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Our First Pregnancy Doctor Experience in Morocco

In America, if you’re looking for a new doctor, you either go to Google, call your insurance provider for a recommendation, or consult family and friends for a referral. After you’ve found your prospective physician you then proceed to call the doctors office, a nurse answers, and you schedule an appointment.

You usually get a call from the nurse a day before your appointment to remind you of the time and location of your upcoming visit.

In Morocco, you go to the pharmacist and ask for a recommendation or wander the streets looking for signs on the sides of buildings listing the doctor’s name and specialty. You walk in and you wait to see the doctor.

No records. No insurance. No paperwork. No medical history. Nada.

At around 6 weeks pregnant we decided to find an OB/GYN (baby doctor) in Tetouan.

We were lucky because Zouhair was able to find a forum at this website anaqamaghribia in Arabic of women asking for baby doctor’s in Tetouan and a specific doctor was mentioned multiple times with good reviews, so we decided to go see him.

We will call this doctor, Dr. 1, because he was the first doctor we visited.

If you’re interested in the name of this doctor feel free to message us and we will share.

On June 6, 2016 we went to the hospital that was affiliated with Dr. 1 and we were directed to the delivery ward of the hospital and we luckily crossed paths with Dr. 1.

We told him we were pregnant and interested in him being our doctor. He told us his location and that he would be heading there soon.

We got in a taxi and headed to the office. No appointment necessary, of course.

The office is inside of an apartment building, as are most Moroccan doctor’s offices, and it’s on the third-ish floor, very fun for the very pregnant women to walk up stairs. Get the pregnancy blood pumping.

On the outside of the door is a doorbell that you ring for the staff to unlock the door. We enter and, as always, are stared at by everyone for looking like foreigners, especially me.

There was a nurse at the front desk and she seemed to know who we were. How? Probably because the doctor warned her that we (the new foreign-looking couple) were coming.

She told Zouhair that we would be with the doctor soon and to wait a few moments.

The office was packed full and instead of sitting uncomfortably squished between a bunch of pregnant Moroccan women, we chose to stand in the hall.

We waited about 45 minutes and we met Dr. 1.

He spoke a tiny bit of English, which made me very happy, but the majority of the conversation was between Zouhair and the Dr.

About one minute into the conversation I was motioned to enter another room to have an ultrasound. This is very different than in the US.

First off, my blood pressure wasn’t taken, my urine wasn’t sampled to confirm my pregnancy, my weight wasn’t measured, and my temperature wasn’t checked. Nothing was recorded and it’s also not common to have an ultrasound so early.

We entered the small room with the outdated ultrasound machine with no lights on other than from the window. I lay down on the bed and Dr. 1 starts covering my belly in jelly and moving the monitor around my (at the time) flat stomach.

I saw my little peena peena for the first time! I was unbelievably excited and mesmerized! We even heard the heartbeat! I couldn’t believe it.

All of the conversation was in Arabic, so I was even more surprised by everything with no warning or heads up that “hey, you’re going to hear the heartbeat, Hannah!”

I was thrilled and I easily forgot that none of the typical US medical protocols were performed until after we left the office.

We were given a vitamin to start off with (Yofolvit) that only has folic acid, vitamin B12, and iodine, again, a lot more different than a US prenatal vitamin, which has at least triple the amount of vitamins and minerals, which put me off a bit.

Dr. 1 gave us a little paper folder and stapled a small ultrasound photo to the inside and sent us on our way.

The cost of the visit was $25 (250 MAD) and we didn’t/don’t have insurance, so we paid the very friendly front-desk nurse and left with big smiles as the news of our new little baby was in fact very real!

Overall, we learned that if you want your weight to be measured, ASK. If you want your blood pressure taken, ASK. If you want anything from your doctor that isn't already offered, just ask them. We weren't satisfied with the Yolfolvit vitamin, so we asked and he gave us a free sample of another prenatal vitamin and we have taken it since.

Our experiences fluctuate as we progress in our pregnancy. We meet Dr. 2 and are very unhappy and start to feel hopeless about finding a doctor we both are truly comfortable and compatible with. Follow along in our blogs to come and learn why we went back to Dr. 1.

