Thursday, August 23, 2007

Random Thursdays: Birth and Parenting in Spain

Eryka was pretty brave to give birth in Spain, considering the high rate of cesarean sections and common administration of episiotomies for vaginal births -- her two biggest fears when it came to delivering a baby. Some sources report the rate of cesarean sections in Spain as high as 40% in public hospitals, with the rates even higher in private hospitals.

http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=91&story_id=31786

As Eryka was roaming the hospital the day after delivering Joaquin, she passed by the nurses' station and noticed a list of women who had recently delivered, indicating whether the birth was natural or by cesarean section. Of the twelve women in the maternity ward, ten had cesarean births. In some of these cases, it's an emergency cesarean, but in many cases at private hospitals, women schedule the procedure. They don't want to deal with the pain of labor and delivery; they just want that baby removed, with as little hassle to them as possible. We have met several women here in Spain with this mentality. It is slightly bizarre to us (especially since we associate a cesarean birth with a more difficult, painful recovery), but certainly in line with much of what we have observed of parenting in Spain.

Most women here don't have children until they're between 35 and 45, and then usually only have one. In the most tender years, parenting seems very hands off. Many parents we see don't seem to want to get close to their small infants - the babies are treated like little disease carriers, with a 24/7 quarantine. We see many babies on the street being toted around in their high-end bassinet-style strollers, at a safe distance from mom and dad. Very rarely do we see parents actually holding their infant children, and the only Baby Bjorn we have seen in Spain is the one we use for Joaquin.

We once mentioned our observation of how parents treat their infants to our Bishop, who is from the U.S. and has lived here for nearly twenty years. He said he noticed the same thing, though pointed out that the parental tendency to keep the kids distant in early years tends to reverse as kids reach their late teenage years. At that point, parents can't seem to keep their kids close enough. Which is probably why so many Spaniards don't leave home until they're 35.

8 comments:

Dad or Mother Glover said...

Hold your children close always. Love them, and they will love you. Yeah, right! Like I'm the expert! I just wish I were with you right now to hold Isaac, Stella, and Joaquin, and their mom and dad too. Love you, Mother

Tim and Nancy said...

Well, just make sure your kids don't learn those crazy Spainish traditions and can get out of your home when the time is right and love their kids like you love them.

Kd and Clay said...

When I was in hard labor I told the nurse that a c-section was sounding really great right then. She patiently reminded me that recovering from one isn't so much fun. She was a great nurse and she was right. On another note, my favorite thing (even in this heat) is the warmth of Baby Timothy's belly against mine. How sad for parents that don't feel the same.

Kim said...

I won't bore y'all with my countless articles about brain development and physical touch, but let's just say I have a file cabinet full of them. Of course, we all know it is important even without the research. Besides, it's the parents who are missing out--not just the babies.

Chrislynn said...

Foreign countries like Spain and New Jersey are weird. Just kidding, I have gained a fondness for Jersey, and I am sure there are things about Spain that you guys love.

You know I have to have c-sections, right? It isn't just a vanity thing with me.

drew said...

Yes, yes, I know you have to have a c-section for a reason, though I have my suspicions about the vanity thing ;)

Chrislynn said...

Very funny Drew.

The Silly Witch said...

You guys are probably a breath of fresh air to those people. Hopefully when they are in their own homes they pull their young ones close to them.