The Italian way

maternita_320x250_255.jpgI’ve had two babies. One born in London, and my second born in Milan. I found the whole experience of childbirth to be much different here in Italy compared to northern Europe (and probably the U.S).

For starters, women in Italy get to stay in hospital much longer after the birth. Even with a straight-forward, uncomplicated delivery, the minimum hospital stay is 3 days. During those three days mummy is checked daily by doctors, midwives and nurses. Baby sees a paediatrician everyday. And then once you leave the hospital everybody forgets about you; post-natal care at home is non existent here!
Also in Italy, epidurals are very difficult to get. Only very big maternity hospitals have an anaesthesiologist in the delivery ward at all times. To get an epidural in the majority of hospitals, you need to give birth during office hours, Mon-Fri 9-5! For that reason, if you can afford it, the best thing is to “reserve” your own anaesthesiologist who will be on call for you 24/7. However, the problem still remains if the maternity hospital of your choice is full when labour starts and cannot admit new patients. Then, depending on how far you are, you may be sent to another hospital completely unfamiliar to you and where you have not booked the epidural! If you are unlucky you could end up in one of the hospitals run buy a Catholic order, and there you can forget about pain relief entirely. (Remember: in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children)! nido.jpg
Also, each hospital has its own rules on when the baby can stay with you; you may be allowed to keep your baby with you the whole time, but you may be asked/forced to give him to the nursery at night or even when visits are allowed.
Oh… and if you are having a c-section, forget about having the father with you. Daddies are never allowed in the theatre, and that’s such a pity!



Comments (13)

March 17, 2008

I can’t imagine not having my husband with me in the room while I was giving birth! How bizarre… that’s so old-fashioned.
My grandma told me that when she had her 4 babies, it was this way as well. My grandpa dropped her off at the hospital and only came back to pick her (and the baby) up!
Can you imagine?

March 17, 2008

Of course my grandmother gave birth at home, she was Dutch after all, but my grandpa had to wait in the hallway!
My mum gave birth at home as well (also Dutch), but my dad could stay with her! These were the seventies.
I wonder – if you say your husband HAS TO BE with you in the theater – won’t they let him?

March 17, 2008

For regular birth the father (or another birth partner) can stay with you. It’s just c-sections, it’s for hygiene reasons I believe.
I know how it is in the UK, but is it the same all over Europe? France? Spain?
I’m curious to find out!

March 17, 2008

In the Netherlands the partner can come into the theater (operation room). But he can only come in after everything has been prepared!
I just read that because of hygienic reasons, the father cannot cut the umbellical cord. I don’t know if this is common?

March 17, 2008

In the United States I think it depends on the hospital rules but my sister had to have a c-section and the doctors cut the umbilical cord (she was having twins so I am not sure if it had something to do with the fact that the doctors could do it quicker and then get the next baby out). Then my friend had a boy via c-section but her husband was able to cut the cord. They do allow fathers in the operation room but again only after the mother is prepped and ready to begin the c-section. I love hearing all the differences in different countries.

March 17, 2008

I’m appalled at the “reserving an anaesthesiologist” part! I’d be terrified! Or I’d show up during office hours if it was close to my due date and not leave until I had the baby. Talk about added stress!

March 17, 2008

My grandmother just told me that while my uncle was being born in 1943, my grandfather was most welcome in her room at home as the doctor was getting bored and wanted to have a chat about which car he should buy. Apparently they sat at the foot of her bed with a good bottle of wine and chatted about cars. She said that she almost threw the bedside lamp at his head….

March 17, 2008

So which car did he recommend? 🙂

March 18, 2008

What century are we living in?? Imagine giving birth in a catholic order hospital I would be sent to hell for sure :o)

March 29, 2008

Rome is very different from Milan, I think! I’m due in October and both my doctor and other Moms who’ve given birth at our nearby clinic assure me that my husband will be there if I need another c-section and I can room-in with my baby, no problem! It’s strange how different things are from region to region. Or maybe it’s because mine is a prviate clinic?

June 19, 2008

Hi my name is Cristina and I will be moving to Milan this upcoming Septmeber. I am not pregnant 🙁 ….actually I’ve had 2 losses. One this past Septmber at 21 weeks and the other just a few weeks ago at 19 weeks.

I want to find a good english-speaking doctor (preferably high risk doctor) and a good hospital in Milan were I can go to because I want to get pregnant again soon.

Please if anyone has good information they can share with me e-mail me at

Many thanks!

October 3, 2008

I currently live in Milan and will give birth to my first child here in January (2009). Reading through your experiences and advise has been great! I am nervous about the Italian medical system, but hope that all goes smoothly! I enjoy reading this blog and the insights from around the globe!

October 7, 2008

Hello everybody,
I’m an italian girl and i live in ireland. I have to say that probably everybody trust home care more than anywhere else but i am having a baby in Ireland and the hospital booked me for my first scan at 5 months!!! no blood exams done, nothing!! i went straight back home to Italy to have all the checks done.
All my friend in Italy have got epidural + husbands allowed to stay in during labour. A friend of mine paid only for the epidural, everything else was completely free on the italina health system (here if you want to be looked after by the same doctor during all your pregnancy + delivery it cost around 8K). In Italy during pregancy you are always seen by a specialist doctor not by nurses and when the child is born you get assigned a free pediatrician where you can bring your child for free ALL THE TIME, so you are not abandoned at all.
Make sure you find out correctly about how the whole system works. I know it’s difficult being pregnant abroad. Take care

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