Interview with Kirsty
What is your name and how long have you lived in Madrid?
My name is Kirsty and I’ve lived in Madrid for almost 18months.
What nationality are you and your partner?
We are both British.
How many children do you have and when were they born?
We have three children – two boys aged six and three who were both born in London and a baby girl who is three months old.
You had a water birth with your latest baby – why? And how would you describe the experience?
My first child was born two months prematurely so the delivery room was full of medical staff and hi-tech equipment when I delivered. My son was whisked straight off to intensive care in the neo-natal unit - I didn’t even get to hold him. So when we were pregnant with our second child, my partner suggested a home birth – birth seemed so straight forward with a full term baby! That experience was very special so a home birth again for the third child seemed the obvious choice. Of course we hadn’t anticipated how unusual home birth is in Spain! Having heard a lot of scary stories about the level of medical intervention during birth here, we searched around and finally found an obstetrician and midwife team who were experienced and passionate about natural birth and particularly home birth. My labour finally started with my third baby late at night after a couple of false starts and five days after my due date. As our other two children were already in bed, we were able to leave them sleeping peacefully. We talked regularly to the midwife who arrived at about 2am. My partner was keeping me upright and walking around to help move the labour along but after almost six hours of contractions I’d only dilated 5cm and was becoming disheartened. The baby was ‘back to back’ with me so it was taking longer than I’d hoped. The midwife suggested I tried the birthing pool. She and my partner inflated it - only then realizing that they couldn’t get it through the door of the kitchen so there is stayed - and filled it up. As I stepped in to the pool, I felt my body relax immediately in the warm water and I dilated the remaining 5cm in minutes! I didn’t plan to deliver in water but I was so comfortable in there that I stayed put. The baby was big (over 4.15kg and with a 38cm head it transpired) so I was pushing for well over an hour. As my daughter entered the water, the midwife checked the neck in case the cord was wrapped around it – which it was - so she unhooked it then passed me my beautiful baby girl. We had our first skin to skin cuddle still in the warm water. Once we’d got out the pool, my partner cut the cord.
Water births are still very rare in Spain, would you recommend others to try the experience?
Definitely! My water birth experience was amazing. I escaped without tears or stitches – helped by the water no doubt. I found the water calming and relaxing but it also allowed me to move very freely which helped with the delivery of such a big baby.
How did you rate the information available to you about the choice of birth?
It’s pretty poor. Initially I didn’t receive any information about birth choices so I asked around. Once I found my obstetrician and midwife team, I felt much happier. At my first appointment my obstetrician asked me what my ideal birth would be so we could work towards it. He dropped off the home birth equipment over a week before I was due including the birthing pool, a birthing stool, TENS machine etc so there was plenty of kit for me to choose from when the time came.
Did you attend ante-natal classes?
I did in the UK when pregnant with my second child but not here in Spain. Previously I’d found classes really helpful in terms of understanding the stages of childbirth and what was happening to my body and also a fantastic way to meet other expectant mothers. I went to yoga-for-pregnancy here but my Spanish wasn’t good enough to get beyond basic small talk with the other expectant mums.
Was there a language barrier during the birth process?
No because my main midwife had worked and lived in London for many years so spoke perfect English. The second midwife who attended just for the delivery didn’t speak English but it wasn’t a problem.
How did you rate the ante and post natal care?
My ante-natal care was generally good but as an experienced mum, I probably needed less information than first timers. I have been shocked at the lack of general post-natal care here. There are lots of excellent pediatricians but very few people in the ‘middle ground’ when all you want is a bit of advice and a reassuring chat.
Where you live, what are the facilities and amenities for babies/children like?
I am lucky because living in Madrid, there are English-speaking playgroups which are a lifeline. I tend to find that places are child-friendly - people are very warm and welcoming towards children which is fabulous. But there is not much which is specifically child-orientated so long school holidays for example can be quite a trial.
What advice would you give to anyone having a baby in Madrid?
Ask around and talk to other parents!! Get recommendations so you find a doctor and midwife that you trust and will genuinely have your best interests at heart.
Would you do anything differently next time round?
I’m not doing it again – three children are quite enough!
What could you not live without in Madrid?
The welcoming and warm attitude to children, fabulous parks, the weather, playgroup and the other ex-pats who step in and help when you’re missing your family.
What could you live without?!
People smoking everywhere and the lack of customer service anywhere!