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Florence Birth Story #2: Lisa and Matteo at Torre Galli Hospital

This is part of an on-going interview series that shares the experiences of expat moms who have given birth in Florence. The aim is not only to tell their stories but also to provide pregnant foreign moms with an informational resource on the different birthing options in Florence and what to expect, from natural home birth to fully medicalized hospital birth and everything in between. 

Lisa Matteo birthstories

Lisa is from Australia. She first came to Florence ten years ago to learn Italian and ended up staying for two years. Then she came back to visit many times after her twin sister moved here. During one of those visits she met her current boss, a fashion importer, who found out she worked in the same industry in Australia and invited her to work for him here. She met her now-husband through work. Lisa also blogs about her life in Florence at My Tuscan Journal.

When you were pregnant, how did you prepare for childbirth?

I read a lot, but I read my books. [Laughs]

I.e. not Italian books?

Yeah. I travel a lot for work, so each time I went to the States I’d buy books there. I bought a great book called You: Having a Baby and I was really fit so I continued swimming throughout my pregnancy—you know, a lot of Italians are shocked and ask, Are you supposed to do that? I stopped riding a scooter so, you know, that was good of me.

How early on did you stop riding the scooter?

I actually still rode it when I knew I was pregnant in the early days. I mean I didn’t have a tummy or anything. But I stopped running because being 40 I couldn’t. I suddenly felt really fragile. I was scared. It took me eight months to get pregnant and I started thinking maybe I couldn’t. It was just psychological. My girlfriend said, You can still run! My girlfriend ran until the 7th month!

Your girlfriend back home, I take it?

She’s American and wrote me on Facebook, but yeah. I was like, that’s fine, but it’s just not my choice.

So how did you choose to go to Torre Galli?

I like the idea of the Margherita [birthing centre] but I had my heart set on an epidural. They had an information session at Torre Galli and it was fantastic. They had the anaesthetist, the midwife, the nurse, the obstetrician, each one doing a talk. It went on for over two hours. I didn’t expect to be so informative. It was great talking about what we needed to bring, they explained the epidural, how it’s inserted and all the rest of it.

Can they guarantee it?

No. And this is the whole thing too. When I was there and the contractions started to get really painful when they induced me, I asked for the epidural and they said, Oh we just have to call the anaesthetist because there’s only one on duty and we don’t know if he’s around. And I was like, What?! So, no, they can’t.

And you didn’t realize that that could happen beforehand?

No, I just assumed that it was a given. You reach this certain stage and …

Well, if you think about where we come from, it is that way.

Well, it’s really funny because I went home for Christmas and I have a friend who’s a doctor and she said, There’s no way—the fact that you were one week overdue, you’re forty, and your waters have broken—there’s no way they would have waited that long before deciding to give you a cesar. They waited till the very last, till basically he was at risk. I mean, I would go back there. I really found the obstetricians so lovely and fantastic. But, one of the obstetricians who was with me for the last twelve hours, she said to me, Well, we see it as a bit of a sconfitta, like we’ve failed when someone comes in for a natural birth and then they end up having a cesar, so we try everything we can. But I’m like, Yeah, but there’s got to be a time, a line where you say, well, no, what’s more important here, the health of … and it had been going on …

And also to give the choice to the mother…

I kept saying, Look I’m not against a cesar, I want you to know that. Because at that stage I was exhausted. It had been going on for so long. And physically I just thought I can’t, I don’t even know if I can push anymore. And the pain was just … and they’d given me, this was like three epidurals. So I had gone nine hours and then they said we can’t give you another epidural dose after this. I was also toxic. In Australia, they said, That’s a lot of drugs, they wouldn’t do that here.

Let’s go backwards.

Right, so I went there for the information thing, and I had to sign a release saying that I wanted the epidural, which I didn’t know either. I thought, Imagine if you hadn’t signed that and then you get there and you suddenly say, I want the drugs!

Oh my goodness, right! Can you sign it at the last minute?

I think you can.

So that was a coincidence that you found out about it, they didn’t make that clear?

I didn’t know that when we went to this information thing that we would be signing this form as well.

Interesting. So someone could decide to go to Torre Galli and think they don’t need to go to the information session and then …

Well, it’s every Wednesday. But even if you didn’t go, you can tell them this is what I want and they’ll give you the release form to sign. Because when I went in there [to give birth] the first thing they did was go through my folder and look for that and the last blood test you had. Or was it …

Like the tampone or something?

