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Old 18.11.2006, 19:09
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Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi all parents!

:-)

My husband and I are expecting our first child in March and I will be giving birth here in Geneva. We are in the middle of deciding which hospital/clinic to go to for the birth and will be doing a bit of a tour to check them all out tomorrow.

I am planning for a natural birth as much as is possible - ie. natural pain relief, no invasive procedures etc... (barring any unforseen circumstances that would call for intervention of course).

I was wondering if there were any parents out there who have already given birth in Swiss hospitals/clinics who would like to share any advice/tips/stories of their birth experiences (good or bad) and any recommendations you might have for a first timer?

Anything specific I should know about the Swiss hospitals/clinics and their way of doing things that you might think is important to know in hindsight??? Or any other things you might want to share...

Appreciate your input!
Rachael
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Old 18.11.2006, 19:41
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hello Rachael

Congratulations!

I've had two babies in Switzerland (German speaking part) and you'll be pleased to hear that they are very much into doing things naturally over here.
You should ask whether there are any birthing houses in your area (no idea what the French term is). They are run by midwives and it's a very relaxed and natural atmosphere. No medical intervention (wherever possible).

They are very much into homeopathic pain relief over here as well, as I found out whilst begging for something stronger!!!

Good luck with the pregnancy and birth!
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Old 29.11.2006, 15:29
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi, I am in exactly the same situation, so did not want to start a new thread. I am hoping that someone will provide more information on this subject.

My husband and I are aslo expecting our first baby in March. We are moving to Geneva in late February/early March provided we find a clinic in Geneva. Otherwise, we stay here till May. It's a dicision we have to make. We are moving from Japan (we are not Japanese), and I urgently need to know, if there is a midwifery clinic in Geneva that will let me have a natural nonmedicated birth, in WATER.

I called Geneva Family Planning Centre (Tel: +41 (0)22 372 55 00) and they said it is not very popular in Switzerland. I guess natural birth in a hospital is ok, but not a water birth. Does anyone have any information on the subject or a name of a specific clinic? It will be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Oliya.
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Old 29.11.2006, 15:54
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Oliya,

I can't help with Geneva specifics since I live near Zurich but I can tell you that water births in Switzerland are possible. I know of at least 2 hospitals in Zurich that have the facilities for this so I would presume that the same would be the case in Geneva. Your best bet would probably be to check with the hospitals directly.

Also I don't want to burst your bubble being a first time mother but it is not always possible to have the kind of birth you want. Things like water baths for the birth are usually on a first come first served basis and not bookable in advance for obvious reasons.

Good luck with the birth and don't be afraid to ask for painkillers during labour if you feel you need them even if it is the last thing you think you are going to want now
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Old 29.11.2006, 16:04
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Oliya

My son was born in Klinik Im Park in Zürich (www.klinik-impark.ch) which definitely had the facilities for a drug free birth in water and they took great delight in showing it off. I notice on their web site that they have many other clinics around Switzerland. I didn't see one specifically for Geneva but maybe if you contact them they could recommend something.

All the best.
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Old 29.11.2006, 18:04
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

I gave birth at Klink Im Park the first time, wonderful hospital! Problem is it is a private hospital as are all hospitals in the Hirslanden group. Anyone coming into Switzerland already pregnant can not get private coverage with their health insurance. The birth will be covered only under the basic terms, any extras would have to be coevered out of the patients own pocket.
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Old 29.11.2006, 18:30
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

I've done a wee bit of digging around and found this:

Dr. med. Fasnacht OB/GYN
Hôpital du Chablais
chemin de Grand Chêne
1860 Aigle
Tel: (024) 468-8650
Fax: (024) 468-8651

"Dr. Fasnscht is an advocate of water birthing, and in fact played a leading role in establishing it in mainstream Switzerland. He has takes a natural, woman-centered approach to pregnancy and childbirth."

There is also Midwives in Geneva:

http://www.arcade-sages-femmes.ch/
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Old 29.11.2006, 18:54
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Oliya,

Thanks for contacting me about the thread I started :-) Actually since i posted it up on the site my husband and I have been doing a lot of research about the different options in Geneva...so wanted to share them with you!

We did a tour of all the private clinics here - Clinique de Grangettes, Clinique de Beaulieu, Hopital de la Tour and also the University Hospital in Geneva (which isn't private, but you can have a private room there if you want)

I asked a lot of detailed questions and we looked at all of their birthing rooms and then the rooms you stay in afterwards...

