At the beginning of my pregnancy I had the option to use public or private services for prenatal care and childbirth. I was a little nervous about having a baby in Italy, and wanted to make sure that I had the same level of care that I would have had if I were in the United States. Because this was my first child, I didn’t have any birthing experience, other than being in the delivery room with my sister, to compare my Italian experience to. To ensure the best care possible, I therefore decided to do all of my prenatal care privately. Essentially, this meant that I was guaranteed to see the same OBGYN each time, and the cost of each visit was 100 Euro instead of free. I received a list of available doctors, and chose a female doctor who also spoke English, Dottoressa Tassis. Each visit with Dottoressa Tassis, which was scheduled about every 3-4 weeks, entailed analyzing blood tests, and getting an ecographia (ultrasound). The Buzzi hospital was well equipped and had access to advanced testing abilities like the nucal translucency test. These types of tests were a normal part of the prenatal care in Milan, which I found reassuring.
I found the whole prenatal care process to be very positive. My office visits were at the hospital, which allowed me to become accustomed to the hospital’s facilities and gave me a direct connection to the hospital registration and birthing classes. In addition to monthly visits with Dottoressa Tassis, Buzzi also offered prenatal classes for both the mother and father. Each week we attended classes as a couple offered by specialists at the hospital. These classes ranged from choosing a child birth method, to anesthesia, to feeding and giving the baby a bath. Independently, I also attended a class at Buzzi that was geared toward breathing, and the preparation for labor (preparto class). This was a great chance for me to meet new friends whom I kept and had play dates with until moving back to the United States. All of my prenatal care, and classes were held at Buzzi. From what I understand of the process in the United States, this is very unique. For me, it was a huge relief to become so familiar with the hospital; by the time I was in my ninth month, I was a veteran and knew my way around. My apprehensiveness about being a foreigner, and unaware of what lie ahead, were quelled by this sense of comfort.
Throughout my pregnancy Stella remained breech. In my ninth month, I had the option to try to have her turned externally. We tried this procedure but Stella wouldn’t budge–we had to schedule for a C-section. When that time came, Dottoressa Tassis performed the C-section with another surgeon. In no time, Stella was pulled out bottom first. After a brief moment with mom, she was taken to be bathed and weighed with her babbo.
I stayed at Buzzi for three more days after my C-section. As a new mother, I was a bit overwhelmed, but there are a few things that stick out in my mind that I am very appreciative of. I was most thankful for the two types of nursing staff: one set of nurses for the moms, and one for the babies. They each wore different colored uniforms so that I could differentiate if they were entering the room to care for me or for the baby. The quality of the care was fantastic, and very calming. The nursery was right down the hall from my room. Unlike many hospitals, this nursery was unique. It was a warm place where moms could hang out, breastfeed, and talk with other new moms. There was a huge changing station staffed by nurses 24 hours a day to give advice, help care for the baby, or change the baby for you. I spent a lot of time in the nursery trying to absorb the knowledge that was around me. Most importantly, after we left the hospital, the nursery had a 24-hour helpline that we could call for any reason. The advantage to this is that they had our file and remembered your child. Needless to say, we probably called daily for two weeks. Lastly, I can’t leave out the food at Buzzi. In Italian fashion, it was excellent!
Every caregiver I encountered throughout my pregnancy was fantastic! I recommend this experience to anyone. Now that we have returned to California, next time around I fear I may miss the personal touches of my Italian experience!