I’m happy to announce that as of June 4, 2017, I’m a mom! I gave birth to my baby boy at my local hospital in Gliwice, Poland. I chose the hospital based on location as it was the closest to my house, but I’d also heard good things. Frankly, I wasn’t disappointed with the stay. On the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised. My stay lasted 5 days due to the fact that I had to be induced. Interestingly, the standards varied depending on the floor you were on – the postpartum floor being the nicest. Here’s a list of the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth in a Polish hospital.
You don’t pay for the stay. I can’t stress the comfort of this enough. Regardless of whether you have a cesarean, give birth naturally, stay for two weeks, whatever, you don’t have to worry that your insurance won’t cover something and that you’ll have to pay for some of your treatments. It’s all paid for if you have Polish national healthcare, NFZ. That includes various methods of pain relief like an epidural or gas. You might have to bring some of your own things like a gown to wear during the birth, clothes for the baby, food because it’s not top notch cuisine, that kind of stuff, but I’d rather pay for those things than pay thousands of dollars for my care, which is what I’d have had to worry about if I’d given birth in America.
The service is fantastic. I was extremely pleased with the service provided by the nurses and midwives in the hospital. They were all quite friendly and willing to answer any and all questions I had. The doctors less so but we hardly ever saw them anyway so it didn’t matter much. The nurses were understanding of the fact that sometimes I needed something to be explained again or simplified and were usually even nicer after I explained my situation.
You can have your own midwife. I can’t recommend this service more. I asked around and found a wonderful midwife who was there only for me during my labor and who I don’t think I could have managed without. The midwife has to be someone who works at the hospital but it’s not a problem to find someone who comes recommended. She’s the one who delivers the baby as well and the doctor only intervenes when there’s an issue or some kind of tools needs to be used 🙂 Oh and of course this is an extra service so it’s paid, but it only costs about 680 zł – at least at my hospital. Worth every penny.
You have room options. Before giving birth I was in the hospital for 3 days for injections and monitoring. I couldn’t choose the room in this case and in the beginning I thought it was a disadvantage to be in a room with so many women – there were 6 of us. The first night was a disaster as I really value my alone time and privacy, especially if I’m feeling stressed. This situation definitely makes you feel vulnerable, so if you’re like that it could be torture for you. But by the end of it, I felt like we were a little community. We all knew each other’s stories and had the chance to commiserate or just have someone listen to our worries and complaints. Kinda makes you feel like you went back in time to camp or when people used to talk to strangers more often. After giving birth, I chose to have my own private room, which of course I paid for – but the cost was like 430 zl and I stayed there for two nights – a bargain for the comfort. It was a time when I wanted my privacy and I think it was well worth the money.
Some doctors and nurses speak English. I didn’t use English but it’s good to know for those of you who might need it that the hospitals offer it in some capacity. One of my non-Polish-speaking friends in Gliwice gave birth there too and she was perfectly fine.
Maternity leave actually exists. Hello America! You should be ashamed. What the hell do women in America even do? The law says that your employer has to give you two weeks unpaid maternity leave, of course some companies give more and actually pay, but it’s not the law. In Poland, if you have a full-time contract, you can stay home with your baby and receive 100% of your salary for 6 months and 60% of your salary for another 6 months = 80% of your salary overall salary for one year. What a beautiful thing! I’m self-employed, so it’s an average of my social security payments, but anyway it’s still something and I’m grateful that I can stay home with my baby for longer than 2 fucking weeks.
The standards aren’t extremely high. That depends on your expectations of course, but it also depends on where you are, even in the same hospital. In the hospital I was in, it depended on which floor you were on. I’ve stayed on three floors of that hospital and each one is different. Essentially most things need a bit of an update. It’s clean because they clean every day, which is the most important, but some things are just old like the beds or the floors or the bathrooms need renovating, that kind of thing. So it could look nicer but generally the conditions were quite acceptable.
The food is a bit eh. Ok, granted, they give you three meals a day so it’s not the worst, and you can always just bring your own food, which is basically what I did. But the food they give you isn’t the healthiest. Breakfast and supper were mostly bread with margarine and jam or a hot dog or some crappy deli meat or something. Dinners were pretty standard Polish dishes like meat with cabbage and potatoes, pierogi, some kind of goulash, and always some kind of nondescript soup. Delish? Nah, but edible. Interestingly, the food was better on the postpartum floor – or maybe I was just super hungry in the days after the birth? Probably.
You might hear other women giving birth. I don’t know if this is the case in every hospital – probably not as I suppose the standards are different everywhere – but in my hospital you have to imagine that the birthing area looks like a stable – for horses, yes. You have walls between the rooms but one side of the room is open, closed off by curtains, so that the nurses and doctors can walk freely from woman to woman. I was lucky enough to be giving birth on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning when there were no other women. That means I got all the attention of the nurses and doctors and wasn’t forced to hear other women in the throws of labor. And luckily no one had to endure my shrieks either.
All in all, my experience, like all my medical experiences in Poland so far, was a good one. I have to say that I’m very happy to have given birth in Poland as opposed to America considering the level of care we received. If anyone has any questions or comments concerning giving birth in Poland, please feel free to share them in the comments below.