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Giving birth in Istanbul, Turkey: My birth journey | Ran Out of Ink

I had a back-to-back pregnancy. My firstborn was just 5 months when I conceived. Given that my first pregnancy was an elective cesarean, I obviously had to opt for a cesarean again. Elective cesarean means where my choice was cesarean before trying natural or induced labor. I just honestly did not want to go through a long arduous labor. Anyway, according to my doctor, if you had a prior cesarean, you have to go for it in your next pregnancy to avoid complications. I was not going to go for natural labor either way. Well, whatever the case, I happened to be giving birth in Turkey.

Turkey is quite known for medical tourism, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) being one of the main things international patients come for. On top of that, they are very good at Caesarian (C-section) surgeries; data suggests Turkey has the highest rate of C-section surgeries in the world. If you are thinking about giving birth in Turkey, here is my own personal experience of delivering there.

Taxi

If you will go to Turkey for medical tourism, it is advisable to book a taxi prior to your arrival, and Fat Taxi is the one you recommend They speak English, and provide minivans which are so convenient to put all the suitcases. You will require to put in your flight itinerary to book this taxi. 

Choosing the Hospital 

I was researching for a while, checking reviews and websites Then I came across Memorial Hospital. It had good reviews, multiple branches, and luckily one near my accommodation at the time. Since I was staying in G tower, in Bagcilar, my choice was the Bahçelievler branch. I know it can be a bit scary with the language barrier, so it is important for you to choose a hospital with translators. 

When I went to the website, you can find the English option besides other languages under the International Patients button. The language barrier is quite an issue there; many websites are just in Turkish only. Here is the link: https://www.memorial.com.tr/en/hospitals/bahcelievler

Then went to the “Let us call you” button on the website and provided my number. Called them as well just in case (+90 549 639 3366). I could not book an appointment online at that time due to technical reasons which is why I had to call. 

From their website, there was a list of gynecologists, and I chose Dr. Ulviye Hanlı. I saw her profile and liked it. You can view which doctors are there in each department and their available time slot. I made an appointment via Whatsapp when they contacted me. A few hours later an English-speaking translator Whatsapped me asking for my name and a passport scan for the appointment.

Driving

You can just translate and notarize your current driving license. Then you will be able to drive in Turkey without any issue. That time, you can go for rental which is expensive there, but worth it due to the insane traffic in Istanbul. Or, you can book Taxi through “iTaksi” or “BiTaksi” an hour and a half earlier and reach your destination. I did not have much luck using these applications since there was always no Turquoise or Black Taxi nearby. You can also just wave to a Taxi on the road, and use them.

Doctor’s Appointment

When I first arrived at the hospital my first impression was that the hospital is clean and fancy. The first thing I saw was the modern parking facilities since we drove to the hospital in a rental. Getting out from the lift we were greeted with a hotel-like reception and a Starbucks. The interior design of the hospital was breathtaking, like we were in a five-star hotel and not a hospital. A piano was playing melodies on its own(literally, the buttons are being pressed automatically). Other than that,  there is a number of restaurants and cafes. Vending machines are there around as well for water bottles, coffee, and snacks. And hey, there is a hairdresser too!

I had been in contact with a translator on WhatsApp and she told me to meet her at the obstetrics reception. As I headed there I couldn’t help but admire how luxurious the place was. The translator met me at the reception and dealt with the appointment check-in and registration, all I had to do was hand over my passport.

Everything was very convenient. The ultrasonogram room was right in front of the doctor’s office where they measured my weight, blood pressure and prepped me. The blood tests were also on the same floor. Medical visits cost me 1100 Turkish Lira which consisted of the Ultrasonogram. I did not have insurance at that point so it was pricey. But if you come within 10 days for follow-up, it is free! 

I am honestly so glad I chose Dr. Ulviye Hanlı because she is the sweetest doctor I have visited. She checked me up with 4D ultrasonography. Then had to do certain blood tests which cost me another 1000 Turkish Lira. I was 8 months plus at that time and we discussed what would be done. It is to be noted that I had no serious complications in any of my pregnancies.

She gave me her Whatsapp number in case of emergencies. And, she was always there in case of anything. She even on her own checked up on me because two days earlier I texted her as my blood pressure was suddenly too low. 

Normally you are supposed to visit every month for a check-up. But since I was already 8+ months, she told me to visit her after 15 days again until the surgery. According to the due date, the suggested cesarean date was 12 days before the due date. 

Cesarian Pricing

After two weeks, we did an ultrasound again. On the 8th of August, we did all the necessary checkups and tests for surgery preparation. We went to the International Patient Center and found out the cost and all. It costs 18,000 Turkish Lira. It consists of the following:

Cesarian Section Package: 18.000₺

  • Preops blood, anesthesia
  • 2 nights hospitalizing 
  • 1 companion
  • 3 times meal plus tea for \patient and attendant
  • Mother’s and baby’s first examinations 
  • Blood Tests for baby: bilirubin total, blood count, blood type, TSH, T4, Glukoz
  • Heel Blood Test
  • Breastfeeding Education
  • Dişler change Training
  • Puerperal Sherbet
  • Baby’s blanket and overalls
  • Discharging education for baby and mother
  • Baby bag (with bio derma products from Mustela) 
  • Free parking service
  • Psychological service 
  • Dietitian
  • Hair blow-dry
  • Farewell dinner from “Big Chefs”

Patient room

You will normally get assigned to a single room with one attendant. However, I had a 1 years old toddler with me, so they made an exception to allow my baby to attend with my husband since we had no one to look after our baby. The patient rooms are designed to provide comfort like a five-star hotel. It is a spacious regular room with an automatically adjustable patient bed, a big TV and a big sofa bed. Also includes a wardrobe, safe box, a study desk, and minibar. If you want they can bring a baby bed for your toddler. Obviously has an ensuite shower and toilet. You do not feel enclosed or trapped because of the huge windows. 

