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Tag Archives: Unique to Brazil

Go Corinthianos

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Or actually shut the #$#@ up! Seriously, please, I’ve got kids ūüėČ ¬†Yesterday was the 4th of July, not really meaningful here in beautiful Sao Paulo. But it kind of felt like it last night, fireworks till midnight… thank you again Corinthianos.

Had I been in the US, we’d have been grilling hot dogs (they don’t grill hot dogs here, just sausages, hot dog grilling seems weird to them) and hamburgers, and eating potato salad. ¬†Interestingly it’s been blue skies and sun the last few days here. ¬†Plus the kids are all out of school, so they’ve been having water fights at our apartment complex (using the shower for the soccer court as a “pool”); it really feels like a US Summer. ¬†It’s like Brasil is trying to woo me back. ¬†And of course to top it all off last night was the BIG WIN¬†for the Libertadores Cup (South American soccer cup).

Yes soccer fans ¬†the Sao Paulo Corinthians came out on top (their first win ever). ¬†I don’t even have to turn on the TV to know when a goal is scored (don’t worry it’s on, my husband wouldn’t have it any other way), the ENTIRE neighborhood explodes. ¬†For the record we’re not Corinthian fans, but it’s still nice to know that Brasil won the cup. ¬†When the Corinthians finally won, the horns, and screaming, and fireworks went off for at least an hour. ¬†It was an all out party last night, I was afraid my two year old would wake up. ¬†I literally had to sleep with the 3 month old on my chest, as he kept getting startled by the noise and fussing. ¬†It was THAT loud. ¬†But what else would you expect from Brasilians who know how to celebrate, and well the Corinthian fans do have a reputation, somewhat akin to Raider fans.


Portuguese Word of the day- Garoa

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So if you plug garoa into google translate it translates it as drizzling. ¬†As a resident of Sao Paulo for the past year, I can tell you that is an incorrect translation. ¬†Sao Paulo seems some days to be in a constant state of garoa. ¬†Garoa isn’t just drizzling, it’s more like a constant mist. ¬†It’s lighter than any drizzle I’ve ever felt. It reminds me of the water that would hit me as I would stand next to the showers at the beach… or that mist you get sprayed with when standing near a waterfall. ¬†Drizzle it is not.

All I know for sure now though, is that I could NEVER live in Seattle.  I am not a fan of garoa, or the grey skies that accompany it.

The Albert Einstein experience

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So I’m behind on so much…new kid and all. ¬†So a quick final having a baby in Brasil post.

It turns out you really do need to bring your own clothing to the hospital. When the nurses came in the next am, they asked me where my clothing was for the day… there was no gown (not that I would want to stay in the gown as it was completely open in the back!). They then showered me. Yeah, they walked me to the shower, then sat there and instructed me on how to shower, as well as held the shower head. When they did finally give me control of it, they sat and watched me sit (wasn’t allowed to stand) and shower. After giving birth, my sense of modesty usually goes out the window, so I really could have cared less at this point.

My first meal was an interesting one. Split pea soup, brussel sprouts and steak. Seriously, in the US, that would be considered nasty…the meat was much better than I got in the US hopsitals though. Overall, for hospital food, the meat was not bad. It was definitely Brasilian though, an interesting mixes of food though, like green grape sauce over chicken, or almond crusted salmon with applesauce… but still much more edible than I had in the US. They also brought in morning and night tea and crackers.

I had every intent of never letting my son leave my sight after the initial 2 hours “monitoring,” but it turns out that the hospital is MUCH more strict on controls, and every shift change your kid goes back to the nursery, so they can account for the kids. This was a MAJOR pain around feedings, as I had to basically try and force feed a sleeping newborn, as they are there for about 2 hours. Also, my son was completely gagging/turning purple on amniotic fluid, and keep throwing it up, so they refused to let me keep him at night, and would bring him to feed every 3 hours. They pumped his stomach twice. The second time seemed to take. Then there was the circumcision, so then again they wanted him to be watched in the nursery for a bit. Then the next day they decided he was a bit yellow and needed to take a light bath for 24 hours, so on my birthday they took him all day and night, and I would nurse him in the nursery every 3 hours. I never though I would have been okay with it, but I was. As he really does just want to sleep, so just slept calmly in the light bath, and my other son was able to come on Saturday and just spend the day with me and get mommy time at the hospital. Also, my husband got a good night’s sleep, as I had to go to the nursery all night to nurse.

