Obstetrician Doctors Here and Weight Gain


So why is it that the Obstetrician doctors here have big issues with weight gain during pregnancy for expat moms?  I am not talking weight gain above the standards of other countries. Here you can find an example of what doctors follow in the US for standards of weight gain during pregnancy. click here  In Firenze, I am finding many expat mothers (myself included) built with a broad structure, because of our genetics, are being treated on a weight scale as some small Italian women.  I am not trying to be stereotypical or racist, but genetics in different cultures do create different size women.  The standards for them are going to be different then an average Italian woman.  I see it already in the cloth sizes, where I have to get many of my clothes from the UK because the sizes here are disproportionately small and short.

I had a healthy pregnancy with my first child. I gained a good amount of weight (40 lbs. (20kg) by the end of my pregnancy) most water and baby (my boy was 10.4lbs (5kgs)) when born. This was 2 weeks after due date.  A very big baby but not because I was gaining weight. My sugar levels were fine with my first and no problems at all during pregnancy.  Now my second, conceived and born here also was a big baby (9.5lbs (4.9kg)). The first doctor I went to in the public system was going off about my weight gain at the end of first trimester.  I was starting my second trimester and I was showing quickly already.  I knew I was doing the same as my first child. I knew that I felt good and my blood work was normal as well.  Therefore, I switched doctors to a private doctor that took into consideration and looked at my levels of weight etc. from my first pregnancy.  As long as I stayed like my first pregnancy and blood work and tests came back normal; then all was OK.  In fact, I delivered a healthy baby without problems.  It was another C-section but that was because my first was born by C-section.  I was not allowed to go natural again after one C-section.

Anyway, did any of you have issues with doctors and weight in pregnancy here?


Picking an elementary school in and around Florence

schoolWritten by Sarah McLean (January 2016)

It’s that time of year again, and as a mother with one child in elementary school, one about to enter elementary school, and a younger child, I have had several people ask me for advice as to where to send their children to elementary school. I am by no means an expert, but I here are some thoughts based on my experience and of others that I have spoken to that I hope might be helpful.

What not to expect in an Italian school 

First, you may need to adjust your cultural expectations.

– It’s hard and emotional to decide: Picking a school can be difficult for everyone, but may be especially hard for those of us who went to school in another country and may have different aspirations for our children based on our experience and plans for the future.
– Data: There is public data about how schools in Florence (and elsewhere in Italy) differ with respect to test scores, demographics, and other measures, but it isn’t as prominently displayed as it is in some other countries—all schools, particularly elementary schools, are theoretically equal. Of course, that does not mean that they are the same. The best source I have found is this website (in Italian only) http://cercalatuascuola.istruzione.it/cercalatuascuola/ which does give information on standardised test results, some indications of the school’s social and economic context, and many other interesting facts for both public and many private schools.
– Focus on academic learning: If you want your child to practice a sport, learn an instrument (other than the recorder), or do many other things, expect to do it on your own time (and with your own budget). While students have a weekly hour (or more) of gym, art, music, etc. the focus is “reading, writing, and arithmetic”.
– Infrastructure: given that many buildings are old, and many have been built with another purpose in mind, many schools do not have much in the way of outdoor space, gyms, disability access, etc. They also generally do not have playground equipment in elementary school—I suspect for insurance/risk reasons.
– Different attitudes: To broadly generalize, Italian parents may have different expectations and perceptions of school than the average expat. A few differences include the perception of public versus private schools (private schools are sometimes seen to be where children who cannot succeed in the public system go to school rather than higher quality schools), the importance of children not being stressed, and the need for snacks/a hot lunch. Elementary school teachers tend to focus their attention on whether children learn the required material and are happy, but may not be particularly interested in helping each child realise his or her full potential if they exceed the curricular requirements.