Standard room for patient
Standard room for patient in Memorial Hospital

Day of the surgery

On the day of operation, we went to the hospital at 8 am because the surgery was due at 9 am. The night before the surgery, I had serious constipation. I texted the Dr. and she replied that in the morning, she will tell the nurse to clean my bowel with a rectal medicine called “enema”.  I needed to fast for 12 hours before surgery.

After getting registered, which unfortunately took a while, we went to the room and got settled. A nurse came and administered the constipation medicine to ease my bowel movement before the surgery I had some bowel movements with some blood. Then, they did the vascular access and prepped me up. Staff came and asked me about my choice of anesthesia, and I chose the general one over the spinal one because I am a bit of a scaredy-cat. 

Soon, I was being pushed into the operation room. I was teary-eyed having bid farewell to my toddler who was crying. Dr. Ulviye seeing me crying reassured me so sweetly. Then they put a catheter and the anesthesiologist asked me for the last time my choice to which I confirmed general. 

Before I know it, I was out of the operation. I was hauled into my room. Definitely was a bit doozy, and then met my baby! My toddler just took a nap and I was back within 30 minutes. Other than the surgery outfit, you have to bring your own clothes for the baby and yourself.

You have to obviously follow the doctor’s suggestion and not eat for approximately six hours. I got too thirsty after a while so I wet my lips with water. The food was strictly monitored by a dietician who gave no food except infused water and nectar the first day. I already walked under supervision after 5 hours and then showered. At night, I had soup. 

Second day

The next day I had nectar, and then mushy food for easy digestion. My walking felt more comfortable, and my pain decreased. I was doing everything normally. The psychologist analyzed me, and the dietician gave me instructions to help ease digestion. These options were in the package if you see them earlier. There is quite a bit of indigestion after the surgery, so you have to eat a lot of fiber. The hairdresser came and blow-dried my hair and the dinner from Big Chef which is a nice restaurant in the hospital itself, came shortly after. 

Day of Discharge

After doctors came and checked me and my baby, I was ready to go home with my babies! I got a document from the hospital to register my baby’s birth with. We needed to pay a bit more since we did some tests for the baby. The whole thing was done within 20,0000 Turkish Lira. They also gave me a certificate with my newborn’s feet; so cute!

Registration process

You will need to go to a local Population Registry Office near Belediyesi and register the birth of the baby with the document the hospital provided. You have to do this process within four weeks. Normally, you will need to get an appointment from the website of your chosen office. However, to make an appointment requires your Turkish ID number or your Residency Card number, so if you came to deliver on a touristic visa, you are in big trouble.

We went first with an appointment under the category of “Others” and they told us they can’t do it under that category and we had to come the next day. We explained we could not get an appointment under new birth because of a website bug. Then they said to come without an appointment. When my husband went without an appointment the next day at 9 am, the staff was very rude due to no appointment. He was struggling to explain himself because he doesn’t know Turkish.  The male staff shouted at him in front of everyone as if it is a crime. Another staff felt bad for him and redirected him to another desk.

Someone cannot just hop off the plane, and be fluent in a language right? It needs time and practice. Plus, they made it as though it was our fault somehow that their website was down and not giving appointments. After handling a newborn, and a fresh surgery, you really do not want to deal with this. My husband had that awful experience. But I would really have lost it there though. 

You definitely do not want to deal with this sort of attitude because you want to register a baby’s birth now, do you? They really need to be nice to the people who come for any type of tourism including investors. Turkey let in a lot of Syrian refugees, according to what I heard. If you have something against refugees, then don’t let them in in the first place. It is better instead of requiring to block investors of certain areas or misbehave with just a father who went to register the birth of a baby.

Afterward, another staff dealt with my husband and apologized for that behavior. The staff used Google Translate just like anybody else and gave us the paper. The whole experience was all nice until that rude staff ruined it really. 

Citizenship/ Residency

The baby will only be a Turkish citizen if for some reason the baby is not being able to obtain the citizenship of either parent. It requires documentation proving that. Otherwise, the baby is not eligible for Turkish citizenship. According to Turkish law, the baby gets residency depending on the residency validity of the parents for six months. Within these six months, you have to start the residency application of your baby if you are already a resident. 

Here is my birth journey summed up. If you are pregnant, I wish you all the best for this beautiful journey. Hopefully, all will work out nicely. If you are planning to give birth in Turkey, I hope my experience helps you out. I always read personalized blogs and get useful information. That is why I like to write my stories too.