Culture

What it’s like to be a pregnant woman in Poland

In Poland, pregnant women are kind of like super humans. They’re definitely more important than non-pregnant people and you’re treated very differently, which is really sweet honestly. Here are some funny things about being preggo in Poland.

You can skip the line. Of course this is only if someone gives you the permission, so it’s really only theory. I would never in my life ask to skip the line (unless I knew a doctor and the line to see them was 15-people deep. I don’t recommend doing this if you’re not an all-holy pregnant woman because you’ll be hanged when you come out 5 minutes later). So far I’ve only once had someone tell me I could go first once and that was at a place which draws blood and lines move really fast anyway. And I felt kinda guilty going in front of ladies who looked about 80 years old. They should probably go before me even. Granted, I have two months left and it’s been winter the whole time I’ve been pregnant, so maybe no one has really seen my belly yet.

Everyone tells you how awful it’s going to be. This is funny when you compare it to what Americans say, which is how great it’s going to be. People in the States will tell you that raising child is difficult but it’s well worth it and the best part of life. Here everyone tells me how much it hurts to give birth, how I’m not going to sleep for months (years even) and how they haven’t gone out with their partner in two years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s very difficult to have kids, but I’d like to know why these people decided to have more than one child if it’s the worst thing on Earth. Overall, hearing all the negative feedback about life with a baby makes me feel more stressed at a time when that’s the last thing I need.

No one wants you to do anything that requires effort. “You’re standing up? Why don’t you sit down.” “You took the stairs? What are you crazy?” “You can’t carry those two pieces of paper and a banana, you’re pregnant!”**I’m fine** please stop telling me to sit down, not carry things and not walk around. This starts when someone finds out you’re pregnant and your belly isn’t even visible yet.

You go to the doctor a lot. I think in the States and the UK you only go 3-4 times to the doctor and you only have ultrasounds like once or twice. Here I go every month. I don’t know if it’s just the standard or just a good way for the private doctor to earn money but anyway it seems like the care for pregnant women is on a high level.

Everyone expects you to go on sick leave (L4) asap. I guess this is what most women do who have full-time contracts, and if you can then, hell, why not? I still work normally and I’m 7 months pregnant, so people ask me about this a lot. People are always wondering when I’m leaving work and why I’m not already on L4. Look y’all, life is not that simple when you own your own company. I could go on sick leave, sure, but I won’t receive anything close to my normal earnings and what’s the point at sitting at home when I feel fine? I’d probably go mad after about a week because I’m not really the kind of person to sit around doing nothing.

People are surprised that I’m not going back to the States to give birth. But this really only refers to Americans. Only they are surprised that I’m not going back to the States to give birth (but they also can’t understand why someone would move away from the States as well as they all think it’s the just the *best* country in the world) I’ll tell you what, if you can figure out the logistics of that and how it would make financial sense, then let me know, but I’d say in my case it’s pretty impossible. Let me fly back to America now, wait 2 months to give birth, leave my job, leave my husband who has to work here in Poland, and then maybe fly back after 3 months when it’s safe for the baby. Right that makes a lot of sense. Not only that, in Poland if you have public health insurance, then you can give birth in the hospital for free. FOR FREE (you can pay for your own midwife and private room but it’s not expensive). I don’t have American health insurance so I’m guessing it would cost upwards of $15,000-20,000, depending on how and where. Maybe the hospital standards are a little lower here, but overall the care seems great, which is what’s really important.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to comment. I can already predict a “the differences in how Americans and Poles raise children” kind of post in the future, so look out for that. I’m sorry for the general lack of posts in recent months but this 10 extra kg I’ve gained is making me more tired than usual!