What to expect

– Elementary school is 5 years—children theoretically will have the same teacher and classmates for all of those years.
– School days are Monday to Friday inclusive, with normal hours from approximately 8:30 to 4:30 (40 hours a week). There may be before and after school care options to accommodate working parents (often at a cost). There is also a 28 hour program (tempo corto) offered at some schools.
– There may not be a school bus, and children are not released from school without an authorised person (parent, other relative, babysitter, etc.) picking them up.
– A hot, three course lunch is provided to children, which you are billed for on a sliding scale depending on your family income (ISEE). The food is often good, and (in public schools) a classroom parent is designated cafeteria inspector who eats a couple of times a year at the cafeteria and reports back on the quality of food, ambiance, and cleanliness.
– Children have a snack time (around 10:30) and often bring a snack from home
– Children usually wear a blue school smock (public and some private schools) or a uniform to school—these are available for purchase in many children’s clothing/grocery/cartoleria stores in late August and early September and are almost impossible to find outside of that period.
– You will have to buy notebooks and other school supplies at the beginning of the year—you may have to arrange to order and pick up textbooks at a local bookstore (but they are usually paid for by the city of Florence).
– Children may be required to leave a pair of athletic shoes at school for gym class.
– Children with special needs attend the same school classes and may have a teaching assistant (insegnante di sostegno) assigned to help them in the classroom. Similarly, there are no special classes for children who do not speak Italian, and they often do not have the support of an additional teacher. There are no gifted/talented programs in Florence or I believe elsewhere in Italy.
– Class sizes vary from about 15-27 children per teacher. There is usually only one teacher present at a time in the classroom.
– Children’s work is graded on a scale of 1-10, with many children receiving 10s for their work. The passing grade is 6.
– Children typically receive 2 report cards per year with numeric grades in each subject, a general evaluation of their behaviour, and some comments
– Religion (Roman Catholicism) is a school subject at all schools, but parents can chose not to have their children attend the religion class (avvelarsi dell’ora alternativa) or possibly come late/leave early when the subject is offered.
– Relationships between the teacher/school administration and the parents are mediated by a class representative (a parent elected at the first parent meeting of the year) who attends additional meetings at the school, disseminates information to the parents, is the first line of parent complaint/concern, and often collects money for end of year teacher gifts, organises the email list/Whatsapp group/etc.
– Public school teachers and staff may strike—you will receive notice of the strike in advance, but may not necessarily know if your child’s teacher will be at school or whether your child will have school or not that day until the day itself.

Public or private?

Obviously the clear difference between the two types of school is that you are paying for private school. In addition to cost, here are a few things to consider:

– School hours and flexibility—public schools are often inflexible about their hours (your child must be dropped off/picked up at a specific time) and they may strike (I counted 14 strikes of at least some school personnel in my son’s school last school year—he was directly affected by only a few of those, and there have been fewer strikes so far this school year, but school strikes can be a real problem for those who work and do not have backup child care).
– Convenience: where is the school located? Is there a school bus? Some private schools also offer extracurricular activities at the school so you don’t have to take your child to after school lessons.
– Peer group: where are your child’s current classmates going? Are the children at the private school you are considering likely to remain in Italy as long as your child is?
– Your child’s needs: would your child benefit from something only a private school would offer? This might (but not necessarily mean) smaller classes, or specialised instruction.
– Could your child easily transfer into public school (or another private school) if necessary? This might be difficult if your child is attending an international or alternative school.
– How likely is the staff to remain consistent (for better or worse) when your child is there? In some private schools, teachers are not given indefinite contracts, or are working at a private school while also waiting to be called for permanent jobs in the public education system. Some public schools have a higher fraction of teachers “di ruolo” (in a permanent position, and therefore likely to stay there) than others. Of course, your child’s teacher can unexpectedly go on leave in any of these situations, but this is less likely if they are in a permanent job.
– Who will be your child’s main teacher(s)? You may not know this in advance, but it is one of the most important factors in your child’s school experience.
– How is the school doing financially? Some private schools have suffered with the crisis—enrolments are down, and there may be a question as to whether they will remain open/offer what they say they will offer to your child.
– Is there a wait list? Some private schools have long wait lists, but differ in whether they require a registration fee to join the list. It may make sense to sign up for a school early if you are considering it or risk not finding space.