Yeah. Well, I nearly didn’t do that either, so lucky I did because it was the first thing they asked for, and if you don’t have it then they just put you on antibiotics, though they put me on antibiotics anyway because my waters had broken.

But I was happy to go there. The other reason I chose to go there was because, at first, when I found out, they had the nursery still—they don’t anymore, they were just changing that while I was there—at first, I said to my sister, Oh, I don’t know about the nursery. And she goes, I know you think you want that baby next to you straight away twenty-four-seven, but she said, Appreciate the time that they’re there to help you and use that time to rest. And in hindsight I’m so glad, because having had the caesarean, I had no idea how debilitating it would be, how I wouldn’t be able to move or how painful it was, so I was pleased. Another reason, I had been to Careggi to visit a girlfriend who’d had a baby at Christmas and I was really unimpressed, it just looked—I know they’ve just re-done the whole maternity ward and it looks amazing—but [at the time] it looked old, it looked dirty … So in the end I weighed everything up and chose Torre Galli.

And so your waters broke …

Yeah, at like two a.m. … I said [to her husband], I think my waters have broken, call the hospital. See if I should go in or if I should wait. And they said, No, no, you need to come in. It was funny because it was two a.m. and we were driving up the viale past all the nightclubs and everyone’s out and I have this towel wrapped around my legs. So I’m sitting on this towel in the car, saying, Wow, this is it! And I was a week overdue too. And then I get to the hospital and they do the internal and they said, You’re not dilated at all. And I wasn’t having contractions and I said, Do I go back home? And they were like, No, no, you have to stay here overnight. So of course that night I didn’t sleep, because I’m thinking any minute now I’m going to start to feel contractions. You know, that’s what I was expecting. And nothing the next day. I kept doing the tracciato, the foetal monitor thing, and … nothing. They said, Look, we have a protocol here where we wait for twenty-four hours before we induce you. And in the meantime there was a girl opposite me who they induced with the gel. We went for dinner and suddenly we hear these screams. I mean in a matter of two hours. She was taken out. The contractions came on, they took her to the labour room, and within seven minutes, she’d given birth.

Oh my god!

I was like, God, that’s going to happen to me! I thought, I don’t know if I can handle it. So that next night, still nothing. And I’m hearing another woman in labour screaming and I thought, Oh, she’s exaggerating isn’t she? [We both laugh]. I feel like such a bitch now. So then they induced me, first with the gel …

What is the gel?

It’s like a strip of fabric—gauze—with obviously this drug on it which is a gel and they just insert it inside you. And then they say be careful because it’s going to hang out, and of course I had to go to the loo didn’t I, and of course it just came out. I was like, What do you mean, be careful? How can I stop it from…? So I had to go back and they put another one in. And then a few minutes later I started to feel the contractions and I’m going, Mmm, ok. And then they got more and more painful and I started to say, Oh my god. My comfortable position was standing up leaning over [her husband]. I just couldn’t find anywhere that was comfortable. Then it started getting really painful and I started howling and going, Oh my god

I take it you asked for the epidural then?

No, at that stage I didn’t. But I kept saying to Emiliano, When do they give it? And then I said I feel like pushing, and they said, No, no, you don’t do that yet. But that’s what I felt like doing.


Yeah, I said, When this contraction happens I feel like I have to bear down. So they kept measuring and saying, No, you’re not dilated—I was like two centimetres, nothing. And then it got to one a.m. and I was three or four centimetres dilated and they said, Ok, we’re going to take you to the labour room, which is next to the delivery room, and I’m thinking, Ok, this is it now. There it was great actually, it was a private room and the [obstetricians] were good, they had a big inflatable ball, they had a beanbag which I lay over, they just kept encouraging me to change positions all the time. They said, It’s really important that you trust us and what we tell you to do, that when we tell you to change positions that it really helps you. I found the obstetricians there—which is another thing that’s different for us, for us it would be nurses—I found them all so lovely. At one stage I lost it, I started to cry because I was just exhausted and this obstetrician, she was going off duty and she said, I’m going to come back and see you tomorrow and meet your baby.


It was really lovely. And she came back!

So we got to the stage where I asked for the epidural. I said, I can’t handle this pain. So they said, We just have to call the anaesthetist because there’s only one on duty and he might not be available. And I said, You’ve got to be joking. And then I heard them say, Grazie! And they hung up the phone said, He’ll be here in five minutes. And that was … amazing. It didn’t hurt at all going in, I thought that would hurt, but there was this feeling of a cold liquid running down my back and then just pain free. It was amazing to see my tummy and the contractions and not feel anything. So then I said to [the anaesthetist], Oh, you’re the angel of the hospital [laughing]. But then the epidural made my contractions slow down.

