Taking A Look At The Cost Of A Pregnancy
Last month we took a peek at how much it costs to leave this mortal coil. This month we’ll start at the beginning and discuss bringing a new Filipino into the world. I have only been responsible for one new mouth to feed in this burgeoning land, but I have done my research and it is interesting how the costs and what you get for your peso varies from place to place. I can’t comment on Manila, although I have been led to believe the situation is pretty similar and prices fairly consistent.
So, you and the Asawa are about to enjoy the blessed event, you’re in the family way, she has a bun in the oven or, as they say in Visayan, she is Buntis! Well done but now you have to suffer the mood swings of the first trimester, the incredible urges of the second trimester and the dragged out interminable length of the third trimester! Personally I wouldn’t want to suffer through that again and I remind the Asawa of this whenever the subject arises. Since she is a Filipina and we only have two kids (I inherited a lovely daughter) this subject does arise often. She also thinks I would have an illegitimate child with another woman providing it is son! As far fetched as that sounds to us foreigners, it is perfectly reasonable to a Filipina.
If you think you are too old to become a Daddy (again perhaps), then stay away from the Philippines. I know men who have fathered at the age of 73 and men hitting retirement age at 65 and being a new parent at the same time is not at all a rare occurrence here. Some might argue how fair that is for the child, will they ever really know their father? Who knows? People are living longer these days and if having a child with a woman 30 or 40 years your junior keeps you feeling young, who is to say what is and isn’t right?
What is important is that if you have the child, make sure you look after the poor little tyke! That care starts as soon as you know the Asawa is pregnant. Women are funny creatures and I haven’t all the answers but I have learnt that what might seem trivial to us mere males is of vital significance to a pregnant Filipina. Keep in mind they may be sensitive and insecure to begin with and all of a sudden they are burdened with bringing a new life into the world. She wouldn’t be the first woman to wonder if you are going to stick around until and then after the big day! Some reassurance, no matter how trite and banal it might sound to your male ears, just might make all the difference.
Remember women go through some major hormonal swings when pregnant, it is a big deal after all. You really have to give them a lot of leeway and put up with a great deal of BS, for want of a more apt term! Not just the regular female pregnant BS, but the stuff that has her wearing black bra and panties to keep the Onggu’s away, or stuffing leaves in the window sills and pinning black patches onto her clothing. I must admit the Juju works as we didn’t get one Onggu coming around wanting to rip into the foetus! Some of these Onggu’s actually cut themselves in half and fly away into the night, then crash through the roof and drop onto the sleeping mum to be and devour the baby! Not worth the risk! Get the black knickers and keep them handy!
You also need to keep away from old women down the market. Many of these crones are actually Onggu’s themselves and love to disrupt the pregnancy by touching the swelling belly. They cluck and make cooing noises but in reality they are sucking the vitality out of the unborn! Don’t let it happen and make sure she has her Anting Anting pinned to her black bra!
Now, should you make it to the big day, you will have had to attend a pre-natal every month. Or maybe not! Some women can’t afford it or don’t want the expense, others will rely on the Barangay Quack Doctor or local midwife. Personally I have a lot of faith in these midwives. They have seen just about everything there is to see when it comes to Ob-Gyn work! Forget Stanford Medical School or wherever, these old hags have been in the front line for generations.
Our local Quack successfully turned our baby when it was threatening a breech presentation and the rather expensive, US trained Ob-Gyn specialist in Cebu was too scared to risk trying this. Of course I was left in ignorant bliss about what was happening to my child or maybe I would have stuck my fat foreigner face in where it turned out not to be needed.
Now at first we wanted the local doctor in the province to handle the pre-natal and delivery but she refused. It seems us foreigners have a reputation of complaining about everything and not finding local standards up to snuff. Actually, for a rural practise I have always felt Dr Dublin runs a pretty tight ship up there in Daanbantayan. Anyway, we had already cancelled our Cebu Doctors’ Hospital Specialist after the breech presentation fiasco and we didn’t think we’d make it down to Cebu in time anyway. Or else we would have to hang around in a hotel there for a week racking up the bills. Plus when I told the Asawa she could spend whatever she saved on some nice jewellery she was quite happy to look for something cheaper than the P25,000 (starting price and providing here were no complications) Cebu Doctor’s were charging. If she needs a caesarean and quite often the wives of foreigners do, that will set you back at least P50,000 or so at Chung Hua or Cebu Doctors’.
There are packages in Cebu at the Cebu Maternity Hospital from about P10,000 and this includes all the pre-natal check ups, ultra sounds and so on. A friend of ours insisted his wife have their child there as it was a maternity hospital and not a hospital full of sick people. If you have seen your average Filipino hospital you would understand his point. Basic hygiene is ignored as money for cleaners and maintenance is pocketed by the administrators and nursing staff are too proud of their professional status to clean walls and windows. Or do much else other than stand around and chat!
My sister in law had a P10,000 package deal at the Vellez Hospital but when she had complications and later, tragically died, the limitations of the “package” became evident. We could not move her to a private, aircon room because then we would have to pay for the doctor’s visits. Even though the room was right next to the public one she had been in for days! The rigid adherence to ridiculous “hospital policy” amidst emergency situations and surrounded by a total lack of professionalism really does make us foreigners wild. Perhaps Dr Dublin knew a thing or two I didn’t?
In the end we spent around P12,000 and had the baby delivered at Medellin Base Hospital. We had to buy our own delivery kit for the doctor and her team to use in the delivery room! This cost a few thousand but the local drug stores know what’s on the list and stock everything. Make sure you insist on pain killers for the wife for before and after delivery, the word epidural was unknown to the midwife! The doctor had heard of the term but since few of her patients could afford such luxury, she never wrote a script for it!
Be there and make sure you know what is supposed to happen because not all of the staff may know much about nursing, first aid, basic health and hygiene etc. Just because they graduated nursing school doesn’t mean much in my experience. I studied my US Army Special Forces Medical Handbook, an absolute must for any Expat! When the nurse brought my newborn daughter to me, I knew enough to know she had fluid on the lung and needed to be drained and ventilated. I turned her over and fluid poured out of her! Frightening.
My oldest daughter was born at home with just my father in law assisting. It thankfully went without a hitch as the midwife was delayed and of course, it was virtually free. However, although babies have been born since Adam was a lad, maybe I’m too much of a modern day wimp. Pay the money and get the best medical care for your wife and new born that you can afford. And be thankful you can afford it.