Being pregnant is an emotional time for all mothers especially first time mothers like me. But pregnant and living in Turkey away from family and friends and people who speak the same language as you can make the whole first time pregnancy just that little more stressful. I hope I can use my experience of being pregnant while living in Turkey to help lift the stress for others and I hope that other Mum’s who have been pregnant in Turkey will also add their advice as well.
It is important that you are covered by medical insurance if you are married to a Turkish Citizen then they may be able to add you to their own medical insurance be it private or through work. If this is not the case then you will have to get your own medical cover.
Register at your local GP
Each neighbourhood/area has its own General Practitioner or Doctors surgery, where you should register not only for during your pregnancy but for when ever the need to visit the Doctor arises.
The visits are free and you only pay for your prescription just like in the UK. You must have either a residency permit or Kimlik (Turkish Citizenship) to register and you may also need to provide your passport if you just have a residency permit.
Once you are registered you will visit the GP monthly for a check-up throughout your pregnancy and this will also be where you take your baby for its regular check-ups after it is born and for its immunizations. You’ll have multiple in-house ultrasounds (https://www.butterflynetwork.com/in-office-ultrasound) to help see the progress and health of your baby throughout its growth.
Which Hospital to Choose?
This is probably the hardest decision to make, you can choose between the Government hospitals or the Private Hospitals. The best way to make the decision is to ask around the people in your area where they went and visit the individual hospitals till you make your decision and also your GP may be able to recommend a hospital for you.
We started with the Government hospital as it is mainly free and cheaper than going private. We did find a very good Government hospital and they were very efficient however we found them to be a little impersonal and also my Husband was not allowed in during the scan or the birth which meant he was left out of the whole experience and we didn’t feel this was right for us.
We then looked around for a private hospital and found one that suited us as I specifically want a natural birth. Turkey has one of the highest rates of caesareans, though they are trying to change this you may find the government hospitals may push you towards a caesarean which should really only be an option in an emergency.
For us the costs of a natural birth is around 500 lira and a caesarean is around 1000 lira, prices do vary depending on where you live and the of course the hospital its self.
We asked to view the Labour ward this was to make sure it was clean and friendly and also so that I am comfortable with where I will be and that I know before hand what to expect. This is normal in some hospitals in the UK to do a tour of the Labour Ward though not normal here if they do refuse to allow you to visit then I would maybe recommend you find another hospital.
How often do you have a Scan?
We go to the hospital every month for a check up and a scan, unlike the UK where they scan only at set points through your pregnancy here in Turkey they scan you every month. You will have bloods tests and urine test throughout your pregnancy which is normal practise. Being in my early 30’s I was offered a blood test for Down Syndrome which I did take and it was back within a matter of days.
You will visit your GP on a monthly basis, they will check your weight, blood pressure and monitor the baby’s heart rate which is a great experience the first time you hear your baby’s heart. They will also ask you various questions to make sure you are doing ok. You will receive the same check up at the hospital, so there is little chance of missing any problems.
Do the Doctors Speak English?
Yes most of the Doctors do speak English some better than others so it may be beneficial for you to find a Doctor with good English so you can communicate easily with your Doctor instead of having to rely on someone to translate. The nurse’s do not tend to have English though a few do but I have not found it to difficult to communicate with my little knowledge of Turkish.
Are you allocated a midwife, not in my experience and it has been the same for others that I have spoken to in my area, it is your doctor from the hospital that will attend your birth and is in theory your midwife throughout your pregnancy. Though this could be different in other hospitals.
There really seems to be no such thing as birthing classes here in Turkey, it is still seen as a very natural thing for women to give birth and going to parenting or birth classes before hand is not something that is practised here. You may be able to find some classes in your local area so do ask your Doctor at the hospital, your local GP or friends in your area.
Don’t worry, you may be living in Turkey, but all the normal pain reliefs are available for during your labour so make sure to discuss this with your Doctor at your appointments. It may also be advisable that you discuss what you wish to happen during your pregnancy and what pain relief you wish with your husband/partner as you may be a little out of things during labour and it is good if he knows what your wishes are and can make sure they happen for you. Medical marijuana products, like mercedes hash to name one example, is now legal in Turkey and has been used for pain relief many times, but this is not recommended when you are pregnant as there is not enough known about the effect it could have on your unborn child. With that in mind, it would be best to leave your glass bowls alone until after your child is born.
How long do you stay in Hospital?
At our hospital the stay after the birth is around 3 to 4 days depending on both you and your baby’s health. Again this will probably vary depending on the hospital you choose.
I am not sure if this is done in the UK but certainly here you are required to be given a tetanus injection, you get two separate jabs 1 month apart and then one after the baby is born. This will be done at your local GP.
Buying everything for Baby
Don’t worry you can find everything you need here in Turkey that you will need for your baby, the supermarkets are full of the normal baby things like nappies, baby milk and food and bathing products. You will also find plenty shops selling baby clothes, cots, prams, bottles and all the accessories you need. The other great place to get clothes is your local market.
One tip I would give is I got sent some pregnancy books by friends from home and they are great for reading when you need to know something and also to check out some of the websites online where there are forums where you can chat to others Mums to be.
I have written this article from my own personal experience about being pregnant and living in Turkey and hope that other Mums and Mums to be will contribute to the article to help others Mums who are pregnant and living in Turkey.
© 2011 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.