One thing that I have come to really REALLY appreciate about Brasil’s hospital experience is every nurse was trained on breastfeeding. First breastfeed in the room a nurse was there helping me breastfeed. And they were knowledgeable… unlike nurses in the US, who all seemed kind of inept. Each feeding a nurse would stand by me and help to make sure I knew what I was doing.. manhandling the goods if necessary. With my first son I had to visits by the “lactitions” once at 9am … and they were NOT helpful, and actually pissed me off. For my first kid, I ended up using a shield for 3 months, as I couldn’t ever get him to nurse without it. ¬†Also, despite the help, my son lost about 11% of his birth weight. When my other son lost 7% the US freaked out and told me I had to start using formula immediately. This time, the pediatricians said they were worried, but said to wait till my milk came in, and see my pediatrician as soon as I got home, to check to see if the weight came back.

As you can see their help has paid off, what a chunk.

Another thing that I thought was funny was that EVERYTHING had a barcode on it. My kid came in the room with a bar code on his butt, his hat, and each of his booties. It was kind of funny to watch them scan him like produce repeatedly throughout our stay.

Either way, I definitely think Brasil’s hospital is a bit tight on security, but I can understand why it happens.

Customs for Pregnant folk- Brazil style

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So on these hospital visits I found two things. ¬†The first was noticeable that every door of the hospital rooms had a wooded or cloth plaque/decoration with the babies name on it. ¬†In Brasil, people know what their child is to be called, WAY before they’re born. ¬†In fact, most people find it odd that I don’t have a name for my son yet. ¬†We’ve just been telling our nanny to refer to him as “Lief” although that is DEFINITELY not the name we’ll use, we just find it funny.

These door signs are intended to be brought home and used for the baby’s room as well, so thus why they’re a bit more permanent. ¬†Of course my husband thinks that having something on our door is absolutely ridiculous. For a few reasons. ¬†One our kid doesn’t have a nursery yet, as he’s sharing our bedroom until we move. Two, it’s not like we’re gonna have a whole bunch of people visiting us at the hospital, since we’re a bunch of anti-social folk ūüėČ and we’re not Brasilian.

The other hospital tradition I learned about was¬†lembrancinhas. ¬†While waiting for the valet, my son tried to dive off the back of the sofa. ¬†A nice lady and her daughter helped me out as I’m pregnant, and people in Brasil help prego folk out when their kid’s being a bit of a rascal and your husband is grabbing the car. ¬†In fact, the little girl reached into her mom’s bag and pulled out a little cupcake with a fondant baby on top, and a chocolate ganache cupcake on the bottom. ¬†Interestingly my son immediately knew it was a treat, opened it up and¬†devoured¬†the fondant baby head (creepy I know). This cupcake was a¬†lembrancinha that the family hands out to the visitors. ¬†In the US, you usually have little gifts for the nurses and such at the hospital, but not normally things that get handed out to all guests that visit. ¬†Again, luckily we’re not Brasilian, so I doubt many folks will be visiting us anyway…but I guess I’d better get started!


So I’m crazy (about natural births)

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But mostly I’m crazy in the eyes of most doctors in Brazil. ¬†Since my husband is ever so sympathetic (sarcasm), I thought a Doula would be wonderful. ¬†She could help inform me about what positions I should move into so I can help the birth move along, massage in the right spots, and generally keep things happy and moving a long. BIG Doula fan here <<——


So I went through the list of Doula’s in Sao Paulo, and emailed them in Portuguese in English searching for an English speaking Doula, and¬†found two. ¬†Raquel Olivia and Cris Toledano. ¬†I also found GAMA and Ana Cristina a midwife (who from readings seems to be the other English speaking popular expat midwife in Sao Paulo other than Marcia from Prima Luz). ¬†They told me that I needed my doctor’s approval… um okay that’s kind of weird… this is my birth, I can have whomever I want right?! ha, this is Brazil everything is mandated by some obscure law. ¬†In fact in 2006 they passed a law saying hospitals had to allow a woman the right to have someone with her. Random right? ¬†Albert Einstein in fact allows Doulas up until the birth part, and then they cannot participate.

So I had a list for my doctor on what she would let me do about natural (when I say natural she hears vaginal I’m sure). ¬†I generally got the impression from the answers that my doctor has one idea in the back of her mind, and is totally happy telling me everything she thinks I want to hear… my husband says I’m a crazy hormonal, paranoid pregnant woman…. maybe, we will see.