English education

English is a mandatory school subject from first grade onward. Many Italian children take after school English lessons, and an increasing number of private schools offer English programs. Of course, these lessons vary a great deal in quality, and are designed for Italian children to learn English as an additional language. Here are some things to think about:

– Who will be teaching English? Most of the teachers officially certified to teach English in the Italian primary school system have only a basic grasp of the language. Some are fantastic teachers and are willing to learn from your child, others feel threatened by the presence of native speaking children in his/her class. Some native English speaking teachers are excellent, others may not have a teaching background, experience, or be a poor fit for your child.
– Who else will be leading the English class? Even in the public system, it is common to find English mother tongue volunteers (often American university students) who will come to at least some English classes. You might also be able to help.
– What is the language background of the other students? Even if the teacher learned English as a mother tongue, if most of the class has had limited exposure to English, the class level won’t be well suited to a native English speaker.
– Will your child be expected to do the class English activities? Likely yes, although the teacher may allow your child to do extra/alternative work in class (or recruit your child to be an assistant teacher).
– Is there separate English instruction available for bilingual/English speaking children? This is unlikely to be the case in public and many private schools.

Long or short time?

Several public schools offer a shorter school program where children attend two full days of school, and three half-days (often with the option of remaining at school for lunch during those half days and exiting after 2 pm). This can be an attractive option for those who do not need the additional hours of child care. Some of the consequences of the shorter time program include:

– More homework—children in full-time elementary school often only have homework on weekends; short time children will likely have homework on their short days of school. This may be good training for middle school homework expectations, but will likely require some additional time from parents/grandparents/others to supervise/enforce.
– More time for other things: despite the additional homework, children in short time do have more time to play outside of school and participate in extracurricular activities.
– Faster pace at school—Since the same material is covered in 12 fewer hours, the teacher has less time to review and answer questions in class.
– Usually one primary teacher, not two—Most subjects are taught by one teacher, with additional teachers covering some hours (typically English, art, science, etc.). This means that only one teacher spends a significant amount of time with your child, and the subjects that teacher does not teach may be less integrated into the program (and you may not have as clear a sense as to what your child does during that time).

Which school is right for your family?

– Schools hold “open days” (open house sessions usually in the evenings) often in January where you can tour the school and meet the administrators and some teachers. This may be the only chance you have to see the school facilities
– Many schools (including public schools) have websites where a variety of information is available—including textbooks, class lists, general information about the school.
– Some questions to ask (at the open day or elsewhere):
– Who would my child’s teachers be? Can we meet them before enrolling? Are they “di ruolo”?
– Class composition: how many children, from which areas of the city, speaking which languages at home (for those interested in bilingual education), coming from which schools?
– Where will my child’s classroom be? Where will gym/lunch/recess/other activities take place?

How to register

– Public school registration is available online from January 22 to February 22 at istruzione.it There is no advantage in registering relatively early—spaces are allocated on the basis of a points system (residency, work locations, siblings, etc. are some of the factors) after registration closes. You can select up to 2 schools.
– Private school registrations vary by school.

Good luck!

Straight Facts About Braces

dentist free monthWhy is orthodontics important?

Without treatment, orthodontic problem may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction and trouble with chewing and digestion. A “bad bite” can be a factor in tooth loss and chipped teeth. Orthodontics can have psychological benefits too – boosting a person’s self-image as the teeth, jaws and lips become properly aligned.

When should a child first see an orthodontist?

Although there is not a universal best age to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child see an orthodontist at an early age. This could be as young as 3 or 4, but should be no later than 7.

Early examination enables the orthodontist to detect and evaluate problems and determine the appropriate time to treat them. After the initial evaluation, the orthodontist may simply recommend periodic checkups. The proper age to treat malocclusion varies with the type and severity of the problem.

Is it ever too late for a person to get braces?
Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. An orthodontist can improve the smile of practically anyone – in fact, orthodontists regularly treat patients in their 50s, 60s and older!

What can happen if orthodontic problems go untreated?
Untreated orthodontic problems may contribute to tooth decay, diseased gums, temporomandibular joint problems and loss of teeth. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping and other forms of dental injury. Sometimes, the increased cost of dental care resulting from untreated malocclusion (bad bite) far exceeds the cost of orthodontic care. In addition, if left untreated, malocclusion may result in harmful effects on the oral health and psychological well-being of the patient.

