Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Giving Birth in the UK (vs. the US)

I figured now would be a good time to recap the differences in care between the UK and the US.
The following are a list of the major differences I've noticed between standard practice for giving birth in each of the 2 countries.
Obviously, I've never given birth in the US so I'm basing my knowledge on info from friends and the numerous blogs I read :)

1.  More laid back-  As I mentioned, at the end of my first visit with the midwife, I was left wondering if anyone was going to check to make sure I was really pregnant.  Well, at my 2nd visit, I asked the midwife.  She said there was no need to verify it, because I already had with a home pregnancy test.  Oh.  Ok then. Ross and I had a running joke about me not really being pregnant that lasted until the first ultrasound at 12 weeks.
2.  Midwife-led care-  Of course, in the US, you can choose this, but in the UK it's the standard starting place.  Unless something goes wrong and you become high risk, you don't see a doctor for the duration of your pregnancy.
3.  No physical exams-  I haven't had to do anything that requires me to take my pants off.  No pelvic exams.  Nothing.  I guess this is part #1, but they say there's no reason to go poking around unless something is wrong.
4.  Free-  This is a big one.  I've mentioned it before, but it's worth saying again.  Having a baby is free, free, free.  Sure- we have to buy all the associated gear, but the actual medical care won't cost us a penny- unless you count the £9 we've spent on ultrasound pictures.  Pregnant women in England are also entitled to free dental care until their child is 12 months old.
5.  No prenatal vitamins-  At my booking in visit with the midwife I asked about prenatal vitamins.  She replied that, as long as I eat a balanced diet, they don't recommend them.  She said that they usually only suggest them to the conservative Jewish and Muslim women who have nearly all their skin covered because they aren't getting the vitamin D they should from sun exposure.  They do recommend folic acid during the first trimester, but nothing other than that.
6.  Community support-  Every week I'm able to attend 2 different classes.  On Tuesday night (starting at 16 weeks, I think) I was eligible to attend that antenatal yoga class.  It takes place at the community centre where the midwife is based.  It costs £3 a session and has been really helpful (particularly for heartburn- who knew!?).  On Wednesday night (starting at 12 weeks) I could go to an aqua aerobics class, run by a midwife.  It's at the community recreation centre and costs £2 a week.  It's a great work out!  Post-birth the services continue on.  There are all sorts of mommy and me type classes that we can attend.  I'm really looking forward to making use of the resources that are available to families here!

Those are the biggest differences that I've come across so far, but I'll be sure to update if I find any more!
Which of those is the most surprising to you?


  1. I think the one you forgot to mention is how many home births there still are there. I think the English way is much better than here. The US way that runs you through doctors almost assures that there will be lots of medical procedures before you're done and I honestly believe it's worse for the baby. Nature has a reason for why it does things and unless there's a big issue, nature's way is usually the best way! I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the process.

  2. Wow, that sounds awesome. I think the most happily surprising is that midwife care is the default. That would never happen here!

  3. I don't know anyone who had their pregnancy confirmed by their doctor or midwife in the US. I also found I had way less tests (which, in my opinion, is not always a good thing) in the UK than I had in the US.