5 Reasons this American Mum loved having her Baby in Australia!
5 Reasons this American Mum loved having her Baby in Australia: by Cristen Kelly at Between Roots & Wings
For a couple of years after arriving in Australia from the United States, I felt more like a tourist than a local. My husband and I both worked, paid rent, enjoyed the lifestyle, and even called Woolworths “Woolies” and knew how to order coffee; but, we had nothing in the way of cultural roots to tie us to this lovely place we’d chosen to live.
That changed in January 2013 when we welcomed a daughter into our family. Our baby was the first one of us to be eligible for an Australian passport, and the only one who might grow to speak with an Aussie accent. The arrival of our True Blue little mate-ette not only expanded our family, but also gave me ties to this country that will forever make it dear to my heart.
I will always be grateful to Australia for the care my family was given surrounding the birth of our girl, and these are five reasons why I think this is a fantastic country to have a child:
We chose to have our baby through the public system (“public healthcare” – a phrase that sends cold shivers down the spines of many of my countrymen). We were treated with professionalism, courtesy, and care every step of the way. It began with my bulk bill GP, who spent several appointments making sure I was in the best health for conception. Then, there were the the midwives who answered every question and treated us with grace. And, the doctor performed my emergency C-section and then hugged me and told me she’d had one, too, so she knew what I was going through. I felt fully supported and informed each step of the way. And, astonishingly, we never carried the burden of a single medical bill.
In the United States, having a baby under the sole care of a midwife is a pretty alternative choice. Thankfully, for me, midwife care for women with uncomplicated pregnancies is a much more mainstream choice in Australia. I was lucky to be able to enroll into a midwifery clinic through a public hospital, which meant that I visited the same midwife through my entire pregnancy. My midwife, Leonie, balanced her compassionate warmth with decades of knowledge, and I still get a little teary when I think of how sacred she made my pregnancy and birth experience feel. She and the team of midwives encouraged and empowered me in labor, and they also knew when it was time for me to to be attended by a physician, maintaining calm the entire time. After my discharge from hospital, Leonie visited me at home every couple of days for two weeks to help with settling and feeding issues (of which I had plenty!). My midwife care will forever remain one of the greatest gifts of my pregnancy and birth experience.
After we “graduated” from home visits from our midwife, we still had plenty of questions about this little person in our midst, who never seemed to stop crying, and never seemed to start sleeping. Our local Early Childhood Centre was open for free consultations on our daughter’s growth and development, and we dropped into their breastfeeding clinic on one of our hardest days for some much needed advice and reassurance. A couple weeks down the road, I turned to the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s free hotline, staffed by trained volunteers, for further advice. When I needed clarification on a medicine I was taking and it’s safety during breastfeeding, I called the MotherSafe hotline, which specifically supports pregnant and nursing women with questions about medical exposures.
To this day, we make use of Health Direct, a nurse’s hotline, which is exactly what you need when your child has a fever in the middle of the night, and you’re not sure if you should go to hospital. They’ve eased our minds on more than one occasion, and at least once advised us to seek medical care. Every mother should have a nurse on call!
4. Mother’s Group
In the U.S., finding a mother’s group is a pretty ad hoc affair. If you’re lucky, you might have a friend or two who is having a baby around the same time, or perhaps you arrange to meet with some local women from a Facebook group. In Australia, I was invited to come to the Early Chidlhood Centre when my daughter was a few weeks old to meet a group of women from my area who were all new mothers, as well. For a few weeks, we had formal meetings with some information from the midwives, as well as group discussion on the challenges we faced. Then, we exchanged email addresses and set out on our own. In the early days, we aimed for weekly catch ups at a cafe or the beach, and we shared war stories, and watched our babies grow. All of the professional advice we received was wonderful, but to have a regular group of fellow sleep deprived women to talk to about this crazy new adventure with was a weekly check-in with sanity.
5. It’s a Great Place for Her to Grow Up
My home country is a lovely place to live, as well, but I feel there’s something so special about the childhood my little Australian is having. Perhaps it’s the glow in her cheeks from afternoons on the beautiful beaches or the ease with which she makes friends with the people we meet from so many different cultures. It might be her extroversion, which I’m certain is one part genetic and one part the product of being surrounded by welcoming neighbors and community. But, I think the truly magical part is growing up in a place that values family time, holidays, and leisure. We expect that she’ll work hard at school and her chosen activities, but I hope that she has it ingrained in her psyche that those pursuits mean little if you don’t take the time to enjoy them and the things that matter most like family, friends, nature, neighbors, sharing stories, good food, and quiet reflection. This is what I’m counting on Australia to teach her.
Cristin Kelly blogs about expat life, Sydney, travel, and parenting her three year old “Ausmerican” at Between Roots and Wings.
Thank you so much Cristen for sharing your lovely story. I share so many similar feelings, having had my first baby in Australia after moving here from the UK. I had an equally wonderful and supportive experience here too!