I have had quite a few people ask me about my experience of pregnancy and birth in Bulgaria so I have compiled a blog, based on my personal experience.
I hope this will be useful information for anyone who is thinking about having a baby out here, and clears up any questions or worries that you might have - hopefully this will help you to enjoy and relax during this time without the added pressures of not knowing the bulgarian processes.
First off .. expect a lot of fuss! Being pregnant gets you a lot of positive attention, no standing in queues, lots of smiles and questions, and special treatment. They love a baby over here! Be prepared for a bit of old school advice from some of the older generation but enjoy being spoiled for a few months 😉
Dr Biver, seems to be the main pregnancy doctor for our town Svilengrad. We really liked her. She ran her clinic at certain times each day and always told you which day and date to turn up on next.We got a scan every time we went there.
We had heard that bulgaria favour c sections so we made it clear from the begining we wanted a natural birth and to breastfeed afterwards. She was very happy with this so make sure you find a doctor who is supportive of natural birth.
We had a 12 week scan, and a 20 week scan. After this, we had monthly check ups with her, where she did a scan each time, checked the baby's heartbeat, and recorded blood pressure and weight.
We did not get a midwife or health consultant every two weeks like the UK.
You get the doctor each time, and this is who will deliver your baby and make decisions at the birth . So you want to choose someone you are comfortable with and trust. Our doctor did not speak any English and although we got by, I recommend finding one who does unless you are proficient in bulgarian medical speak!
During the 9 months, I had 3 sets of blood tests, and 1 urine test. We had the tests done in the morning and the results were ready by the afternoon. I was low in iron, so had iron tablets prescribed by her.
2 months before due date she wanted me to take magnesium tablets to stop potential early contractions. I did not take these though out of preference. However, I felt cared for and looked after throughout.
Some doctors offer an anomaly scan, some you have to ask.
The cost of giving birth varies from hospital to hospital.
We can only speak from personal experience. It is important to get your health insurance sorted out prior to bring pregnant, as it can be more difficult after.
In Bulgaria, it is still not common for the men to be at the birth. So this narrowed down our choices for hospitals. You have a mandatory stay of 3 days after giving birth and again , partners and visitors will have to abide by normal visiting hours.
We spent quite a while looking around. We narrowed it down to three, worth mentioning here.
Sofia - Zebra Midwives. They encourage natural birth, are a team of midwives and even have a birthing pool.
Stara Zagora - very modern and clean. If no one else giving birth that day, your partner can be with you.
Selena Private Hospital Plovdiv.
We decided on Selena Private Hospital in Plovdiv. They encourage natural birth, and have midwives too. Most of the doctor's speak English, and it is modern,clean and friendly. Partners are also encouraged to be at the birth. I can't think of anywhere I would rather have been. Joe was able to be at the birth, we had our own private room so he could stay the 3 days with us.
Costs of birth vary in region and in hospital. This is a rough add up of ours.
Around 2400 Lev for natural birth. ( This includes induction assistance if required eg epidural )
400 Lev for your partner to be present
100lev per night for private room.
After the Birth :
You are looked after, with visits from a physio, and frequent check ups from doctor's and nurses for mother and baby.
We had two vaccinations for our little girl 1 day after she was born, Hep B and TB. You do not get a vitamin K shot. These are not mandatory, but you will have to let the nurses know before birth if you want to opt out of vaccs. Vaccinations are very similar to UK , but they happen sooner.
They would take our little girl for a check up with the peadatrician each morning, checking movement, reflexes, eyes ears etc. They will keep your baby downstairs until you ask for her back to give you a rest - we didn't realise this so after an hour of panic - we asked for her back and from then on the peadatrician came to us so we didn't have to be apart from her.
We had a generally positive experience in all, but it is worth putting the time in to find the hospital you are giving birth in early on and then having a doctor from that hospital take over and do scans etc.
Please feel free to message us directly of you want any further info or recommendations. I am also happy to divulge information about my actual birth experience , if asked, no horror stories don't worry :) I hope this has made an already overwhelming experience a little clearer :)