Here are my questions:

  1. Can I have a Doula? I only work with Midwives (that’s the Brazilian way of making it hard on me, and the short answer is no). ¬†Marcia Koifmann was out of town, and Ana Cristina only delivers at Sao Luiz… So meeting my doctor’s midwives at my next appt. ¬†Good thing I have super expat insurance.
  2. How many days over can I go? 10 days over, and I have to meet with her ever 2 days
  3. If my water breaks how many hours before I have to be induced? 12 hours
  4. Do I have to stay in bed during labor? Only if i get an epidural (I think she missed the natural part)
  5. Mandatory fetal monitoring? Only after epidural, otherwise every 15
  6. Can I eat once admitted? Yes eating and drinking until you get the epidural.. again with the epidural.
  7. Enema? Nope
  8. Can I keep the baby with me after birth?  30 minutes of bonding time, and then 4 hours where neither you or the father can be with them other than looking through a glass window!
  9. What tests and procedures are done? Vitamin K, Hep B and TB, hearing, and genetic blood test
  10. What do you put in the baby’s eyes? Silver Nitrate, and regular antibiotics are not an option… for the record the US switched to antibiotics like 10 years ago…tho Sao Luiz said something about lasers???
  11. When will you show up? When you are 7cm.  Midwife when you get to the hospital.
  12. How will you bill us? We will quote you up front, then send you the bill after birth and you have 1 week to pay it all, then submit to your insurance for reimbursement
  13. What about the baby pediatrician? If you can get the neonatalagist to sign off on it and take responsibility should something happens, sure (again Brasilian no there).
  14. How long is the hospital stay? 2-3 days (google translated link here from Einstein showing a 3 day package)
  15. Does that increase with C-section? Nope- 3 days.
  16. Will you wait to clamp the cord if I want? Yes
  17. Do I have to use stirrups and lay on a surgical bed? Umm yes it’s the only way. In fact, she looked at me like I was speaking Chinese…. yes people you can deliver a baby in other positions. Like maybe I want to stand on my head or something, heck if I know what I’ll feel like, but I don’t want to be told I can’t… I’m a bit stubborn.

The reality is my husband is not into natural births. ¬†He thinks I’m a granola eating nut job. ¬†I’m actually doing hypnobabies home study right now, so we’ll see how effective that is… and yes maybe I’m a nut job. But my mom had 5 kids naturally and said it was no big deal…. so I’ve got to be able to do this.

I have to say after the above conversation I am even more invested in making sure I have this birth 100% natural. ¬†There’s now a level of stubborn pride attached to this whole birthing in Brasil adventure. ¬†Either way, I’m not meeting all of her Midwives (4 of em, 2 speak English, and one REALLY speaks English), so hopefully my paranoia will¬†dissipate. ¬†The first Midwife pointed out that all of the women in the public hospitals have babies naturally. . .

*UPDATE* I get a lot of questions from individuals on this, so I assume like me it is a hotly Googled topic. ¬†Deleting cleaning up some of my old files of baby prep in Brazil I found the following links on natural childbirth that I found useful … and hope you do it. ¬†I left in Google Translate to English for everyone’s convenience.

Hospital Visit 1 – Sao Luiz

So I previously blogged a bit about the hospitals. ¬†But today we visited Sao Luiz. It’s down the road from us, so convenient, and we know nothing about how things work here, so it was helpful to go and get their pamphlets.

Umm wow, so there is a whole entrance lobby area just for maternity— it is a maternity hospital, so that makes sense. ¬†I didn’t see a bunch of pregnant women being wheeled around in wheelchairs, most walked in and sat down for an incredibly long time and seemed to be filling out paperwork. But overall, it was very posh. ¬†Heck, just to get onto a maternity floor you had to pass a security guard (they love those security guards here in Brazil).

There is a Cartorio in the hospital, so you just go down to them with the certificate of live birth and your official or notarized copy of your marriage certificate, and walla you’ve got the birth certificate process completed.

The labor and delivery has two entrances… ala Brazil birthing of course. ¬†One is the labor rooms (8) and the other is the C-section entrance. ¬†Yeah, there’s no hiding the elective C here. ¬†2 or the 8 rooms are for “natural” laboring. ¬†i.e. there is a tub you can relax in and a birth ball, and music. ¬†I take it these 2 rooms are probably nicer. ¬†Of course they still then ship you off to the other side (C world) to do the delivery in an operating room. ¬†Hubby has to go up get sanitized, and then can join you.