Oh, wow!

So they gave me the drip to induce me with a pretty strong drug, I forget what it’s called…


That’s it. In the meantime, I’m texting a girlfriend of mine who’s a paediatrician in Australia …

You’re texting in the middle of your … ?! Oh that’s right, because you’d had an epidural.

And she’s like, For god sakes, tell them to give you the drip and give you a cesar! And it was funny because I had texted that my waters had broken when I was on the way to the hospital, so everyone was saying, Has it happened yet? And at one stage I just said, Enough! And you know good old Facebook. Well, a sister of my friend wrote on the wall, When’s the baby coming? And I thought, I don’t want people starting to write on the Facebook wall before…This was before the epidural. And I wrote, My waters have broken, I’m in the hospital. You know, in Australia, they woke up and still nothing! So it was Saturday morning 2 a.m. that I went to the hospital and this was Sunday night that they gave me the epidural and it lasted two and a half hours. Then they gave me another one, another two and a half hours. Then a third one and they said, We can’t give you another one after this, and I thought, What am I going to do? I spoke to a woman who had two babies, one induced, one not induced, and she said the induced was so much more painful. I don’t have a high tolerance for pain. I said, I can’t handle this. But I think at that point too I was just exhausted. And then they did another internal …

So what time are we at? Because, my goodness …

I think it was 9 o’clock Monday morning when they gave me the last epidural, which lasted till 11:30. So the surgeon came in to give me the internal and said—and at this stage too there was no more fluid—and he said, I’m sorry to break it to you signora but things aren’t progressing as much as we’d like, so we’re going to have to give you a cesar. And the obstetrician goes, No, no the signora’s very happy! And then of course the cesar was so quick and while I’m there they’re all discussing their melanzana alla parmigiana recipes while they’re operating on me.

That’s hilarious.

And the anaesthetist was gorgeous, he stayed up at my head and talked me through it all. He was really lovely. And then when they cut me open, they said he wouldn’t have come out naturally anyway because his head was all twisted. After all that! Now I know why so many women in the Middle Ages died at childbirth. So he was born at 1:05 p.m. on Monday afternoon on the 12th of September. I had such a trouble-free pregnancy, I assumed I’d have a really easy birth. I did not expect that at all. I remember my sister said, Be prepared they’re going to get you to stand up the next day. You might feel like you can’t … [we get interrupted by my kid].

Did you plan on breastfeeding?

Yes I did, and I had no milk. So that was another thing that surprised me. Oh and I was only there for three days, it used to be five. I was called up to the nursery at one point and they said he’s lost too much weight, we need to give him a bottle of formula.

What kind of support did you get for it?

They were really good. I had to go back in the day after I went home and I had a special room with a lactating assistant where they weighed him and said Yeah, he’s fine, and I had to stay there and attach him. And they said he was attached correctly. Yeah, they were lovely. They said You can come back here whenever you want. Even at the start after he was born and they brought him in to me, they would make sure he was attached properly. And he had no problem attaching at all, but I just did not have enough milk. So I was told to give him formula every three hours and then go back the next day. But what I found really conflicting is that when I went back the doctor said don’t give him any more formula, just keep him attached. And other people said that too, You have to attach him because that will encourage your milk flow. I remember my dad was here and one day he asked me, How you going? And I burst into tears and I said, [in a small voice] I’m fine. But I said, He’s not satisfied after he feeds, I can tell, he’s still hungry. And dad said, You just go with what you feel is best. So I did. I’d detach him and give him formula. So I was doing both.

So at the hospital, the breastfeeding experts were telling you…?

Well, one nurse was telling me to use the formula, but the doctor that was there when we weighed him told me not to anymore.

Was he part of the place where you go for breastfeeding support or did he just happen to be there?

Yeah, he was the doctor weighing the babies who had problems, who they sent home but had to come back the next day. He was that doctor on duty there. So that was the thing too, wanting to do the right thing but getting so much conflicting advice and thinking, Is it wrong? And it took a good two weeks for my milk to really come in. It took a while, longer than I expected. And it was much harder. I was expressing as well. I was so excited when I expressed 20 ml.

Oh I know, I remember!

