Once we hit 7 weeks pregnant, our first step was to figure out what kind of health care we wanted for our baby and during our pregnancy. We knew that we wanted to do our first ultrasound and appointment at 8 weeks pregnant so we wanted to take the time to research and discuss our options. This was a personal decision for every couple or parent to be to make and is something we took some time to think about and discuss amongst ourselves.
Understanding our unique circumstance
Before we discuss what we decided to do for our prenatal care and overall medical care during our pregnancy, we wanted to firstly highlight the unique and somewhat unusual circumstance we were in. Unlike other parents to be, we have been living overseas in different countries for the past 6-7 years.
In saying that, our situation was a little complicated and different from a normal pregnancy or what a normal couple would consider given that we are moving about and traveling most of the year. We were currently living in Cuenca, Ecuador at the time but had plan to move to Taiwan during the second trimester and have the baby there.
During December 2015, when we made the decision to start trying to have a baby, we knew that we would remain in Ecuador until the end of March 2016 and make our way back closer to friends and family in Australia. Although we made the decision not to live and give birth in Australia, we chose to live in Taiwan as we had previously lived there before and loved it but also so that we could fly to Australia for regular visits at a much lower cost.
In consideration of our unique circumstance, we looked at options for the pregnancy that would fit our situation but still maintain a high level of care for our unborn child.
Private or Public health care
As a result, we decided to pay for all our health care services out of pocket. This was because we were on a tourist visa while in Ecuador and did not qualify for the local health insurance or public health system.
In most cases, getting private health insurance to cover most of the out of pocket medical expenses incurred while in Ecuador would of been ideal. However, while doing research we found that there was a lot of red tape and restrictions to even qualify for private insurance.
Many private insurance companies require you not to be pregnant for a given period (approximately 1 year) prior or to pay a monthly fee or even a lump sum fee upfront. When looking at our options, we found that paying for our medical services upfront in Ecuador was much cheaper and less of a hassle. For example, visiting the doctor and getting an ultrasound would cost us $13USD compared to paying hundreds of dollars per month for health insurance cover. We also knew that since we were not planning to give birth in Ecuador, that the insurance would most likely be invalid when we chose to leave and get medical care elsewhere.
If you live in countries like Australia, the UK or even Taiwan, the public health system can be relatively good in terms of the financial cost and the level of care received. This all depends on your residency status and whether or not you are entitled for the public health system. Our personal choice to remain overseas and not move back to Australia was a decision we made years ago before even trying to have a baby. We preferred to live where we wanted and were happy to pay out of pocket for medical health care for our baby.
Our suggestion would be to review all your options and really look between the lines of the terms and conditions. You’ll find that although the public health system can be a free and easy option, it can have long waiting times for services, it may not fit your circumstance (for example if you are have twins or triplets), the selection of medical professionals and where you can get services for free may be limited and the service and care may be under par. On the other end, private health insurance and paying out of pocket might be a great option if you prefer to choose the health care you’ll receive or if you are like us, and are stuck in between systems that don’t necessarily fit your circumstance. Weigh in what matters to you most and what works best for your own unique circumstance.
OBGYN or GP
An OBGYN stands for an obstetrician or gynecologist, which a medical professional that is specialized and trained in all things related to the pregnancy, labor, and after birth care (pueperium periods).
This is compared to a GP which stands for a general practitioner. A GP treats patients with all kinds of illnesses, needs and diseases. They have a general understanding of pregnancy and can guide you through the process but have a much broader range of knowledge in medicine.
Side note- I know you can also go through the midwife system however, for us, this wasn’t an option as we also had the added barrier of not being fluent Spanish speakers. So finding a midwife would be very difficult.
When deciding whether or not to go with an OBGYN or a GP, we considered the pros and cons of each as well as the general health systems of the chosen country we were living in.
For example, in Australia it is mandatory to visit your local GP for a referral (even if you select a more private route) and ultimately this means you will go back and forth between services and professionals.
After much research, we decided to go with a OBGYN instead of a general practitioner. There were several reasons for this. The first was that we found because the OBGYN would be a specialist in pregnancy and the female body, we would receive a better quality of care than if we were to go to a GP. In addition to this, we found visiting a local women’s center that covered all your needs during your pregnancy (monthly appointments, blood tests, ultrasounds etc.) under one roof was much less stressful. Compared to going to a GP where we would most likely be required to go to many other centers for services. GPs will generally recommend or give you a referral letter, thus restricting or favoring certain public and private centers. Making the decision ourselves was important and we did this through referrals and recommendations of women who had given birth in Cuenca Ecuador to figure out the best place to give the care we wanted for our unborn baby.
We hope that this post gives insight to what to consider when you are 7 weeks pregnant and want the best health care for your unborn child as well as insight to what we did and the reasons why. Leave us a comment below to share your decisions and why you chose that particular option.