Courtesy of Caroline Chirichella

  • I’m an American living in Italy and gave birth to my first child here.

  • My C-section went smoothly, and I didn’t have to pay for it, not even my four-day hospital stay.

  • I received a payment from the government every month to help pay for my daughter’s needs.

I’m an American citizen originally from New York City who’s living in Italy with dual citizenship. The idea of giving birth in a different country was initially quite terrifying since I was not sure what to expect. I was nervous about not being understood and being taken care of as an “outsider” since I was not fluent in Italian at the time.

The hospital I gave birth in was immaculate, the staff was spectacular, and my C-section went as smoothly as possible for a first-time mom. It truthfully was the best birthing experience I could have hoped for and exceeded my expectations.

Giving birth in Italy costs nothing. And after your delivery, you’re required to stay in the hospital for at least four days, all at no cost to you. There is no cost whether you give birth vaginally or via C-section, as I did.

Many things make the Italian culture and living experience unique, including that people are not in a rush. That was all clear during the birthing process.

I felt taken care of throughout the whole process

I felt important, and I felt seen and heard. When I had difficulty communicating, everyone made sure to help as much as they could. It was as though all the doctors, nurses, and even the cleaning staff were aware of the importance of this life-changing moment for me. To them, I was not just another woman giving birth.

My anesthesiologist was sweet and comforting. The head of the maternity wing, who was in the operating room, was so kind. As I was administered my anesthesia and felt uncomfortable, he crouched down in front of me to talk and keep me distracted. When I felt nauseous from the anesthesia, one of the nurses put a wet cloth on my forehead and gently patted my head.

My gynecologist, who had been with me for the entire journey, performed my C-section. I didn’t feel a thing during the surgery, and he made sure I was comfortable and relaxed.

During my four-day stay in the hospital, I felt so taken care of. On my daily check-ins with the nurses, they were so kind and reassuring. I had a moment where I broke down crying because I couldn’t sit up straight to breastfeed my daughter, and the nurse not only helped me but also comforted me.

I get money every month from the government to help me cover my daughter’s expenses

Giving birth in Italy is free, but it doesn’t stop there. The country also wants to help you take care of your child. Thanks to the universal child benefit, parents receive 80 euros to 160 euros a month for their child. If you have more than one child, you are eligible to receive more money. The benefit lasts until a child turns 18. In cases where children have disabilities, parents are eligible to receive money for life. While the exact rules and regulations of the child benefit change every year, the principle remains the same.

In Italy, family comes first. That’s evident in the way this country treats pregnant women and the birthing process.

The US needs to give the same respect Italy does to the intimate birthing process. Giving birth should be one of the most wonderful days of a woman’s life, and anything that can be done to make that experience better needs to be done.

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