I had no idea it was such hard work. I just assumed it was a natural thing.

Well, congratulations for making it through that!

And I think it’s hard when you’re in another country.

Speaking of that, did you ever feel particular challenges because you’re a foreigner?

I was impressed with the hospital care. It was better than I had anticipated. I have to say that. They were renovating it too, changing it from the nursery to rooming-in. So on my last night, they said, We need your bed (because it was in the new part, with the electric bed). So they moved me to the downstairs part with the old fashioned bed that to move the head up you had to get out and crank it. And I’d just had a cesar! And they didn’t even have one of those things to pull … So for the first two nights I was in heaven, loving my room, and I had a beautiful view looking out to beautiful cypress trees, and the last night was in this awful room. When Emiliano left for the night I said, Ok, can you just help me with the bed? Because you think so much about every movement … So I wasn’t very happy about that and I was actually happy to go home after that.

So if you were to have another child, would you go back to Torre Galli?

Yes, I would. I know now that they don’t have the nursery. And I know it will be a caesarean as well, but yeah, I would go back there.

About Author:

Michelle Tarnopolsky is a Toronto, Canada native who’s lived in Florence for over ten years. In addition to raising her son with her Florentine husband and working full-time, she blogs about navigating motherhood in Italy from a feminist perspective at Maple Leaf Mamma (www.mapleleafmamma.com).  Cross-posted at Made in Italy.

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Florence Birth Story #1: Kim and Ariel at the Centro Margherita

This is part of an on-going interview series that shares the experiences of expat moms who have given birth in Florence. The aim is not only to tell their stories but also to provide pregnant foreign moms with an informational resource on the different birthing options in Florence and what to expect, from natural home birth to fully medicalized hospital birth and everything in between. .

Kim is from Australia and has lived in Florence for six years. She first came here to visit a friend and met a yoga teacher with whom she wanted to continue studying. So she came back a year later, student visa in hand. It was during this second, longer stay that Kim met the future father of her child, and she’s been here (on and off) ever since.

When you got pregnant, did you take any prenatal classes?

Yeah, I did the one offered at Careggi, which I think is run by the Centro Margherita. And it was really good because it was a close-knit group of girls who stayed in contact even after the birth. So that was a really positive side of it. But it wasn’t really the kind of course I was looking for because it was mostly talking, which was nice, but I could have gotten that information from a book probably. It was good to meet other Italian mothers and have that bond, but I wanted a course I could do with my partner that would prepare us both.

Like with breathing…?

Yeah, and also just to begin spending some time [preparing together], because I was doing yoga every day, so it was easier for me to get ready for that moment—as much as you can. But I would have liked him to be more prepared. I think when we got to the actual birthing centre he was great but when we were [at home], without anyone else taking the lead, it was a bit more daunting for both of us. But once we got there and we had two midwives guiding the whole process, he really stepped up and I think felt more relaxed too. I was hoping that a course together might have given us both that confidence to feel ok at home as well.

Can you say for certain that all the yoga you did in preparation helped with the birth?

I think it did. Though I thought it would help more! But I don’t know if that’s an unrealistic expectation because in the end, I don’t know if there’s anything anyone or any course could have done to help with what made our birth long and difficult. He had a really short umbilical cord and he was just stuck. And because he couldn’t turn around he came out posterior [occiput posterior position].

I think the yoga helped the most with the first part of the labour, and relaxing into the dilation, and just letting that happen. Letting go and releasing, and trusting that your body knows how to do that, your body is made for the possibility of birthing a baby.

What made you choose to go to the Margherita?

I really, really wanted to have a natural birth. And I really liked the idea that Emilio could stay afterwards. And I wanted to try and have a water birth. Apart from Borgo San Lorenzo, I think it’s one of the only places where you can be sure. Because I know Ponte a Niccheri has a tub, but if that one’s taken…I didn’t think I was going to get into the Margherita because there’s the “checkpoint” [a strict evaluation to determine eligibility for admittance] and I was sure I wasn’t going to pass it. So I was starting to consider Borgo San Lorenzo. But I was thinking that’s so far and what if things happen fast, isn’t it better to be close… It just seemed like such a nice centre, and I really wanted to not have it medicalized as much as possible.

How was the experience overall?

