What is it like to deliver a baby in Puerto Rico? Is it difficult if you don't speak Spanish? What are the hospitals like? Do you receive good care? These are definitely questions many outsiders will have when considering moving to Puerto Rico and having a baby. Our birth plan from the beginning was to have a natural birth with no medications. My experience is directly related to this birth plan.
Ever since we arrived to Puerto Rico, we have had Triple-S insurance. This was a big change for us because there are practically no options for private health insurance in St. Croix unless you work for a large company or the government. Because we were fully covered in Puerto Rico, it was very easy to visit the doctor for all routine checkups and we were not out of pocket large amounts. The group of doctors I chose in Cayey also had a midwife that saw patients in Cidra, which is where we live. The waiting time to see the doctors for routine visits was sometimes extremely long, so I chose to visit the midwife instead. It appears that it is very common to wait long periods of time for appointments with healthcare providers in Puerto Rico so plan accordingly. My midwife was great and also owned a company that offered doula services and delivery preparation classes. Because I wanted to have a natural birth, we signed up to have a doula come with us to the hospital and to have multiple classes covering the birth process, postpartum care, and breastfeeding. This was the best decision I could have made and I would highly recommend it to others who are planning on a natural birth.
The hospital we chose in Cayey was Hospital Menonita. It is relatively new and the facilities are immaculately clean and modern. The preregistration process took us about four hours, but our deductible for the entire labor and delivery and postpartum care was only $100. Isn't that crazy!! I didn't mind the wait after we heard that number :) One thing to note about the low cost of healthcare services in Puerto Rico is that you need to bring your own supplies such as blankets, pillows, towels and toiletries. For the reduced cost, I was more than happy to bring my own gear.
When it was time to go to the hospital, the Emergency Room receptionist immediately brought us to the back and we were admitted quickly since my water had already broke that morning. Thankfully Aaron was with me because the receptionist did not speak English and the nurses only spoke a bit of English. But everyone was very helpful and we could tell that they really enjoyed working at the hospital.
We had a private room for the labor and delivery, and I was able to labor freely as I chose with coaching from my doula and Aaron. The nurses were extremely nice and spoke English which was a huge relief for me. One negative during the labor and delivery was that the hospital was extremely cold in temperature. I mean it was seriously freezing in there! A large item to note about this hospital for having a baby is that you do not have a choice of receiving an epidural since they do not have an anesthesiologist on staff that performs this procedure. Make sure you ask about this beforehand if you want the option.
My labor and delivery went smoothly and Penelope was born early in the morning with no surgical intervention. The staff was very professional and caring and treated me very well. Once we moved to postpartum, we again had a large private room with a great view of the mountains. They had tracking devices on all babies and didn't take the baby without verifying her code and my code matched. This made us feel very safe when they took her for different procedures. They let us keep our baby in the room the entire time and offered a lot of help with breastfeeding. Many of the nurses also offered to translate if needed.
If you haven't been exposed to Puerto Rican food, the food served at the hospital might be a shock to you. Being famished, I wasn't a very picky eater but some meals were strange. An example meal was vienna sausages and rice. In this case, plan on getting food elsewhere. I did enjoy the chocolate brownies though :)
Everyone that cared for us was truly great including the pediatrician, my doctor, my doula, the nurses, and even the food delivery staff. I even received a rose from the hospital thanking us for choosing them. I can't really imagine a better hospital experience. We were able to go home after two days and are now enjoying every second with our little Penelope. For those who are considering moving to Puerto Rico, I can safely say that the healthcare services offered here are at high standards and you will be well taken care of.