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20 Comments

  • Reply Mrs. W. 19 March 2017 at 14:10

    Hey. I’m 7 months pregnant too (perhaps we ll meet at the hospital 😉 ) and I only once skipped a line when some lady told me to – also at the place which draws blood. Although at that place you wait in two lines and it does not go fast at all so it was very nice. I think wearing winter clothes (especially jackets) makes it pretty impossible to tell you’re pregnant, unless it’s already 7 months and you can’t even zip it 😉 You go to a doctor a lot – once a month or once a 3 weeks – that’s normal. Although if you use the public insurance you don’t get the ultrasound done every time (it’s only 3 times per pregnancy if everything is ok). People expect you to go on a sick leave because if you are only an employee, you get paid 100% of your normal salary when your pregnant (when you are just sick you get 80%), so it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of it. Anyway, enjoy your last two months of pregnancy and take care of yourself! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 March 2017 at 14:33

      Perhaps we will meet each other if you’re giving birth in Gliwice as well 🙂 Oh I totally understand why people go on sick leave while pregnant. I’d do the same if I had the same benefits! Thank you for the well wishes. I hope you’re also feeling well and enjoying your pregnancy more than suffering through it!

  • Reply Piotr 19 March 2017 at 15:03

    Although I`m a man and not woman, I would like to give two coins to your latest post ;-). I think the differences between Americans an Poles are related to our attitude and characters. For the Westerners a pregnancy is a promise of great things which are about to come-a new life, a new family member for loving, first baby steps, first words and so on. Polish people are simply less optimistic and like to complaining a bit as you know. So, we prefer talking about sleepless months, stressful days, swinging a crying toddler, changing napkins… I could write about this an all long day. This doesn`t mean that Anglo-Saxons aren`t aware of coming issues obviously. They just look at the world from a completely different perspective I suppose. And I would agree with you about treating preggers in Poland. Mothers-to-be are found princesses or fragile creatures here. I reckon it may be sweet and charming but irritating at the same time as well. The blessed state (Is this the proper translation by the way?) isn`t any illness. If a young girl is fully healthy and a coming baby develops properly, why not to work normally instead taking a sick leave? If someone does this, you don`t have to do the same, do you? It isn`t compulsory at all! And not letting lift a sheet of paper nor banana? This sounds really ridiculous and absurd simultaneously :-). Going from one extreme to another never is good, is it? Don`t worry about lack of posts-sometimes less is better! You`re really doing a great job anyway. Owning a language school, running home, writing the blog-I highly doubt if I would be able to do it.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 March 2017 at 15:56

      Thank you Piotr 🙂 I appreciate that. I’m trying to hold everything together and honestly it’s not that hard. I’ve had a rather easy-going pregnancy so I can’t complain about that. But anyway, yeah you’re right it’s just the perspective. But I have to say that I don’t like it. I think now’s the time to be positive and relaxed, not stressed. It’s not so bad to be treated nicely but sometimes, as I exaggerated with the paper and banana, it’s silly that someone won’t let you do something quite simple because you’re pregnant!

  • Reply Lilianna 19 March 2017 at 15:41

    I don’t think people in Poland are all that pessimistic when it comes to giving birth and babies.. I had two babies myself and I can tell from my experience that it’s not that. I also “scare” first time mothers but it’s because it’s a way to bond. Nothing brings people together that shared pain and labor, and all the fuss only pregnant women can understand. Having children is the best that ever happened to me, and still I prefer to keep the joyous moments to myself (how I melt when the little one smiles her toothless grin), but I do talk about labor as the worst pain imaginable, and I did it twice nevertheless. It’s also something to be proud of! It’s not easy to be pregnant and give birth so women talk about it to show the others what they had to go through. You just have to remember that even if it hurts, and let’s be realistic, it probably will, you will forget about it soon enough and will be over the moon with being a mom. Fingers crossed and good luck! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 19 March 2017 at 15:52

      Hi Lilianna – You see, your comment was both positive and realistic about the situation. Everyone knows it’s hard and it hurts, I mean that’s obvious. But I prefer to focus on the positive aspects, not the negative. I think the way you present it gives a better perspective! But I agree, it’s nice to commiserate with other women, however, not to scare them or make them feel dread about their future lives.