Overall, good. Obviously things didn’t go perfectly but what birth does? It was hard and long, but in a way I wouldn’t change anything, because in the end we didn’t have to get any major medical intervention. I think the great thing about the midwives that I did have was they did really fight for my choices. I felt like they were really invested in the same outcome that I was. Even when it got to the point that things were going really long, I felt like they really wanted to see this baby be born as well. Obviously they have a lot of rules, as everyone knows. There are no gynecologists or obstetricians present so they need these rules for safety. If you need a doctor then you have to be transferred to Careggi. And they even said, Look, for our rules it’s going a bit long. But the one reason they said they could keep us was that Ariel never showed any signs of distress, throughout the whole process. They said, As soon as that happens, we’re going to have to send you across. But if his heartbeat stays strong you can stay here if that’s what you want. And that’s what I wanted.

So how long was it?

The first contraction started at six a.m. the day before my due date, but for the first six hours I was able to go ahead normally and walk the dog, have breakfast and then lunch etc. Then at about one p.m. things started to get serious, and the contractions were five minutes apart. At around two p.m. we went to the Margherita, but like a lot of first time mums by the time we got there things slowed down again, and they sent us home. As soon as we got back in the car the contractions were closer together again, but we went home anyway, and by six p.m. we were back in the car and this time they admitted me as things kept progressing. He was born at two-fifty in the morning.

Oh, that’s not so long.

Yeah, but the pushing went on for a long time. I was fully dilated by about a quarter to twelve. I remember looking at the clock, strangely enough, I don’t know why. We were in the tub and they said, Ok, everything’s going well, you’re fully dilated, you can start pushing. And they said he was fine and he could be born in water, that there was no problem. So I started pushing at quarter to twelve and he was born at ten to three so…it was the pushing that went on too long. After half an hour pushing in the water they told me to get out. They said, It’s not that anything’s wrong but maybe you need the help of gravity, maybe the water’s just not helping you in this case. In terms of safety everything was fine for the water but they said, Maybe things will go a bit quicker if you get on land at this point. And so we got on land and we tried every position [laughing]. Half an hour of this, half an hour of that—everything known to them and that I’ve ever read about, one after the other, and we just weren’t getting anywhere. So it started to get pretty hard. And my water still hadn’t broken so they said, We’re really sorry but we’re going to have to break your waters because maybe they’re getting in the way of him coming out. So they broke the waters in the end, to get him out.

You started pushing before your water broke?

Yeah, but they said this can happen…

[We get interrupted by our kids.]

[Several minutes later] So we were talking about the birth, and we were getting towards the end…

Yeah, so it was going long, but luckily he didn’t show any distress. They told me at the first sign of baby distress, we can’t keep trying this natural birth. But I think they did sort of whisper to Emilio that if I went over to Careggi that they would intervene pretty heavily, because I was starting to lose energy and the contractions were getting weaker. He was pretty stuck. So after we tried every single position that they could think of they said alright, we can try one last thing or we can go to Careggi. They said we could try this really old-fashioned gynecological position where you lay down on your back, which is really the worst position, as we all know, and they could try to push him out by pushing down on my belly. They said it was this or Careggi. At this point they could even see his head and they were saying, Come on, one last push, we can even see that he’s got black hair! So I couldn’t even imagine being transferred when he was right there. And part of me also knew that once we were there we would be intervened with medically pretty heavily…so I said, Yeah, I want to try it. So they laid me down on the gynecological bed and two midwives pushed and one was there waiting. A few pushes like that—and it was terrible—and he was half out and then they said, Ok, after this push we’re going to have to send you if he doesn’t come out, or we’re going to have to cut. And I was like, Ok! I just wanted him to come out. And I think the last thing I said to Emilio was, We’re not going to Careggi! I was going to give it this one last shot. At this point, we’d come so far, and he was still ok. So they cut and he came out in one go. I actually thought it was only the head and that we still had to do the shoulders. So I was getting ready for another push when they put him on my belly! And I have to say that one moment when they plopped him on top of me, that was worth all the craziness before.

Did you face any challenges at any point as a foreigner?