Something we found out was that all of the cliniques had a much higher rate of intervention (ie. use of epidurals, induction and also ceserean section compared with the university hospital) The facilities in all the cliniques were pretty much the same - they had a birthing room where you had to give birth and then you would stay there up to 2 hours after you have given birth and then you would be moved to your private or semi private room afterwards.

The birthing rooms didnt have much in them other than a bed- where they expect you to lie on to give birth. I asked about other natural options but they weren't very optimistic as they said it depended on what your doctor was open to or not. ie. whether your doctor would let you kneel or squat or do whatever while giving birth -but they said mostly not. The clinique beaulieu did have one birthing room that had a big tub but the midwife who did the tour for us said it had only ever been used for the actual birth by one doctor who was very progressive - otherwise all the other doctors will let you sit in it or something maybe while you are going through labour but expect you to be on the table for the actual pushing and delivery. (Something i totally don't agree with - its only for the convenience of the doctor! it actually makes contractions more painful and can put pressure on your back etc...and can lead to more tearing...but anyway...)

The clinique de Grangettes had an alternative birthing room that had a special swing/seat kind of thing that you could sit in in order to give birth - i sat in it and it was quite comfy, but looked a little awkward and not sure if you would feel like that towards the end...but again, that room would only be available on a first come first serve basis...so not sure if it would be available then...

I asked about their policies on eating and drinking and all the cliniques had the same policy that they don't allow you to eat or drink once you have been admitted - and they insert a drip needle straight away as well (without anything attached to it at first) just in case they have to perform an emergency c section or something...but to be honest i think that sucks the most and is one of the main things that turned me off those cliniques...mostly becuase if you go into early labour and you go there fairly early...you will be so hungry and thirsty that that alone will make you weak and exhausted...so much so that you would probably be a lot more likely to end up needing or getting an epidural or having some kind of intervention....

Also, if you were staying home as long as possible before going into hospital/clinique you would be allowed to eat and drink naturally...so would have stuff in your stomach anyway...and that never stops them from performing emergency c-sections...so the logic doesn't quite fit in their reasoning for not letting you eat or drink.

A really good book to read if you want to be informed of a lot of really really good research and information about all the different procedures and common practices that surround labour and birth is called:
"The Thinking Woman's Guide To a Better Birth" by Henci Goer and its brilliant cause it gives you all the pros and cons of all the different procedures and background history on how and why certain things were started etc... very informative and not one sided.

Anyway, The cliniques also work in the sense that the midwife will stay with you throughout the birthing process but when she sees you are getting closer she will call the obstetrician who will then come in and deliver the baby. (I think this is possibly partly why their rate of intervention is a lot higher and their episiotomy, epidural and c-sections are more often performed - becuase at the end the obstetrician comes in and does not know the whole process, but just has the perspective of speeding up the process and getting that baby out...obviously not all obstretitians are like that, but i am generalizing obviously)

Anyway, the cliniques did have nicer bigger birthing rooms in general than the hospital, but the downside was that once you are moved to your private room, anytime you want to change the baby or give it a bath or anything, you have to take it down with you to the nursery, which isnt always just near your room.

You can however keep the baby in your room with you all the time if you want, and even during the night...the midwives will only take it to the nursery if you want them to to give you a break. They all do encourage breastfeeding so at least thats good. They will bring the baby back to you each time it needs feeding and they don't feed it bottles or anything. The general length of stay at a clinique after birth is about 4 - 6 days (depending on what intervention you have had, if you have a C-section its definately at least 6) At the hospital you can go home generally after 24 hours if you want, or you can stay longer as well.

Umm...lets see what else do you need to know...oh yeah, the University hospital seemed by far the best option in terms of if you had to give birth in a hospital, just for the simple reason that the midwives are the ones who give birth to the babies and their rates of intervention and stuff are much lower. Although you are still in a hospital setting and there is no tub or anything there, if you had to go somewhere for whatever reason, that would be the place. They do have a little stool called the Mayan stool which you can give birth on if you want to, it allows you to give birth in a sort of sitting/sqwatting position which looked like it could also be good, depending on how much strength you had at that point to sit on it, being supported of course by your husband or a midwife...

(The hospital is where I have chosen to go if something unexpected happens and i have to have intervention of some kind, although i certainly don't want it and am not hoping for it - but have to be realistic and have the backup plan established of course) ;-)

The other option instead of having a clinic or hospital birth is to do a home birth assisted by an independent midwife. (We have decided to go for this option - after all our research etc...)

