Pregnancy & Birth USA Vs UK: Antenatal


Some of you may be aware that Miss H was actually born in America and is technically an American citizen. We were living out there for Mr H's work, and it is there that I began blogging. I have been wanting to share my thoughts on my experience of having her out there compared to Little J's birth in the UK for a while now, and I have finally got around to getting these thoughts down.

Please note: this is my own personal experiences and feelings and I am not in any way pro or against either countries and their health services, I just want to share what I experienced for those who are interested.

I have had to separate these into a few posts otherwise it would have been far too long, so today I am focusing on:

Antenatal

USA


I found out I was pregnant with Miss H in April 2009 when we were living in New York. At the time we had only been living in America four months and I had no idea how their health care worked. I was advised I needed to find a OBGYN (Obstetric Gynaecologist), however most people do this by recommendation and nobody I knew out there was or had been pregnant. In the end I spoke to our nearest hospital, Mount Sinai, and was referred to one of their consultants. Fortunately we lucked out as our doctor was brilliant throughout the five months I was with him.

I was seen by the doctor from my first appointment. Due to being irregular I wasn't sure how far along I was, so I was scanned there and then. The doctor could see a sac but no heartbeat so he took bloods which I had to repeat a couple of days later. He then rang me himself to advise me whether my levels had increased and confirm I had a viable pregnancy, which I was so happy to hear I did!

I was seen every month by my doctor, up until the third trimester when I was seen weekly. I was also scanned at every appointment (and given images) until the third trimester and baby was monitored at every appointment. I also want to mention that if I ever had any concerns I had the doctors phone number and email address and he would respond to me the same day.


When I was six months pregnant we moved to California, again for Mr H's work. Once more I had to find an OBGYN, this time I looked online at what people had said about our nearest hospitals and decided to go for one a little further away but that was a dedicated OBGYN centre. Again my doctor was fantastic and did regular scans and checks.

At 30 weeks

We also attended an antenatal class at our hospital in California which was four sessions long and went through labour and what to expect. Also part of this was a hospital tour. Being completely unfamiliar with not only pregnancy and birth, but the country we lived in and what to expect, I found these extremely helpful.

At 40 weeks

I cannot rave about either of my doctors enough. I was always fully informed and made to feel very at ease and comfortable. My doctor in California actually came in on her day off to deliver H.


UK


In the UK I was a lot more familiar with what to expect; although there were some things I wasn't so sure about, but had friends I could ask for advice on at least. The first thing I knew to do was to go see my doctor, who confirmed the pregnancy and then referred me on to see a midwife. At the first midwife appointment they asked me when my last period was to predict my due date, however due to being irregular I knew the date I gave them would be inaccurate and a put me on a lot further than I was. This was confirmed at the first twelve week scan and I had to go back a few weeks later to have this repeated.

20 week scan
Following the twelve week scan I was then seen again at twenty weeks for an anomaly scan and from then until 34 weeks I think I was seen once or twice at the hospital to measure my bump and do routine blood tests.


As I had previously had a c-section (more about that to come!) I was slightly higher risk and so we saw the doctor twice to discuss our options. Due to the birth being in America they couldn't access my notes to see the reason for my c-section and so it was harder to discuss whether a VBAC was advisable. In the end it was decided they would let me go overdue by three days and if J hadn't arrived by then I would have an elective section. During this time I felt very unsure about what to decide and was glad to be guided by them, however I did feel pushed to go for the section, which surprised as from talking to others a VBAC is usually the preferred route.


During this pregnancy in the UK I was not seen or scanned as regular as I had been in America and the care was a lot less personal - I saw a different doctor and midwife at every appointment and if I had any problems I either rang and spoke to a midwife or had to go into the hospital to be checked. One thing I also felt was very strange is I had to keep hold of my notes and take them from appointment to appointment. In the USA everything is electronic and the doctor had access to my notes from his office and the hospital so this was quite outdated to me.


Overall I think the care I received in America was a lot more personal and I felt completely supported and at ease. Whilst I was in an unfamiliar environment I cannot fault the staff or the facilities I came across whilst I was out there.

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Next week I will talking about my experience during my hospital stays, so come back then to hear all about it! If you have any questions do leave them in the comments, I am more than happy to answer.



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