  • Reply GoHa Samo H 19 March 2017 at 19:06

    I use public transport often (twice a day) and sometimes see women that .. I’m unsure if they are pregnant or not. I know how alien it sounds. From one side giving a place to woman which isn’t pregnant .. would be extremely rude for her IMO, in other hand not giving a place to pregnant woman is also extremally rude. If a pregnant woman ask for a place to sit, then I will just jump off my seat without hesitation (I’m not sure If I’ve used a proper conditional here :x). But it probably works similar in both ways, maybe its uncomfortable for women to ask?

  • Reply Magdalena Łaskawska 19 March 2017 at 22:11

    When I was pregnant my biggest concern was connected with giving birth. One woman asked me: have you ever broken you hand or leg? Oh so giving birth is MUCH MORE PAINFUL!! I was deathly afraid. Finally, I have found an amazing hospital in Katowice(it’s private but I didn’t have to pay for anything because they signed the contract with NFZ and I attended their childbirth classes,it helped me a lot)I gave birth to my daughter, naturally and without any pain meds- it was hard (she was big!) but I wouldn’t change anything.. 🙂
    Honestly, I didn’t notice special treatment during my pregnancy,I didn’t expect it but it would be nice 😀 . I stood in shop/bathroom/post office lines without anyone telling me to skip it. It is funny when people pretend that they don’t see you,just in case you want to skip the line. :D:D

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 March 2017 at 07:53

      Hey Magda – yeah I don’t know why people say things like that to pregnant women… it’s obvious that it’s painful, I don’t need someone to tell me exactly how much so! I’ve heard of that hospital but I preferred Gliwice as it’s closer and my doctor works there. But perhaps I should have shopped around a bit…

  • Reply pudpolska 19 March 2017 at 23:42

    Hello. Im also 7 months pregnant and an English woman planning to give birth in Poznan. I also had a bery serious operation in Poland last year which saved my life and Polish people and English people alike were totally perplexed about the fact that I havent returned to my own country. Ha! I think that they arr crazy for even asking – Ive been treated well here and overall I have no complaints!! The doctors here are the reason Im still breathing and diagnosed me within a few hours in A&E when in England it was ongoing for about 15 years and never taken seriously. I trust the hospitals with me and my baby… I hope Im correct. Im also working part time but people do get very concerned that i should be resting more. About people giving you a seat or letting you jump queues – in my experience older ladies have been the most helpful, fastest to give up their place… younger ladies are kind too but yoing and middle aged men…. not. Several times i habe stood next to them on the tram and they habe totally ignored me 🙁 Os chivalry in Poland dead? (my husband is Polish and does not behave in the same way…)

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 March 2017 at 07:58

      Hi there! That’s crazy that they diagnosed you in a few hours here and in the UK it went unnoticed for years. So it’s a testament to the good doctors here. I’m sure you’ll have the same experience while giving birth. I also have the impression that only other women are “aware” of your state and willing to help. But, look, they understand how it is and I think for men it’s hard to comprehend so they can’t have empathy in this situation. All the best with the last bit of your pregnancy and the birth!

  • Reply OLa 20 March 2017 at 11:24

    Yeah, I also had USG every month (even more often taking into account prenatal diagnosis ) so I think when you go privetly it’s normal. (I didin’t pay for visits because I have private health care from work – so my doctor didn’t earn more money for often visits :)).

    I agree with others that having small baby is difficult and generally it’s hard time (for me the most difficult are nights and early waking up – I Love sleeping so much) but I think having baby has changed me so much that now I’m better version of myslef because of these difficulties :).

    From my perspective being pregnant in Polnad – Everyone gave me different types of advice –
    Do you use oil to your skin !! No USE ONLY CREAM,
    You MUST have private midwife (I had and I think it’s great idea but I had her because I wanted not because someone told me) I have some friends who gave girth without their own midwife and were also satisfied so It wasn’t a MUST.
    You go to childbirth class? What for? They won’t teach you to give birth.
    And after giving birth – all these pieces of advice about breastfeeding (my father-in-law and Damian’s grandmother had something to tell me about that – so the most with-it people), about clothes, temperature outside and all this stuff !! I didn’t really ask about advice (especilly people who I saw e.g once a year !!!) . And even someone said something clever or interesting about raising baby I was so sick of it that I wasn’t willing to hear that! At the beginning it really pissed me of. I wasn’t confident at taking care of a little baby and these all good tips didn’t help me at all!! But Filip is alive so nothing wrong happend to him so I wasnt bad at it :))

    I wish you luck on May!!
    Only good memories from this time!