There is a Midwife Office in Geneva where all the independent midwives work from. You can be followed by a midwife for prenatal and postnatal care and also have her be the one to deliver your baby at home if you like. If you have a normal or good insurance policy it should cover this, as they are generally all registered etc and you can claim back on your insurance if you have a midwife attended birth.

We met with a midwife called Veronique who speaks English and French and who is very experienced, she has given birth to over 90 home birth babies in Geneva and she seemed very down to earth and natural -really put me at ease with the whole process and actually for the first time since doing the tour and checking out the hospitals i began to look forward to the birth experience again. She said what happens is you meet with the midwife normally once a month leading up to the birth and then several times before hand if you need to...depending on the situation, and then when you go into labor you just call her and then she will come when you are ready for her, and she stays with you right the way through, respecting your needs, wishes etc...and helping you through the process and then towards the end when she sees you are getting close she calls the second midwife to come and then there are two midwives to attend the actual birth. Then they stay with you for at least 2 hours afterwards and do cleanup etc...and then your midwife will come and check on you at least once per day after the birth, and also help you with the breastfeeding.

This is the website for the Midwife center - unfortunately its only in french...http://www.arcade-sages-femmes.ch/

There is a small birthing house out in Nyon - a town close to Geneva, but its not covered by insurance and it is a bit more difficult to book etc...I went and checked it out but it didn't look like a very feasible option and also was smaller and a bit more complicated (had upstairs and downstairs and seemed quite pokey) than our apartment, so I just decided to stay at home.

I would highly recommend the midwives at the Midwives office, i think just from being there and talking to them they are very experienced and very much into the whole natural thing...they are very patient and will generally let the process take its natural course...they will only intervene and say you need to go to the hospital or clinic if they know that something is wrong or you are not progressing normally at all or they see complications...so in that sense home birth is really great because Geneva is so small you have the security of still knowing you could be in a clinic or hospital within 10 minutes if you needed to be.

Anyway...I am probably overloading you with information right now, but there is certainly a lot to figure out...

You would have to find out for sure if you would be covered by insurance for giving birth at home with a midwife, and also whether or not the midwife would be willing to do a home birth with you if you are only going to be arriving in February. If you like I could talk to my midwife and ask her if that is even possible...just let me know, I would be happy to make some calls for you and find out whatever information I could to help you out.

Also, you would need to find a good obstetrician and pediatrician here once you arrive - I can recommend my one very much - Yvan Lagnaux - he was recommended to me because he is very known for being non-invasive and natural in his approach - (he is the doctor that I was told about at the Clinique de Grangette who had performed the only water birth in their tub) and his wife is a pediatrician who works in the same office, so that makes it really easy for appointments ;-)

I'm not sure how natural they do things in Japan - i guess that is something you will have to weigh up in making your decision whether to come here to give birth or just stay there longer to give birth. Hope its not too stressful for you to figure out which option to go for!

I am definitely available though if you have any other questions about stuff related to Geneva or anything...I am not working now, but am home studying part time, so I have a bit of time on my hands normally and could check into things for you if you need a hand on this end.
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Old 29.11.2006, 21:44
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Quote:
The birthing rooms didnt have much in them other than a bed- where they expect you to lie on to give birth. I asked about other natural options but they weren't very optimistic as they said it depended on what your doctor was open to or not. ie. whether your doctor would let you kneel or squat or do whatever while giving birth -but they said mostly not. The clinique beaulieu did have one birthing room that had a big tub but the midwife who did the tour for us said it had only ever been used for the actual birth by one doctor who was very progressive - otherwise all the other doctors will let you sit in it or something maybe while you are going through labour but expect you to be on the table for the actual pushing and delivery. (Something i totally don't agree with - its only for the convenience of the doctor! it actually makes contractions more painful and can put pressure on your back etc...and can lead to more tearing...but anyway...)

The clinique de Grangettes had an alternative birthing room that had a special swing/seat kind of thing that you could sit in in order to give birth - i sat in it and it was quite comfy, but looked a little awkward and not sure if you would feel like that towards the end...but again, that room would only be available on a first come first serve basis...so not sure if it would be available then...