I found it¬†hilarious, and my poor hubby was trying to understand what the tour guide was saying, when she said they provide the father a sling. ¬†Love when Brasilians use English words, that don’t sound English at all. ¬†And love even more that they give fathers a sling to stick their baby into for bonding. Love slings, but not for those first moments of life.. then again maybe dads drop kids on the ground all the time ūüėČ

Post birth, the baby, a nurse, and a security guard step into the elevator with your child. ¬†Your hubby can then run up the stairs if he’s crazy (like us), or catch the next elevator to the bercario (baby nursery). ¬†Mom’s drugged up or being wheeled off to who knows where they never mentioned that part…and I forgot to ask. ¬†Babe sits in the bercario for 3-6 hours … depending on when the mom is finally situated in her room and ready. I didn’t take photos of other peeps kids, but there were only like 3 newborns. ¬†I think I may bring my pampers, as they all seemed to be using these awful plasticy blue diapers I bought once that gave my kid a rash.

floor bercario

Now for the rooms… umm okay. We gave birth at Cedar Sinai and saw their nicest rooms. .. and of course where half of Holywood had their babies.

Now let’s compare that $3784 a night room to the following R$1010 a night room. ¬†Um seriously Brazil has got this whole pamper the mom thing down… for cheap. ¬†Not sure who I’d put in the other area… my posse?

mac daddy suite

And of course it goes down from there:

To here:

And to the most basic of rooms, which is huge. ¬†My husband noted the comfiness of the sofa bed compared to the pathetic cot he was given to sleep on at Cedars. ¬†I noted that the bed actually laid flat. I hate that about US beds. I couldn’t ever just lay freakin flat.

Food wise, you either order, or the nicer rooms come with free meals, up to free petit fours and tea, etc. The photos above list what the “extras” are with each room.

But here’s the menu. I had to laugh at the extensive cafe list. How Brazilian

Also, love that the walls are not just hospital white. Way to bring in that Brazilian spice.

I know SUPER SUPER long post. Finally the bathroom. Note the complimentary slippers. Which I found ironic, since they provide those, but the tour guide told me to bring my own pads for the post bleeding. ¬†Seriously, why the heck wouldn’t they provide pads? ¬†She also told me to bring my own clothing.. again I find it hard to believe I couldn’t sit in a hospital gown… but she probably finds it hard to believe any self respecting Brasilian woman would want to right?

A free pediatrician visit!

Ahh something free from a doctor. It’s a miracle. ¬†I visited my son’s pediatrician today for a “consulta,” where he explained the whole baby birth process, not the mommy side but the baby side. ¬†My obgyn was vaguer, so it was helpful to get a good understanding. Seriously, great pediatrician, and perfect English to boot.

Immediately after birth

Just like the US they do Vitamin K shots, cleaning, weighing, and Hep B vaccination. As this is Brazil you also get a TB vaccination, which makes sense.

The eyes get Silver Nitrate put in them, but the belly button does not. ¬†If you want to use antibiotics like the freaking modern world does then you are S out of luck. ¬†A. Silver Nitrate is mandated by law, so there is no arguing. B. The alternative isn’t recognized here, nor is it even found in Brazil.¬†**Update**¬†Per Albert Einstein you can opt out of Silver Nitrate.

They will then take your child from you and put them in an observation room. UNLESS you insist on breastfeeding, if you don’t, off goes the baby for 4 hours.


The ¬†child goes into observation in just the diaper and are under a heat lamp the whole time. ¬†I kind of think that’s a bit much, but whatever. ¬†I’m going to try and convince the doctors to let me keep the baby with me… I doubt they will listen but will see.

Then they do yet another exam and you get your kiddo back to bond with.

Day 2

They do the hearing tests and the genetic testing. ¬†Your pediatrician then comes to the hospital to check the kid out if you call; otherwise you get to do the office visit afterwards. ¬†If you are going to circumcise, you get to call a special surgical pediatrician… and here they don’t do them, or if they do they have a modified one that they’ll tell you about.

They also send you home with a little hospital grade alcohol bottle for the belly button should you need it.

Hospital Stay Length

As I’m using Albert Einstein (this echos what my ob said) the package my insurance covers is 2-3 days (you buy “packages” here, and most expats can get the nice ones). Usually it’s the C-sections who choose all 3 days. ¬†We will see what the food is like, as I have to admit I’m partial to having an¬†air conditioned¬†room for 3 days, so may just push my insurance to allow all 3 days. ¬†But I know some women want to get home after 2 days. Either way it’s your choice, which is nice. ¬†I hear the hospital rooms are amazingly nice here, so I’m looking forward to that.