are petitioning the government to recognise their profession and the birth choices it brings with it. Birth and health practices in general should not be about what is easier and more cost effective but what is right for the person receiving the health services.



Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

Motherhood. Is it a Popularity Contest?

Most women, having just given birth, have the feeling that they have done something amazing. They have. Most women do feel like Mother Earth the moment they hold their baby. At the end of the day they have given life to another human being!

Super mumNow, how many women have been made to feel that they should be banished for having an elective c-section or an epidural or even worse, AN INDUCTION? Who’s been made to feel bad that they selected to deliver in a hospital rather than have a home birth? How many have been made to feel they should apologise because they haven’t breastfed because they needed medication to deal with the aftermath of childbirth or because they just didn’t want to? Hands up. Be honest. Is the first year of motherhood a popularity contest?

The pressure of the perfect birth

There is so much pressure out there to have the perfect birth. What is that exactly? Surely it’s different for everyone? I had one blogger make me feel like there was something wrong that I had a hospital birth … ummm … that’s what I wanted and I never asked for her opinion. I am happy she wants a home birth but I certainly wouldn’t tell her that I think it’s a risky choice which could be considered downright irresponsible in today’s day and age. So why did she feel she could pity me for my “substandard delivery?” I dread to think what she’d say about my induction which turned out to be the perfect choice for me. Every situation is different, everyone has a different pain threshold, a different agenda and guess what? That’s OK.

The pressure of breastfeeding.

Often I meet mothers who, when I say I breastfeed, automatically jump on the defensive saying that they couldn’t breastfeed for whatever reason. I never asked, I don’t care, feed your baby, love your baby, that’s all the matters. Yes, I breastfeed but that is my choice! It’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. If you have done your research then I will leave you to make the choice that works for you, your baby and your family. At the end of the day we are lucky to have alternatives. Ok, those who do breastfeed do look for support and celebration for reaching milestones – I know as well as anyone how much I NEED that encouragement and support but it doesn’t make me look down on someone who stopped before I have. EVER.

So, where is my medal?

I don’t do any of the things I do with BiP for any other reason than that is what I WANT to do with her. Yes, I breastfeed, yes I do Baby-Led Weaning (BLW), yes I part-time EC (Elimination Commuincation) her, yes I occassionally cloth diaper her, yes I occassionally, every minute of the day, love her. Do I get a medal? NO of course not! No medals for dealing with pain from childbirth, no medal for refusing an epidural when you can’t take the pain, no medal for dealing with chapped nipples or that first bite that you daren’t look down at for fear that your cherub has actually bitten your nipple clean off, no medal for struggling losing the weight, or for being tired … no no no! NONE of that!
So, what’s the deal? I’m all for putting the info out there and encouraging other mama’s but we all have to do what we CAN within our capabilities and sensibilities.

What do you think? Is childbirth and the first year of motherhood a popularity contest?