What makes an orthodontist different from a dentist?
Orthodontists are the dental specialists in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities: they are expert at moving teeth, helping jaws develop properly and working with the patient to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions. They are uniquely qualified to correct “bad bites”. The American Dental Association requires orthodontists to have at least two years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in orthodontics in an accredited program, after graduation from dental school.

Read her other post: The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up

October is the Month of Dental Prevention. The American Association of Orthodontists has chosen October as Orthodontic Health Month. It provides the opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of orthodontics, the importance of early orthodontic screening no later than age seven, the lifetime value of orthodontics and orthodontists’ special educational qualifications.

Book now your free orthodontic visit

Dr. Daniela Signorelli offers free orthodontic check-up visits and diagnostic record study (xrays, models, photos). The value of an orthodontic diagnostic study is € 200.

October last versionShe practices in:

Florence, via Berchet 1 (near piazza della Libertà) tel.: 055-58.94.53

Prato, Via del Cittadino 87 (near the modern art museum Pecci) tel.:0574-57.55.01

Campi Bisenzio, via B. Buozzi 70. Tel.: 055-89.09.92

*** The material is provided by the American Association of Orthodontists. If anyone is interested in having more information, there is  AAO’s  website : www.braces.org

The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up

The Right Time For An Orthodontic Check-Up: No Later Than Age 7

Even though most people think of pre-teens and teens when they speak about orthodontics, there are good reasons your child should get an orthodontic evaluation much sooner. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7.

Why Your Child Should Get An Orthodontic Check-Up No Later Than Age 7:
1. Orthodontists can spot problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.
2. The check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Often, the orthodontist will identify a potential problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the right time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
3. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
4. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that wouldn’t be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
5. Some of the more readily apparent conditions that indicate the need for early examination include:

• Early or late loss of teeth
• Difficulty in chewing or biting
• Mouth breathing
• Thumb sucking
• Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
• Jaws that shift or make sounds
• Speech difficulties
• Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
• Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
• Facial imbalance
• Jaws that are too far forward or back
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

6. Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:

• Guide jaw growth
• Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
• Correct harmful oral habits (thumb sucking)
• Improve appearance
• Guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position
• Improve the way lips meet

7. Through early orthodontic screening, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile that’s good for life. No child should wait until reaching the teens to feel good about his or her smile.

October is the Month of Dental Prevention. The American Association of Orthodontists has chosen October as Orthodontic Health Month. It provides the opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of orthodontics, the importance of early orthodontic screening no later than age seven, the lifetime value of orthodontics and orthodontists’ special educational qualifications.
Dr. Daniela Signorelli offers free orthodontic check-up visits and diagnostic record study (xrays, models, photos). The value of an orthodontic diagnostic study is € 200.

Daniela Signorelli definitivo 02 12 2013

She practices in:

Florence, via Berchet 1 (near piazza della Libertà) tel.: 055-58.94.53

Prato, Via del Cittadino 87 (near the modern art museum Pecci) tel.:0574-57.55.01

Campi Bisenzio, via B. Buozzi 70. Tel.: 055-89.09.92

 The material is provided by the American Association of Orthodontists. If anyone is interested in having more information, there is  AAO’s  website : www.braces.org

Plan B: Love Stories Gone Wrong Amy Sarno

Hi Everyone:

I’m spending my sabbatical in Florence to write a play about the experience of expat American women living in Italy who find themselves facing intimate partner violence.

The project, “Plan B: Love Stories Gone Wrong” examines the lived experience of American expat women who have survived domestic violence. While many of the women who have left abusive relationships in Italy have returned to the United States; some have chosen to stay in order to keep custody of their children. I am interested in interviewing survivors who remain in Italy.

Another part of the story has to do with the individuals who help women facing violence to move ahead with their lives. I am also wanting to speak with service providers, counselors, physicians, midwives, advocates, attorneys, and embassy officials who work with women who have struggled with violent relationships in Italy. The interviews will be edited to create a performance piece intended to raise awareness about a side of domestic violence most people never consider: the expat experience. The goal of this play is to create a simple play that can tour to raise international awareness for the challenges expat women face when they find themselves in violent relationships.

