Cultural Musings, For Foreigners

My experience giving birth in Poland

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.

The advantages:

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 disadvantages: 

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.

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27 Comments

  • Reply Aleksa 20 June 2017 at 15:36

    In the Czech Republic in a clinical hospital, every woman has her own closed labour room with private toilet with shower and full privacy. I can’t imagine giving birth in common room…
    That sounds terrible for me 😀
    lucky you, you were alone.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 June 2017 at 21:29

      Hey Aleksa! Wow really? Shit that’s pretty awesome… but I had a floor to myself so it wasn’t that bad 🙂 It’s not exactly a common room since you can’t see each other luckily… but I can’t imagine if I’d had to use those facilities with other women or wait to use the shower or bath or whatever. I was SO lucky.

    • Reply Iza 20 June 2017 at 23:15

      Happens also here, for example in Szpital Miejski Zabrze, standards are wow, every day u got menu to choose, stuff is great. At least 2yrs ago when i was giving birth. Highly reccomend for eventual next labour:)

    • Reply Marta 11 February 2019 at 09:53

      In Poland it depends on hospital. I gave birth in Poznań, in the University Hospital, and the postpartum room was for 3 people, with our own bathroom, and the room where you give birth was single, huge, newly renovated and with a bathroom. And the food was lovely as well 😉

  • Reply Robert Reppy 20 June 2017 at 16:01

    Congratulations! I’m sure motherhood will become you. I hope you will still have time to write an occasional blog!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 June 2017 at 21:25

      Hey Robert – thank you! I hope so too! I think I will since I managed to write this one and it’s only been two weeks 🙂

  • Reply Piotr 20 June 2017 at 17:04

    Congrats Leah on giving a birth! I`m glad that everything went your way despite your son had to be induced to come to an our world. Your baby is really cutie and really similar to you-literally your little clone! I hope he will like the Earth and it will be a fascinating place for him-regardless of circumstances! By the way-his date of birth is really special- the 28th anniversary of the first democratic election in Poland! A lot of patience for you and your husband to your only child! Hopefully Maks isn`t very tiring for you and doesn`t cry to much ;-). Good luck and all the best once again. Best regards from a faithful reader!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 June 2017 at 21:26

      Piotr – so far he doesn’t cry much! We’re really hoping it stays that way but we heard that babies start to show their characters even this early so hopefully he’s just a calm boy 🙂

    • Reply another piotr 23 June 2017 at 02:52

      It wasn’t democratic, the democratic opposition was able to take only 35% of the seats in Sejm

  • Reply GoHa Samo H 20 June 2017 at 17:35

    Congratulations! 🙂

  • Reply jędrek 20 June 2017 at 18:10

    > The standards aren’t extremely high.

    To be fair, the room might be dingy, your sheets might have been washed 1000 times, and the light may flicker, but the actual level of pre and post natal care is among the best in the world. The maternal mortality rates are among the lowest in the world.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 June 2017 at 21:27

      Exactly. That’s what’s important right? So whatever about the other stuff.

  • Reply Daniella 20 June 2017 at 22:20

    I am so happy for you Leah! Your Maks is gorgeous. My Maks is now 9 years old and I gave birth to him and his sister, Zosia (two years before) at a hospital here in Lomza. My experience was almost the same as your except I had an emergency c-section and stayed for a week. I paid a whole 300zl to have a private room for the whole week. No, the food was not good but I lived. The upside is that I had round the clock attentive care, help with breastfeeding and peace and quiet while recovering. And just like you I paid zero except for my private room stay. And I would not trade it for the bills some of my friends in the states have recieved after having their babies.

  • Reply Witek 22 June 2017 at 08:04

    Congrats Leah on your baby boy – Fun times ahead of you!

    About the “quality” it all depends on the hospital. We gave birth at a nicer and newer hospital in Nowy Sacz than we did back in San Jose, CA. And like you said, no bill at the end unlike back in the US where, after insurance covered $20k or so, we still had $1500 to pay.

    What I did like in the US was that I was allowed to stay with my wife 24/7, even sleep on the couch. Baby slept in the same room unlike here where they take all babies out at night to a single room. And having the room to ourselves was nice too.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 25 July 2017 at 15:24

      Yeah that’s the crazy thing in the States that your bill is like 20k+. All my friends said their bills were at least that much… it’s complete madness! That is really cool that you got to stay with your wife though. I see that’s a thing in other countries but not really in Poland unfortunately.

  • Reply Hermilion 22 June 2017 at 11:24

    Congratulations.

    “to be in a room with so many women – there were 6 of us.” It is a common knowledge that it is better to be in common room or at least with another woman in a room for safety purposes.

  • Reply Madzia Łaskawska 22 June 2017 at 17:50

    Leah,Max is so cute 😍😍 I hope you and your baby boy feel good.
    I want to ask you if there is anything like obligatory midwife appointments at home in US?did you find it helpful when you came back home with your baby?
    Hugs to both of you!:)

  • Reply Marina 23 June 2017 at 15:06

    Congratulations! That does sound like a good experience. I kinda want to move abroad before having kids. You’re totally right about how ridiculous the healthcare system is in the US, especially for women having babies!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 25 July 2017 at 15:26

      Hi Marina – you’d like to move abroad and then have kids? or perhaps move abroad and go back home for having kids? Either way, you’ll manage 🙂

  • Reply Deren 29 June 2017 at 18:00

    Poland is really great country to visit. Starting from their beautiful Sudety Mountains, through centre of the country (Warsaw, Poznan) up to the sea itself with such cities like Gdansk or Szczecin. Really great place to visit. Remember though about a proper clinics in case of accidents. I can recommend to you the american clinic which might help you.

  • Reply Kadewu 3 July 2017 at 20:45

    Congratulations!

  • Reply Ewerel 11 July 2017 at 23:09

    Hello Leah,
    Congratulations! Your son is cute. By the way I’m the mother of three sons 🙂 I gave birth to all my babies in Rybnik, close to Gliwice. The standards in this hospital are similar to those in your town. I want to say that it’s nice to hear Polish people don’t have to be ashamed. You write about many advantages of giving birth in Poland. Many people strongly believe that the service provided in hospitals in the US is pretty high. No doubt, but when we take into consideration the money you have to pay and the extremely short maternity leave Polish people can be proud of this system. Lucky you and lucky me! I wish you and your family all the best.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 14 July 2017 at 19:04

      Ewerel – my thoughts exactly! I’m so grateful for my care here!

  • Reply Liz 2 December 2017 at 01:58

    Synek wasz jest piękny! Congrats! <3

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 6 December 2017 at 09:54

      Dziękuję bardzo 🙂 🙂

  • Reply SK 8 August 2018 at 05:59

    Hello~ Me and my family considers giving birth baby in Poland. We are foreingers and no insurance woild cover my wifes delivery. So I would like to know the cost in detail. Please give us information. Thanks.

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 27 August 2018 at 14:28

      Hi there! Gosh unfortunately I have no idea what the cost is if you don’t have insurance. I’m guessing it’s not that much though compared to other countries like the UK or US. I’m not even sure how to check that information.

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