Giving Birth in Russia: Part 2

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Actually, I want to name this post “Expectation vs Reality”, but it might sound quite ambiguous and hard to understand, especially when you only see its title, so I decided to name it differently. Let’s say that this short post is fully dedicated to a concise version of information about giving birth in Russia. Briefly, it’s kind of the second part of this post.

As I said in the previous post, about a week before going into labor, I needed to be hospitalized. I had an overactive imagination about how good and how comfy the room would be, according to the picture I saw while signing the contract, I followed the nurse to the fourth floor of that building, which was a pathology department. 

The corridor was quite wide, with a clean, white floor. Without saying anything more, the nurse told me to report my arrival in the reception area. There, surprisingly, a stern, super-serious nurse with an absence of a smile explained to me about the rules of the maternity hospital. After that, the nurse handed me a set of bed linen.


At that very time, my imagination burst like a broken mirror into pieces.

“Your room is 510. Come here again to take a blood test and ask for lunch in the canteen.” 

I was knocked out. 

Full of surprise, I walked like a zombie to room 510 and found a spacious room with four very modest beds. They were naked, begging me to wrap them in the set of white linen in my hands. 

Here I am

In the room, the facility didn’t cease to amaze me. A table for two, one chair, one television which only showed one channel, one shower and one toilet. Those needed to be shared with your roommates. At that time, I just wondered and kept asking myself, wouldn’t a jail in Norway be more sophisticated than this? 

Some of the rules in the hospital where I stayed are:

  • Please throw away the garbage and don’t pile it up in your room.
  • Breakfast starts from 07.30 until 08.30 am. Lunch starts from 13.00 until 14.00. Dinner starts from 17.30 until 18.30.
  • Please go to the reception area to measure your temperature and blood pressure every morning at 07.00.
  • The doctor will visit patients every day at 10.00 except on weekends.
  • Wash your own dishes!

In short, I made my bed, walked to the canteen and asked for lunch. Everything there was self-service, except the blood test and the cardiogram. They made it as efficient as possible. If they could, I bet they would ask us to do our labor by ourselves after handling us a bunch of papers with instructions.

No, they won’t serve you, nor indulge you. So, what’s the point of asking people to “have a rest” in the hospital if I think that it was twice as tiring as being at home? 

Despite that, I was quite satisfied with the food they served. Homemade, typically Russian food. Every Thursday, you would get fish, as Thursday was known for being fish day during the Soviet era. 

Fish time
For dinner, they usually had something lighter to digest, such as zapekanka (baked sour cream with apricot sauce).
For lunch, I had stuffed bell peppers, soup (borscht), or meatballs and mashed potatoes.

The main principle in a Russian hospital is self-service, like in a supermarket. Be as independent as you can. Only call the nurse when you are really in need (this one, only a nurse can tell, no matter how urgent your problem is).

And after that...

Shortly after they let me “go home” I decided to stay in a hotel not far from the hospital, in case I needed to run there as fast as possible. Due to my condition, just after three days, they asked me to stay again and this time, they would force my daughter to see the world as it was past the due date.

You might imagine (I did) that giving birth is as fast as we can see in the movie. «Oh, darling, I need to rush to the hospital». And 1 hour later, «Congratulations, you are a mother now».

Unfortunately, again that didn’t meet my expectations. My Ob/Gyn needed to do all she could do to hasten the process, using a Foley catheter, and giving me a spoonful of olive oil until IVR with oxytocin. Yet my daughter was as stubborn as me, deciding that it wasn’t a perfect time to go out. She still had a plan of what to do after she first saw the world (at least I guessed so).

Feeling pessimistic about their efforts, I drowned myself in despair. But the professionals did the professional thing. Around 10 pm at night, the thing that I thought was «my water broke». My linen was wet, dirty, and of course, I needed to change it by myself. In quite a panicked situation, I walked slowly to the reception area, asked the nurse to call a doctor, and asked for new linen for me to change.

For the first request, she said «Yes, I will call.”

For the second one, she said, «Wait, just wait.”

The doctor on duty finally came and checked me. Telling me that it wasn’t the water, but the Foley catheter. Yet, I still might need to move to the labor room and wait for further instruction.

What about my bed? The nurse refused to give me the linen and I needed to stay in a dirty bed. At that time, what I wanted to do was curse. But, instead of doing that, I tried to find another nurse, the good one that I knew. Without hesitation, she brought me to the drawer, took new linen and handed it to me. Why on earth did I need to wait if that previous nurse could take it easily from a drawer beside her?

In short, 2 hours later, after doing all the procedures before going into labor, I walked with another expectant mother to another room. 

And here what happened in the labor room:

Unfortunately, my hospital was known as the first maternity hospital in Moscow that allowed new mothers to see what it’s like being a real mother from the very first day. That may sound as normal as you could imagine; however, this concept is not as nice as you think. 

Imagine, the first day after labor, you may want to rest for a while, gathering new energy to take care of your newborn a few days after. You can rest in bed the whole day except for breastfeeding. At least, that is what usually happens in Indonesia. However, this is not Indonesia. We are in Moscow, the capital of Mother Russia, so that rule doesn’t apply here.

After one day of being in an intensive care unit as I had a high temperature after labor, they sent me to my room – a room with two beds separated by a wall, which provided me a bit more privacy than the previous one. Right after they pushed me along the corridor in a wheelchair and I landed my ‘sexy butt’ in my new quite comfy bed, a nurse brought along my newborn – fresh as a cucumber and fit as a fiddle. That was the happiest moment I’ve ever had. Looking at her face through the transparent box, so serene, so peaceful, before finally she started to cry!

And the drama has begun. 

I had to drag myself out of the room, no matter how. With my hurt butt, blackout, combined with dizziness and breathlessness, I slowly paced up and down the hospital corridor looking for the nurse, asking for help. Being a mother without taking a course beforehand is really challenging. Some say that nature itself will guide you on what to do. In reality, sometimes it doesn’t work out like that. There was nobody there. The nurse room was located right at the end of the corridor. Congratulations! A long walk will heal your wound faster (as any other Russians may say to you).

Shortly after that, I eventually found a nurse who taught me what to do. 

This hospital was really a nightmare for me. A little bird told me that one woman cried hysterically as she panicked and nobody helped her in this hospital. And, as a new mother, I fully understand her anxiety.

However, I do remember that there was one really good nurse. She frequently checked on me and the baby in the room, something that the other nurses didn’t do. Every hour she knocked on my door, or just entered as I never closed my door, and asked whether everything was OK or maybe I needed some help. I feel really thankful for what she has done for us. Not only did she really care, but she also helped me when I had problems with diapers, taught me how to swaddle the baby properly, and so forth.

Despite the nightmare I had to face, there certainly were some people ready to help – not many, of course, but enough for us.

So, are you sure that you want to try to give birth in Russia? My hospital may be the most ‘unique’ one. I still have no idea how it works in other hospitals. Maybe I need to try the others someday? 


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