Life in Poland

Women of Wroclaw, rejoice…

…for you have joined the civilized world.

Anesthesia during childbirth is now available to the women of Wroclaw. MP900422710[1]

And this time, they really mean it.

Read more here.

Such a headline could be read any given month over the last 5 years in Wroclaw (and elsewhere). The only problem with such an announcement is that until now access to anesthesia for birthing moms was purely hypothetical. The reason? Well, as the Polish saying goes – if you don’t know what it’s about, it’s about the money.

I am not suggesting that moms had to pay for anesthesia. That would have been too easy. Anesthesia, other than a shot of Dolargan* or in my case Vitamin B, was not available because there was no one to administer it…unless you needed (or “needed”) a c-section. Then you were good to go.

Hospitals are refunded a set amount of money for each procedure performed. That includes vaginal births and c-sections, respectively, no matter what resources are actually used in said birth. This amount, on average, is enough to cover the staff, equipment, drugs, etc. needed for each birth or c-section. Hospitals are strongly motivated then to use as few resources as possible with each birth. This system, in fact, would work just fine if not for the lack of anesthesiologists. Even if the hospital allowed patients to pay for the anesthesia, it is not possible to pay for the anesthesiologist.

So, it sounds like I am complaining. Boo-hoo, poor American mom gives birth in this 3rd world country. It was soooo painful and and they didn’t help me at all.

Not true. Ok, it was painful, but they did try to help me…somewhat. Didn’t I mention the Vitamin B shot?

I have given birth in Poland. Twice. Without anesthesia of any kind. I simply didn’t need it which was convenient because they weren’t offering it. Birth is painful. It is true. It is very painful even, but what was more distressing for me than the pain was my complete and total lack of options. You have to give birth i już. Koniec. Kropka.

And so I did. Misiu says that I did an excellent job as well. Don’t you know that I am Super Mom? I even have a t-shirt that says so.

Now if only Wroclaw could do something with its roads.



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  • Reply
    my sons mum
    May 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply
    my sons mum
    May 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    It's all true what you've written. In Poznan, where I live, there's one hospital (Szpital Świętej Rodziny) that offers you epidural on demand. No idea why it's available in this one but not in the others in Poznan. For all I know this hospital isn't subsidized in any special way. But women often say that before the stuff is able to get the anesthesiologist the labor is over:) When I was giving birth to my son I remember myself saying (after 1 shot of Dolargan)'please, give me epidural' and the midwife answering 'I'm not sure if the anesthesiologist is free right now but probably not'. The awareness of being forced to wait maybe one more hour or so was terrible! That's why I totally agree that Poland is still in the Stone Age when it comes to labors. Money makes the world go round and in Poland it REALLY does.

  • Reply
    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I have heard several horror stories from women who gave birth in Poland. My mom's story was not good either, but I always thought that she gave birth many years ago and things have changed since then.But I gave birth in the US and I am not a super mom:) Epidural was available, even though when I asked for it, the nurse said: \”it may be too late – you are 9cm and I am not sure that the anesthesiologist will get here in time\”. He did – and it helped a lot:)!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    But look, 2 births (my son's mum and Kasia), different countries and nobody can find the anesthesiologist. Where do they all go? To some secret meeting room in another dimension?I can write more about how the whole baby business works here in Poland, but I'm not sure anybody would want to read about it. It may be more than you wanted to know about Chris and anyhow storks bring the babies :)Chris

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I don't know where the anesthesiologists go, but I know they are in high demand. We have one in the family (here in the US) and he is semi-retired, but whenever he wants to work, he can always find a temporary job.What I don't understand about the hospitals here, is that the doctors only come when needed and it seems that the nurses sort of run the hospital. I had to fight with the insurance company when I had an ultrasound done while pregnant, because the doctor who read my results was not on my insurance, even though the hospital was. They told me: \”the doctor does not work at the hospital\”. I guess he is like a contractor or something like it. I find it strange…

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