  • Reply usia 21 March 2017 at 19:01

    Hi! Also 7 months pregnant here. I was going to say working two jobs but I’ve been sent on couple days leave (l4:) two hours ago ;/ Anyway I’ve been hearing “why are you working ? you should be on leave!” -mostly from my coworkers (which are medical professionals so they know that the pregnancy is not a disease 😛 ) for months now. Being pregnant and in Poland has its perks- my husband strongly belives that I shouldn’t carry anything, vaccum or clean the bathroom (or do any serious chores really, maybe except from some cooking, which I like the most anyway ) and who am I to disagree? 🙂 Skipping the line thing doesn’t always work, although people sitting you down all the time or asking if you want to lie down are really kind of sweet. I’m also a doctor (hence two jobs-I used to have four-young polish doctors usually do) so It’s really nice for me what some of You wrote here- we operate on limited resources here but most of us really try to do our best 😉

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 21 March 2017 at 19:07

      Hello! I have one student who’s a doctor and has 5 jobs so I’ve heard about that. Also, my husband doesn’t let me clean the toilets anymore either, which I also don’t contest!

  • Reply Karolina 24 March 2017 at 18:28

    About L4 thing. Polish law is pretty strict about working in front of computer during pregnancy. It is max 4hours in front of computer screen and for next 4 hours they should give you something else to do and if they cannot find anything to do the L4 is the only option. Because otherwise if they let you work 8h in front of computer and any institution finds out in simple words they are screwed. So they find L4 much safer 🙂 (also this depends on company were you are working, but if it’s big you have 99% that they will ask you to go to L4. Also it is paid full 100% so there’s not much pain with money only with too much time.

  • Reply Dom 24 March 2017 at 23:13

    Oh darling… Haven’t your heard any hospital horror stories? Never enough doctors, you’re not cared for enough, the food for a new mother is so scarce it has become is a national joke… You can choose a hospital, but it can always turn you back saying they have no space for you. You may end up in a corridor. You may end up giving birth all alone because the midwife had no time to take care of you. Forget about the local anaesthetic – getting it is a miracle, unless you bribe the doctors in advance. I know one thing – although I’m Polish I’m never gonna give birth in a Polish hospital – unless it’s private. It’s sad really. Oooh and how could I forget – there was a law that a woman giving birth had a right to do it with dignity and get such things as a glass of water or be able to choose the position that suits her. It was changed recently. Apparently women do not need to give birth in dignity, not according to the politicians.

    • Reply flight control 28 March 2017 at 00:44

      Speaking about the anaesthesia – anesthesiologists’ services are very expensive and the childbirths are scarcely funded by the state

    • Reply OLa 29 March 2017 at 13:46

      I cant agree with you. I gave birth in Polish hopital and I was very satisfied. Mayvbe only food wasn;t delicious.
      I was lying alone eventhough I didn’t pay for it (nobody lied on corridor). I had really great care, I had the local anaesthetic even I didn’t plan it so It was quick decision in hospital during “the action”.
      I paid for my private midwife and it was greatb but also other women who were there with me were satisfied even so they didn’t pay for it.
      I was in hospital 5 days and all midwives were really helpful and nice. I had massage and lactation advice for free during this time. It was really nice although it wasn’t a must. I dont’t know about which hospital you write (I believe that in some are still bad conditions) but I wouldn’t be so strict.

  • Reply fran 28 March 2017 at 17:36

    I thin k yo are exaggerating. I knw lots of Poles woi have given birth recently, even in 79 and 83 and did not have that experience. Even in Nigeria, noon have that experience.

  • Reply Hermilion 4 April 2017 at 17:28

    Regarding hospitals – it does depend on region – but it is safe to put some effort and find good one, pay a little for additional care – just because some are not so good.

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