I asked about their policies on eating and drinking and all the cliniques had the same policy that they don't allow you to eat or drink once you have been admitted - and they insert a drip needle straight away as well (without anything attached to it at first) just in case they have to perform an emergency c section or something...but to be honest i think that sucks the most and is one of the main things that turned me off those cliniques...mostly becuase if you go into early labour and you go there fairly early...you will be so hungry and thirsty that that alone will make you weak and exhausted...so much so that you would probably be a lot more likely to end up needing or getting an epidural or having some kind of intervention....
It's amazing to me how different birth is in different parts of the same country! I've had 2 babies in Kanton Zurich one in a private hospital and one in the local regional hospital. Both of them activley encouraged birth to be as natural a process as possible. Both discouraged giving birth on your back and drip needles are only given when needed. The private hspital also had special birthing beds that can move into all sorts of positions to make life easier.
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Old 29.11.2006, 22:04
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Yes it sounds like two completely different ways of doing things...I know of a lot of friends (and relatives) who are Swiss German who have had home births and really natural birth procedures...and it seems to be much more common in the Swiss german part than in the french speaking parts.

Granted though, all the midwives we did talk to at the hospitals/cliniques did say that they would always try and respect the wishes of the mother giving birth as much as possible - ie. if she wants to have a natural birth...but it sounded like certain policies in the hospital/cliniques kind of worked against that a lot of times.

Was a very informative tour! I guess I'll also have a lot more experience/info once I have had my first baby!
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Old 30.11.2006, 13:51
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

I've been told that the Hospital La Tour has a water bath but this is only used during labour and not for the actual birth. Also some of the midwifes at the midwife association will perform a home water birth.
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Old 30.11.2006, 14:02
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Lou,

Yes you are right that the Hospital de la Tour did have a water bath, but when we went to do the tour the hospital was (is) undergoing renovations and the maternity rooms have been moved downstairs to a more modern area, but they don't have the waterbirth facilities anymore...they didn't say if they would be reinstated, but for sure not by march -as they didnt say it was an option at all.
So unfortunately it seems that its not possible at the moment.

But yes, the midwives would be able to perform a home water birth, probably it would depend on what kind of a bathtub you had, or whether you set up some kind of little portable tub thing in the room or something...You'd probably have to talk to the midwife to see if she is comfortable doing that.

I have seen several home birth videos where they had set up a small inflatable kiddie pool in the room (lounge or bedroom) and used that for the water birth...seemed like it worked really well but I think i would be paranoid that it would burst or something and then how would we clean up all the water! heheh...
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Old 30.11.2006, 14:06
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

I don't know about here but I know back in the UK you can hire proper birthing pools which I guess are like a biger/deeper version of the kiddie ones. The midwifes would definatley be the best people for Oliya to speak to to discuss options.
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Old 30.11.2006, 15:43
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Rachael and Everyone!

Wow, I really did not expect so much useful information so quickly! I cannot thank you enough. I wll definitely need a good obstetrician and pediatrician, so if I may, I hope to contact you about that again soon, Rachael. It seems like apart from clinics, there is a huge question about an insurance coverange. I think I will need more than just the basic coverage, particularly if I would like to have a home birth. I don't think giving birth in water at home is a good idea at all. I found out that there is a lot involved in delivering a baby in water and doing it right. I think I would either need to phone these clinics in Geneva (I actually don't speak French) and really question them on their practices and procedures. While researching this subject I found out a few facts and statistics:

"In 1987, women in a Copenhagen hospital were offered the choice of taking a warm bath in their first stage of labour. Over half the women accepted the offer and found that they dilated at twice the rate of women who stayed dry."

"When asked what was their most successful form of pain relief, women at West London Hospital who had had three or more children said that a warm bath was more effective than drugs"

I would really like some flexibility from the clinic I do choose.

Basically the situation in Japan is quite dire, when it comes to water births or natural births at all. The midwives here do not even have medical degrees, technically. They hold no drugs, as they are not allowed to administer them by law. If I choose a clinic here with a midwife, I will not have access to drugs, no matter how much I beg. This is not an issue for me, however. I will be visiting the only midwife in the area next week, who is 75 years old and is rather famous. So all my hope is on her. She says her clinic has so far delivered over 800 babies in water. Otherwise, all the women I know that had children here had either terrible experiences, while giving birth hor simply had a cecarean.