***

I had my first baby last year and currently expecting number 2. It was a confusing experience because I come from the UK which is a midwife based system.
I live in Rabat and I found my OB/GYN by asking on the English speak women of rabat group on facebook and asking friends. Overall it was a reasonable experience pregnancy through to birth.
I also had a scan to confirm pregnancy, I think they assume you already have done the tests so they confirm by doing a scan so they can date and rule out an ectopic pregnancy.
As soon as I discovered I was pregnant I started taking prenatal vitamins. My dr was happy with this but also added folic acid, B12, iron and the occasional course of magnesium. They follow the French method here, in France they don't take the broad spectrum of prenatal vitamins, just the folic acid and B12.
At every appointment they measured my blood pressure, checked my weight and I was examined. I usually had some type of blood test or urine test to do prior to the appointment and the laboratoire.
You tend to have a lot more scans, you can decline them but just check out which are considered standard practice in your country, like the anatomy scan for example.
I was annoyed that the appointment time was never respected at my last dr office, waiting 2 hrs to see your dr is pretty annoying, more so when you're 8 months pregnant. This seems to be common practice here, they give everyone the same time and it's first come first serve.
When it comes to delivery you will give birth in the clinic that your dr works in so you should also factor that in when you select your dr. Check out the clinics ask around for experiences.
They are very into c-sections here so don't let them push you into one unless it is medically necessary. It you are having a vaginal birth I was advised to labor at home for as long as possible. This is because they are less likely to intervene or make you lay in a bed, which not necessary the best position to labour in.
The best advice I can offer you is to 1. Find a dr you like. 2. Accept the fact that you are in a different country with different practices and go with the flow. Of course you should stand up for what you want or fight what you think is wrong, but if you are more accepting of circumstances the whole process will be much less stressful.
If you want to ask me anything please send me a private message. I can recommend some groups to you that will help you out.

Thank you for your response, Jemm. I also found some helpful tips from Facebook forums for English-speaking women in Tetouan and Tangier. Luckily, a woman reached out to me and recommended a doctor in Tangier that she worked with for her pregnancy and birth. I visited this doctor last week and she is fantastic, professional, and I feel very comfortable with her. I think finding doctors in the smaller cities of Morocco is a little more difficult than in the bigger cities and can feel a little overwhelming.
I'm happy to hear you had a positive birth experience in Rabat!

Alhamdulillah!

Zouhair and I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to a fantastic baby doctor, OB/GYN through the use of social media.

Expat.com is a website I registered with to speak with other expats and read forums to learn more about the country of Morocco through the experiences of other Morocco-based expats.

I came across a thread titled, “Rules for Birth in Morocco.” I proceeded to read every word within the post and followed the read with posting a question about OB/GYNs and if anyone had any recommendations for the Tetouan area.

Two lovely women replied with very thorough responses and I couldn’t be more grateful for their input.

One woman recommended I search for the group “Positive Birth Morocco” as well as the group “American and English Speaking Women in Morocco” and suggested I search for a Tetouan-specific page for English-speakers, too.

Within seconds of reading her reply I searched the groups and asked to become a member of both groups and successfully found the page “English Speaking Ladies of the Tetouan-opolis” as well as “English Speaking Women in Tangier/Tetouan Region.”

I cannot express how much these groups have helped me in our pregnancy journey since being accepted into the pages.

The women within these pages will respond to your questions thoroughly and will offer more advice than you could have ever hoped for.

A woman specifically reached out to me from Tangier. She sent me a direct message through Facebook after seeing one of my posts on the group pages and offered to help me in any way she could and to not hesitate to come to her with any questions as she had just had a baby girl a few weeks prior in Tangier.

We spoke to each other quite often and one of the first things she suggested to me was her OB/GYN in Tangier. She raved about her experience with this doctor and that she felt very cared and even pampered by the staff during her birth.

Zouhair and I made an appointment, which even making an appointment made us feel optimistic, as the doctors we experienced in the past didn’t take appointments.

The time came for our appointment and we couldn’t be happier with our experience. The doctor in Tangier is professional, takes her time to get to know you (even with the language barrier), and it is obvious she takes pride in her work and takes each patient and case seriously.

Our appointment took around an hour, which most likely equated to the combined time of our past doctor appointments from weeks 6 to 25.  The office was very clean and the ultrasound machine recorded in 3D and 4D, which was a wonderful surprise for both Zouhair and I. There was even an HD TV on the wall facing adjacent from the ultrasound machine for the expectant mothers to watch the ultrasound process without cranking their neck around to watch on the ultrasound machine screen.

Zouhair and I watched our little guy on the screen and he translated to me anything the doctor said, which, Alhamdulillah, everything was fine. His organs, hands, feet, eyes, and little heartbeat are all developing great and how they should be!

Zouhair and I both are truly grateful for the support and advice we have received from everyone throughout our pregnancy.

Coming from America, I have different expectations about what sort of care I would like to receive and although my expectations do not always translate when I am in Morocco, I never forget that I am indeed in a different country. I’m in a different continent. Many things are going to be different and in many ways I like these differences.

The importance lies with comfort and trust with the physician, especially considering that pregnancy and birthing a baby is something that cannot be planned for 100%. The physician/patient relationship is important no matter the difference in language, the costs for care, or the location within this world.

It’s absolutely beautiful how much people can help each other Mashallah. If you ever find yourself in a situation that seems there’s no option that is good or enough for you, just keep looking. Keep searching, and most importantly ask for help! It seems simple, but sometimes I find myself forgetting that this world is full of people who have had their own unique experiences and some of these people are very willing and excited to share and help others as much as they can.

We’re not alone in this world and helping each other as the family that we are will help make this life much easier. You will most likely have many new friends and relationships than you did before, too. <3

©2016 Rehazu.com

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