I do use informed consent so your privacy is protected. I am hoping to have interviews completed by November 1, so please drop me a line at sarnofra@beloit.edu.

Amy Sarno
Associate Professor of Theatre
Chair of the Quisenberry/Wirtz Endowed Fund for Theatre and Social Change
Beloit College, Beloit, WI 53511

Women Supporting Women

WSWposter2013_eng_WEBEvery three days a woman is killed in Italy as a result of domestic violence.  Last year Artemesia – the women and children’s crisis center – helped approximately 1000 women rebuild their lives.  By the end of August Artemisia had already helped approximately 800 women this year.  As public awareness has risen with respect to domestic violence, and women are coming to realize that there is a way out, the need for a safe place to receive assistance is increasing. 

On October 10th please come and support the work that Artemesia does with women who dare to dream of a better life.  Join us for an AILO evening of Art Against Domestic Violence.  For the details please see the attached flyer. WSWposter2013_eng_PRINT

You can also show your support by sharing this email with your friends and posting the flyer on your Facebook page. 

Together We Can Make A Difference.

Moving back home after living in Italy for years?

movingI know some of you are thinking about moving back to your home country or have already decided.  I found this great blog that talks all about it.  It is not an easy transition to move back, especially if you have lived for many years abroad.  So before you take that actual move read through this blog and get an idea of some challenges you might experience when you do.


Mom’s you should know for Traveling outside Italy


Mom’s you should know for Traveling outside Italy  If you did not know read this before you travel:

The EU changed rules about a year ago and you are not allowed to travel with your children on the passports anymore.

Make sure that any children travelling with you either have their own passport or ID card or are registered on your passport. However, from 26 June 2012, children will need to have their own passport or ID card to travel (even if they are still mentioned in their parent’s passport, which remains valid).  from: europa.eu- Documents you will need

You must have a passport for the children and/or carta’d’identita if you are resident in Italy.  If you are EU national then you can use the E.U. national ID’s.  If you are traveling from here to the US and back they will definitely stop and question you say in Germany,  if you only have US passports for your children.  So your best is to get the carta’d’identita for your child as well if you are a resident here and if your children are dual an Italian Passport as well.  On the identity card they put both parents name on it.

More Related Articles:

Documents you need-Non-EU family members

Documents you need-EU nationals

Looking for a way to have fun and improve your English this summer??

summer camp
summer camp
Looking for a way to have fun and improve your English this summer??
Come to Summer Experience – the original English summer camp in Bagno a Ripoli. Spend the day in the hills outside Florence playing, creating, socializing, being IN ENGLISH. Staffed entirely by native English speakers who have many years working with kids and teens in Italy and around the world – our camp is ideal for Italian youth who only have scholastic English, bilingual youth and English speakers.
Open to ages 6-14. Camp runs in weekly sessions from June 10 to July 5
Younger kids bonus week: For kids ages 4-8 we’ll be running a special week at an alternative location from July 8-12.
Bilingual week: Sept. 2-6 we’ll be running a bilingual English/Italian camp for kids ages 4-10. The theme for this week is The Four Elements: Water, Earth, Air, Fire.
For information and enrollment, contact Jonnel at ingleseforyou@yahoo.com or 333.428.7409

Lets talk about your struggles being an expatiate in Italy

group discussionLets talk about your struggles being an expatiate in Italy

Group Session Series by Paolo Molino, Psychotherapist

Next Session: Wednesday, April 24th,   10-12

Dott.Paolo Molino
Via Antonio Scialoja 68
50136 Firenze
web: www.paolomolino.com

Top 5 food stops in Florence

Top 5 food stops in Florence

How does a foodie view a trip to a new city? He or she will create an itinerary where before or after the museum, around the corner from his or her hotel, near every single mandatory stop there will be a chance to run off and take a bite of the city! So here are 5 food stops you can’t miss in Florence! You will need at least one day to get to them all! The order has been split up from morning (snack- lunch-snack-dinner-after dinner) to late at night.

via Top 5 food stops in Florence – Tuscan Recipes Food and Tradition – Tuscanycious.