Having a Baby: Choosing the right hospital
When you become pregnant, you’ll have to register where you’ll be having your child at around fourteen weeks of pregnancy.
With the help of two knowledgeable doulas, we give an overview of what to expect from Prague’s most popular maternity hospitals among ex-pats.
The Institute for the Care of Mother and Child (ÚPMD) or Podolí maternity hospital is the biggest of all the maternity hospitals in Prague and offers a lot of privacy and comfort to new and returning mothers. Women have single rooms for their delivery and are allowed two visitors at a time, so your partner and your doula can be by your side at all times.
However, there are some drawbacks. This hospital has the highest rate of C-sections, so if you want to have a natural birth, this might not be the place to register. They also offer very little when it comes to privacy during the postpartum period, where most mothers are expected to stay in the hospital for 72 hours after labor. Their staff usually doesn’t speak that much English, but they do accept doulas, so you can have one there to translate.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Apolinář hospital is its age. In fact, many expats call it “The Harry Potter Hospital” because of it’s architecture. Built in 1875, it is one of the oldest operating hospitals in the world. It focuses on high-risk and pathological pregnancies, including women with diabetes and heart problems. So if that’s a concern of yours, this is a good place to register. Most of the doctors and staff also speak English.
One thing that the hospital doesn’t specialize in is privacy. Unless you pay more for a private room, which are limited and not guaranteed since delivery is unpredictable, the birthing rooms are separated by dividers so you can often hear and sometimes see other women giving birth. Women also must share bathrooms and shower facilities, and you only get one support person. So if your partner and your doula is present, they have to switch off being with you during the delivery.
Located in Krč in southern Prague, this hospital specializes in care for premature births, typically delivered between 30 and 36 weeks. In one year, they perform 3,000 gynecological surgical procedures and deliver 2,000 babies, with more than 40 percent resorting to surgery. They also hold the title for the most baby-friendly hospital, awarded by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
While they are better with privacy than Apolinář, they also only allow for one support person during the delivery and have shared bathrooms and showers. So be ready to mingle with your newborn.
Bulovka’s reputation as a birth centre has dramatically increased over the past few years as they’ve upgraded the care offered there.
Bulovka is a great place to register for a more individualized experience. Their birthing center, which is part of their hospital, focuses on low-risk pregnancies. You’re allowed two support people and you also have the option to have your own midwife, whom you can meet in advance and have present during the entire labor. In February, they will also be opening family apartments in their birthing center for the postpartum period.
Although it didn’t appear on our doula’s list, Motol is a popular option with ex-pats. Not only is the teaching hospital the largest medical facility in the Czech Republic, it’s also known for its English-speaking staff. Motol is also the only comprehensive care centre for newborns with congenital defects in the Czech Republic.
Hosting around 3500 births annually, you’re pretty likely to get a private room here. But, as a teaching hospital for two different university programs, you may be dealing with staff that have medical students in tow.