A short story: One of my friends had a baby last March too. The end result was her doctor, after detecteding her high blood pressure and noting it on her chart every week, did not mention anything to her for weeks. He did nothing about it until one day, when he sent her to the hospital and said she can no longer give birth at his clinic. She was immediately hospitalised and was told she had to have induced labor withing 2 days, because she was in 'a dangerous situation'. Her ancles were very swallen, and she had sevear water retention. She was only on week 37. After 18 hours of induced contractions, she could not dilate. The doctors decided to continue the next day and sent her to her room. In the middle of the night, real contractions started. After much pain (no epidural or pain killers), and screaming for another 8 hours, she fell unconcious from exhaustion. Her husband was whith her the whole time. He kept on insisting and asking doctors for a cecarean, but they refused, saying that it was too early. Then they called for an interpreter, revived her, made her sign some papers, had a meeting for 1.5 hours, and 3 hours after that, got the baby out! This is a true story.

Anyway, I got a bit sidetracked.
Thanks again for all the suggestions. My husband and I shall think about all this.

Oliya.
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Old 30.11.2006, 15:54
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Don't worry too much about the language, there are midwife's at the association who speak English and most of the hospital's have sections of their website in English so I'm sure will have staff who speak it too. Best of luck whatever you decide .
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Old 28.01.2007, 01:06
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Quote:
I gave birth at Klink Im Park the first time, wonderful hospital! Problem is it is a private hospital as are all hospitals in the Hirslanden group. Anyone coming into Switzerland already pregnant can not get private coverage with their health insurance. The birth will be covered only under the basic terms, any extras would have to be coevered out of the patients own pocket.
This is a great thread, thanks to everyone for the detailed info, we are looking at moving to Geneva and are 3 months prenant. I was wondering what to expect relative to the health insurance issue, does anyone have any more details on what to expect moving to Switzerland already pregnant? What would be basic versus extra?
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Old 29.01.2007, 10:49
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Hi Dan,

Basic insurance, which is mandatory, covers all aspects of the birth including the hospital stay and all the gynecologists visits in the run up to the birth. Any extras will be things that you choose such as if you wish to upgrade to a private room you can pay for that separately (if there is a room available and the hospital allows it). It also includes visits to a breast feeding nurse and home visits from a midwife after the birth. Having a baby with only the basic coverage is no problem and if you are coming from the UK seem like a luxury hotel compared to most NHS maternity units!
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Old 29.01.2007, 12:59
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Dan, I thought that i would add that if you just have the basic insurance then you are not able to go to the clinic hospitals that most expats go to but can only go to the state hospital. Also if you just have the basic insurance your wife will be delivered by whomever is on duty at the time at the state hospital. If you go for the complementary insurance, which you can do arriving here and being pregnant already, then you will be seen to by a OB\GYN all through the pregnancy and they will be the one who delivers you too not just anybody. BIG bonus.

On the subject of home\water births..... Just wanted to add that the French side of CH does not readily embrace home or water births but it is quite largely accepted in the German part. You can find water\home births in the French side but dont expect it to be an easy task or well supported.
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Old 29.01.2007, 13:47
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Quote:
Dan, I thought that i would add that if you just have the basic insurance then you are not able to go to the clinic hospitals that most expats go to but can only go to the state hospital. Also if you just have the basic insurance your wife will be delivered by whomever is on duty at the time at the state hospital. If you go for the complementary insurance, which you can do arriving here and being pregnant already, then you will be seen to by a OB\GYN all through the pregnancy and they will be the one who delivers you too not just anybody. BIG bonus.

On the subject of home\water births..... Just wanted to add that the French side of CH does not readily embrace home or water births but it is quite largely accepted in the German part. You can find water\home births in the French side but dont expect it to be an easy task or well supported.
Wannabe+ can you clarify what you mean by "complementary insurance" please. It is my understanding, I'm sure we covered it in another thread too, that if you come to Switzerland already pregnant then you can only be covered by basic insurance. If you have a different experience can you post the details?

Edit: found the link to the other post Health insurance for children
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Old 29.01.2007, 14:43
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Re: Birth experience in Swiss hospitals/clinics -advice/tips/stories?

Complimentary insurance is the term that my insurance company uses to describe the insurance option about the basic which will cover your stay in a private clinic etc, etc.

I am positive that you can come to CH pregnant and get the higher cover as I know of quite a few expats who have done this. You get what you pay for in terms of insurance, what i mean is that if you arrive pregnant than you can get the higher, complimentary insurance option, so long as you pay the higher premium. It is probably worth it though as i have priced the option of using basic insurance and still going to a clinic and the difference you would have to pay is 5400chf extra, over and above what the basic insurance covers, for the hospital stay and this does not include the OB\GYNs rate for the delivery.
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