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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pregnancy Abroad

Back in my first post about pregnancy (Dawn + Jon = Baby Girl) I mentioned that there would be more posts about medical care and pregnancy abroad. If you are interested in that sort of information, this post is for you!  I will preface the entire post by saying that all of this information is specific to my experience, I don't presume to know anything about healthcare or pregnancy abroad that is outside of my personal experience. 

I am now over 7 months pregnant, and things seem to be progressing quite normally.  I wish it was a bit cooler outside, but aside from that, I really can't complain.  For those of you who are interested in hearing some of the differences in pregnancy care here in Argentina, or those that are in Argentina and need advice on prenatal care, here is my best attempt to capture the differences. 

I see Dr. Juan Procaccini who is located in Palermo and I think the world of him.  He speaks fluent English and is extremely patient with our questions/concerns/confusions.  If you would like his contact information, please email me, I am happy to recommend. 

  • I have never waited more than a day for an appointment, including my first "new patient" appointment in which he saw me 2 hours after I called.  
  • He gave me his cell number the first time I saw him and I am able to call at any time with questions.
  • He is the only doctor in the practice, so I know who will be delivering our baby.  
  • All lab work is done in other locations, so each time I have blood drawn or need an additional test I need to go elsewhere.
  • The nurses/other professionals that he works with do not speak English.
  • He is the only doctor in the practice, so if he has an emergency to tend to or is running late, the whole office/all appointments are dependent on his schedule.  
  • All office visits are paid in cash.  It's a little strange.
Prenatal Care
The prenatal care the I have received is similar to that of many other pregnant mothers that I know, surprisingly, I know quite a few pregnant ladies here.  It is, however, different than that of friends of mine in the US.

  • More frequent appointments.  I started with appointments every 2 weeks in my first trimester, graduated to every 4 weeks in my second & went to every 3 weeks starting my third.  At 35 weeks I'll go on a weekly basis until delivery.  
  • More frequent ultrasounds. I have have an ultrasound at every appointment, and by the end of my pregnancy I will have had four 3D ultrasounds.  
  • Cost.  We are considered "out of network" for all of our medical care so we pay everything in full and then submit it for reimbursement.  Considering that we pay in full, before insurance, the cost of medical care is incredibly low compared to what we are accustomed to in the US.
  • There is a huge emphasis on low weight gain during pregnancy.  The recommendation is to gain 15 - 20 pounds total versus 25 - 35 pounds recommended in the US. As if I wasn't already feeling fat, I get to go to a zillion appointments that tell me how much weight I've gained.
  • Confusion. There are so many recommendations in the US that are not necessarily followed here that I find myself a bit confused at times.  Food and drinks to stay away from, exercise requirements, travel limitations and other recommendations are completely different.  This is why it is extremely important to have a doctor you trust, they can help you sort out all of this conflicting information. 
  • The childbirth classes with our midwife are in Spanish.  We are doing pretty well with them, but it still makes life a little more difficult.  
I have visited our hospital (Sanitario de la Trinidad) and am very pleased with the facility and the level of care available. If you are delivering in Buenos Aires, contact your hospital about taking a tour, there are not always organized tours available but I have found that they will show you around if you ask.  There are some differences, not necessarily pros/cons, that I thought would be fun to mention. 
  • Some of the hospital services include; delivered meals, daily paper and wi-fi (things that I would expect) ear piercing for girls, baby haircuts and baby cologne (things that surprised me).  
  • You need a reservation.  Considering I have no idea when baby girl is going to be joining us this might a bit difficult.  
  • There are strict visiting hours (for our hospital 8 - 12p & 4 - 8p) where only 1 person will be allowed in the room outside of those hours.  Bummer for close family/grandparents/etc that would like to help out in the other hours of the day.  
There is a whole other world of childcare that we will discover after the baby is born.  Things like car seats (not required here), grocery shopping (no child seats in the front of the carts), breastfeeding (totally acceptable in public, with or without cover) and all sorts of other adventures lie ahead.  I have found resources in BAExpats.org, BAIN and other bloggers in Argentina, but if you are in Buenos Aires and are interested in talking pregnancy shop - let me know!


  1. No carseats??? Yowza!

    A possible solution to grocery shopping is "babywearing" - just wear her in a carrier, wrap, or sling!

  2. That is a really good point Katy, I've got a few "wearing" options I'll have to play with.