No, I honestly don’t think so. And that’s what I was really scared of, because I thought I would. The two midwives I had there were amazing. I did know someone I talked to afterward who had trained there as well as in other hospitals. And she told me that it’s a great place, but that in her mind Ponte a Niccheri was a better option. The risk at the Margherita is that, because there are so many rules, if there’s any baby distress [for example], the mother has to change environments halfway through the birth. And you’ve got to think about what that would be like for you. That’s the risk you run, that you’ll be transferred over to Careggi. Whereas at Ponte a Niccheri, you might not be guaranteed that the tub will be free to have a water birth, but you know you’re staying in the same environment. Anyway, she knew the two ostetriche that had been had my birth and she said, I think you’re really lucky you didn’t get transferred and that’s probably because of them, they’re two of the best and the nicest and they probably fought really hard for you. It’s hard because Ponte a Niccheri is great for promoting breastfeeding and natural birth…but I had this really strong feeling all along that I wanted to go to the Margherita, I don’t know why. I had this strong feeling that he would be born there, and somehow we managed to pull it off. But when they started saying, We’re going to have to send you over there, I was like, Oh god! Because Emilio had said to me, Think about that, because it can happen; you really have to think about it. We were so lucky.

Would you try to do it there again?

I don’t know! I think I would. I don’t know though…

What do you wish you’d known beforehand?

I suppose one thing is that I read a lot of the natural childbirth literature, and one thing that shocked me—though I guess it was the type of birth, because he was stuck—but [the literature] really uses different words, it’s all about opening… And it got to a certain point when what [the midwives] said got quite strong and it was the opposite of what I thought. They were saying I had to get really angry: You’re not pushing hard enough, stop being so soft and gentle about it. Get really incazzata! And I was like, Ok! But it was kind of against everything I had preconceived in my mind, and maybe that’s why I struggled. It ended up being quite strong. It was hilarious because they would say, You can do better! And I was like, I don’t think I can! Yeah, they got quite nasty, in a good way. They really pushed me. And I didn’t ever imagine it could go like that. I thought it was going to be all soft and gentle. They told me that I had to get angry and I was like, Wow. I never prepared myself for that kind of scenario.

I suppose the main thing I would do differently next time is try to claim more space to go with my own instincts more…But I started to feel the momentum of the threat to be moved to Careggi and I started going too much with their directions to push, rather than seeing that as a cue to dig deep inside myself and find the connection in my own body to push. So I suppose, as great as I thought my midwives were and the Margherita in general is, it’s the whole “threat” of being moved that also makes it a possible negative to the birth. You do take that pressure in there with you, and you can get lost in the heat of the moment. It was probably time for me to get serious about pushing, but that impetus had to come from me rather than from outside of me. I still can’t figure out whether I had such a hard time pushing him out because of his posterior position or because I wasn’t pushing in the right way. The midwife did say when he was born, Ecco perché, referring to his really short cord.

I also question if it was possible to know that Ariel had a short umbilical cord before the birth so we could prepare for that. I have since read up a bit on posterior position births and there seems to be some advice for exercises etc. on how to help the baby turn before the birth, but maybe his cord was too short to allow this. Who knows. But we do so many ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy, so I wonder if that is detectable. Anyway, maybe it’s better we didn’t know all this as it’s possible I would never have been “allowed” by the medical professionals to birth him naturally! And in the end he came through the labour healthy and with no signs of distress, and scored a ten on the APGAR test they do, so obviously babies can come out it in all positions, not just the most common one, and do just fine.

What about after the birth, did you consult with anyone?

Yeah, I had to go back to them, because I had stitches. And I had problems actually—they didn’t heal well. That’s a whole other story. It was a bit tough. That’s one reason I don’t know if I’d be able to go back to the Margherita. I almost had to have the stitching re-done and they wanted to put me in Careggi two weeks after the birth and put me under anesthetic, but I had fought so hard to have him naturally… So I chose the long painful option in which it just heals itself.

Did you get or need any support for breastfeeding?

Yeah, actually it hurt a lot in the beginning. And I got some advice from the midwives who were there at the birth when I ran into them when we went back. But I would have liked more. I know in Australia you have a maternal nurse assigned to you till the child is five years old. They come out to your house to check on you. So if you have questions about anything…Because we struggled in the beginning. For the first month, it was painful but I kept up with it and eventually it just stopped being painful. I wondered if his latch was right, and things like that. So a little more support would have been good. And maybe I would have had less issues with the stitches if there was someone coming out instead of having to go there myself in the August heat… I never knew there was anything really wrong with the stitches until it was too late. I just thought it was normal to be sore.

About Author:

Michelle Tarnopolsky is a Toronto, Canada native who’s lived in Florence for over ten years. In addition to raising her son with her Florentine husband and working full-time, she blogs about navigating motherhood in Italy from a feminist perspective at Maple Leaf Mamma (www.mapleleafmamma.com).  Cross-posted at Made in Italy.

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