There we were, a family of four looking for a way to get our feet back into the country we loved.
Long over were the days of overstaying tourist visas and other temporary stays, we needed something permanent and lasting.
The problem was that I was American and my wife Danish, meaning that visas would be difficult, the frustration ensued…
I will never forget that one evening where I was sitting in front of my computer and trying to figure out a way to get back into the country legally, which had become a daily ritual by that point.
And suddenly *BAM* there it was, the answer I had been looking for all this time lay right in front of my four eyes (reading glasses)!
Any baby born within the boarders of Brazilian territory, automatically obtains citizenship at birth, what’s even more, the parents of the Brazilian child can legally stay in the country permanently as a Brazilian child has the right to live in his/her country.
We ended up taking a leap of (blind) faith and booking our flight tickets to give birth in Brazil even before my wife was pregnant.
And so the journey began…
We Landed in Brazil with a Big Belly and a Big Mission
About 7 months and a lot of research later, we were on an airplane heading to Brazil.
It was a foggy morning in Sao Paulo and our plane was naturally delayed, rerouted and rerouted again because of this.
When the airplane weels kissed the sweet Brazilian tarmac, there was a sigh of relief yet a feeling of nervousness “would they ask questions about my wife’s belly?”.
We were trailblazers here as far as we knew and yeah other’s had done this before us, but no one had lived to write about it – or just written about it.
And so we continued to the immigration check point and instead of frowns and scrutiny, we got smiles and welcoming words.
Ahhh… it was nice to be back in Brazil!
Florianópolis, the Land of Milk and Honey
I had been to Florianópolis one time before on vacation and remembered it being absolutely amazing.
Even better is that in all my months of research, I found out that Florianópolis was the spearhead of the natural birthing movement in Brazil. That was a relief because the horrendous tales of doctors taking advantage of patients, pushing c-sections, had scared us and we had our sights set on doing what was best for us and not the doctor.
Picture this: after a long 11 or so hour drive from São Paulo, we showed up in Florianópolis not knowing a soul, and with a phone number to someone who could possibly help us.
So, I pulled over and found the nearest pay phone I could and dialed the number I had. This well connected Brazilian guy was awesome and hooked us up to stay at this aparthotel type place for a few days until we could find something more permanent.
The Housing Hunt Was on
So he kindly took us in and drove us around looking for a house or apartment. We stopped at all the main pousadas (aparthotels) and he asked if they would be willing to rent us one on a monthly basis.
This caring soul did this so that we didn’t get the special foreigner price and instead could get the native Brazilian one (a savings of usually several hundred percent!).
Note: if a foreigner makes an inquiry, many Brazilian business owners see this as an opportunity to stick it to you price-wise…
SUCCESS! We had found a place to stay within only 3 days time at a great Brazilian price.
It was a great apartment, centrally located and fully furnished with bedding and all – it was literally footsteps away from the best beaches, restaurants and activities that Florianópolis has to offer.
The Quest for the Perfect Hospital and Doctor
Our nesting mission had been accomplished and now it was time to get to figuring out where we would give birth, with who and how (let’s not forget how much on our already strained finances!).
First, we met with a guy who was reputable as being a big advocate of natural and home births; he must have been the doctor to the celebrities around the area because Doctor Cheesy-smile was EXPENSIVE!
So we went and did the polar opposite by checking out a public university hospital under the SUS system, and the people were sweet but facilities run down and you could just feel a sense of insecurity when looking around “will they have enough on staff, will there be room, will it be safe, will we be able to share a room with several others?”
A Last Ditch Effort
The word “frustration” couldn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling up to this point, plus not to mention all of the confusion.
Well, that was until I picked up the phone and called a natural birthing clinic we had previously discovered online.
Since I didn’t have a local phone number, I had to literally go down to the parking lot at the pousada, connect to the free wireless and call using Skype – it was a pretty funny site to be honest.
From the first phone call we were literally sold.
Here was a group of midwives who believed so much in natural births and doing what was right that they started their own movement that is now beginning to sweep throughout Brazil.
We arranged to sit down with them and talk about what they do and how their service functions.
The Answer to All our Prayers
They are a home birthing clinic were their focus is on the mother, father to be and baby – that’s it.
Amazingly, they could offer us a lot more then we ever would have imagined!
Here is why:
- They would come to us at our place – we didn’t have to fight traffic or anything.
- When the labor started, we just had to pick up the phone and call.
- They brought all of the necessary birthing equipment with them.
- My wife would get the VIP treatment during the birthing – plenty of care and attention (no cold and uncomfortable hospital bed).
- Only 5 out of 200 births with them had ended in the mother needing to be rushed to the hospital due to complications – only 1 ending in a c-section!
- The focus was on us and not a hospital or doctor’s profits!
- They could offer us all services in English + help with the birth certificate.
And actually much more…
At first we had the same doubts about home births as others, though after talking to them we were completely sold.
And more importantly it felt right!
Took a Leap of Faith
We had spent so much on the flight tickets, car, housing and other things that we couldn’t afford some fancy birthing package with Dr. Celebrity himself.
We were financially leaning more towards the free hospital birth under SUS side of the equation and really couldn’t afford to pay much.
This was mainly due to our car sucking away all our savings when we arrived (cost double what we expected).
Though, after we had met with the sweet midwives from this home birthing group, it was time to make a decision: were we going to follow our hearts or our wallets?
The look in my 6 month pregnant wife’s eyes pierced right through my heart and there was no doubt in my mind about what to do.
I then picked up the phone and called the midwife and told her the news.
“We would like you all to deliver our baby.” We were met with joy and understanding.
The Birth Went Amazingly Well
As the labor began, we called the birthing group and let them know that it was time.
They rushed over in a group of 3 and it all began…
As they inflated a birthing tub up in the middle of the living room, they began warming the water up.
It was time!
The midwives were so awesome and caring with us and made sure that everything happened smoothly – and it did.
A few hours later and no epidurals or painkillers needed, our Brazilian baby girl was born!
Note: as they had all of these techniques to keep my wife comfortable (i.e. no flat hospital bed), there was no need for harmful epidurals or anything.
A happy and healthy little baby girl and everything happened without a hitch.
All to this panoramic view:
We were happy and content and they did a wonderful job – they even helped us get the birth certificate after all that VIP treatment!
How Our Experience Can Help You
After I’ve began writing this “Giving Birth in Brazil” Series, many people have written to me asking the following questions:
- Can you recommend a place to give birth?
- Do you know of any housing?
- How about a car?
- What options will fit my budget?
- What’s the easiest way to a residence visa?
I realize that Brazil is all about who you know and that it can be unfair to expect that just delivering this information to you will be enough.
So, if you feel like you’d like some hands-on help, please complete this enquiry form and I’ll get back to you with a package that’s tailored to suit your needs. With the help of my team, I offer a range of services at reasonable prices that will take the stress and confusion out of your move, leaving you to focus on the important things, like giving birth and planning your family’s new and exciting future in Brazil!
If you prefer to have a chat first, you can get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading about my journey and following this series, I look forward to helping you more and more through this site!
Valeu – Cheers!
Posts from the Giving Birth in Brazil series:
- Part 1: Planning to Have a Baby in Brazil – What You Must Know
- Part 2: Choosing a City, Housing + logistics
- Part 3: Finding a Doctor and a Hospital to Give Birth
- Part 4: All About Pricing when Giving Birth
- Part 5: All About Insurance When Giving Birth
- Part 6: Before and During Birth – Getting Ready and What to Expect
- Part 7: After Giving Birth, Here’s What You Do Next
- Part 8: Having Our Baby in Brazil – A Success Story