From Bump to Baby – Where to Give Birth in Florence by Danielle Lisney
I had my first baby in August so spent the summer checking out places to give birth. I only looked at hospitals but there are also private clinics like Villa Donatello. I was surprised to find that no hospitals offer gas and air, it’s an epidural or nothing! If you don’t have a car all hospitals are easy to get to by bus. When my labour started I went to hospital in a taxi, which arrived about a minute after I phoned. Unless you go to Margherita you MUST take all your test results and ultrasounds with you when the big day comes.
Each hospital has a weekly “open day”, usually a talk by a midwife followed by questions and a tour of the ward. Don’t forget if it falls on a holiday it will be cancelled. At Margherita it is only once a month so is moved to the next week.
My Italian isn’t fluent but I didn’t have any language problems, so don’t worry if yours isn’t perfect either. If you don’t have an Italian partner to help with translating it seems the hospitals can always find someone who speaks English if needed.
Good luck and have a happy and healthy motherhood!
Ponte a Niccheri – Bagno a Ripoli/Ponte a Ema area
Every Tuesday from 2-4pm there’s an open day. Midwives give a talk about the facilities and you can have a look around the maternity ward. The talk is in a small building to the left of the main hospital in room Aula B, which I think was on the 1st floor. This hospital promotes natural birth and breastfeeding, but I think an epidural is possible if they think you need it – all will be explained at the open day. There is 1 birthing pool so whether you can use it just depends if it’s empty when you get there!
On the ward there are either 3 or 5 beds in each room and they operate rooming in. You need to take pretty much EVERYTHING you’ll need for your stay – including basics like toilet paper. You’ll be given a list at the open day.
The midwives seemed really friendly and the one I spoke to spoke English. There is a midwife from England who works in the clinic but might be able to come to a birth if the language is a problem. I’ve also been told that Analisa is an amazing midwife! There are signs up in the ward saying that translators are available if needed but on the day I went to visit there was no one who spoke English, but they did ask if French was any help!
If you need to get the bus to the open day take the 32 from San Marco and get off at the 1st hospital building you see.
Torregalli – Scandicci area
Open day here is every Wednesday from 2-4 in a room called Aula Muntoni.
The set-up of the ward is similar to Ponte a Niccheri. The building in general is newer and tidier but the service is much the same.
The main differences are that here you can request an epidural, but whether you get it will depend on availability of an anaesthetist. Also here they do not operate rooming in; babies are taken to the nursery from midnight to six am. As far as I know there isn’t a birthing pool.
Bus no.6 stops right outside, the hospital is the last stop on the route so you can’t miss it.
Unlike the hospitals this is a birth centre only staffed by midwives. Because of this you have to have a complication free pregnancy to be allowed to deliver here. In your 37th week you must have a “checkpoint”, which you need to book at least 1 week in advance. I think these are always on a Wednesday. Call 055 7947605 Monday to Friday from 8.30 to 13.30 to make an appointment. You must take copies of ALL your test results and written pages from ultrasounds.
The open day is the 1st Wednesday of the month from 16.30.
There is no pain relief available here. Each private delivery room has a birthing pool and you can ask for a ball, beanbag or birthing (Dutch) stool. You have your own bathroom and a double bed. Each room also has portable stereo so take any CDs to help you relax. Your partner is welcome to stay the night and encouraged to participate in the birth. My midwife assumed mine wanted to cut the umbilical cord and handed him the scissors without asking! Dad is also expected to help look after baby and he’ll be shown how to change nappies (diapers) and the umbilical cord dressing while you rest.
If there are any problems during labour your midwife will consult a doctor from the main Careggi maternity unit and you may have to be moved there. Generally the midwives will try their best to help you stay in the Margherita but they will always put your baby’s safety first.
Unlike the hospitals everything you need for your stay is provided, you just need clothes for you and baby to go home in and an old t-shirt for the labour. There is a communal kitchen where you can help yourself to bottles of water, yoghurts, milk, fruit and tea and coffee. There are vending machines in the building’s foyer if you want/need something sweet!
You can get here on the no.8 bus; again it’s the last stop.
To be honest this seems the least popular choice, I’ve been told the staff here can be too quick to intervene at the first sign of difficulties and in general aren’t very friendly. I’ve been told you can have an epidural and at the moment they are trialling an opium based pain medication.