A suburban US raised white girl (I’m more like translucent but whatever) five months into her new Belize life daring to give birth in the meanest city in Belize. The only explanation for this happening must be I hadn’t been here long enough to know better – my friends later told me. I was shocked to find out so many Belizeans actually leave Belize to give birth. They don’t trust their own system. And with some years behind me now – I know why.
I’ve had a rash of people lately asking me about expats having babies in Belize – so here’s the story.
Belize is not set up to handle premature babies or mothers with extenuating circumstances. The NICU in Belize City was closed in 2013 because there were too many infant deaths and just reopened in 2014. So if you were an older mother, or you knew your child had a small chance of anything other than a perfect, normal delivery – Belizeans would go to the US or the UK or sometimes even Mexico or Guatemala. Understandably. I would have too.
I – thankfully – had a very healthy baby and a great experience giving birth in Belize City at Belize Medical Associates. I’m also crazy like that. I think I’ve even convinced some of the locals to give it a try. Other than my family not being with us, it was one of my best (out of 3) birthing experiences. When it came time for labor I actually needed to be induced – something I had done before (baby #1) and hated it. But my blood sugar had spiked and I was a week and a half out from my due date – so we decided to induce. My OB went very very slow with the medication. I told her I responded quickly to smaller amounts of meds than most people. She took my word for it and proceeded with caution. I really felt like I was being treated like a person – and not just another woman giving birth who thinks she knows what she wants. Which is how I felt in the US hospital.
The entire time I am in labor I had my own midwife attending to me as well as my OB. She encouraged me to eat (yes eat!) walk, rock in the chair and move around any way I could. I was never hooked up to machines and told to stay in bed. For me- this was awesome! Last time I gave birth in a hospital I was strapped down to monitors and told I should just go ahead and have an epidural so I didn’t need to move so much!! Blah. So my midwife, husband and I labored through most of the day together. Eating and laughing and sending FB pics to the grandparents and family back home.
I opted to go the all-natural route with no epi and no pain meds. There are options for this, but natural delivery is more the norm in Belize. So unless you specify it’s assumed you’re going natural 🙂
When we knew the delivery was getting close, the hospital called in our pediatrician who ALSO attends the birth. So when little Beena was born she had her doctor and I had mine. It was beautiful, thoughtful, and seamless. You could tell this team had done this many many times. Everyone was calm, encouraging and patient.
And the best part – the entire two night stay, entire birth, and EVERYTHING they gave us in the hospital came to a grand total of $1500. Yes, you heard me right.
I think we need to encourage some Belize Birthing Vacations ™ (coming soon???). It’ll be just like a destination wedding – except you bring the fam down to Belize for a vacation AND they get to experience the birth of your baby! You could bring the whole damn family for the price of having a baby in the US (even with insurance!)
The little booger is about to be 4 this Summer – and has had excellent attentive medical care her entire life. Thanks to all the doctors and nurses who’ve helped our family and who made our transition to Belize so easy!
Want to know more about having a baby in Belize as an expat? Hit me up! firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.