We Had a Baby in a Country With Universal Healthcare. Here’s What Happened

Tommy Mulvoy
5 min readMar 7, 2019

One of the supposed joys of having a baby in Switzerland is the eight free visits from a midwife during the first few weeks after your baby arrives home. Although I babysat every weekend during high school, I hadn’t changed a diaper in almost 20 years. Two months prior to our due date, I learned that my wife, Vicky, hadn’t changed a diaper in her entire life. After our midwife’s first visit, we quickly realized that diaper changing was the least of our worries.

Throughout Vicky’s pregnancy, a growing list of anxieties was exchanged across the dinner table: How do we bathe a baby? How many layers of clothing does a baby need to wear in the house? When can we start bottle feeding? When can we take a baby outside? And, can a baby really sleep in the cardboard box that Vicky purchased on the internet? As first-time parents, the thought of having a professional come to our home and answer these questions was reassuring.

This story was submitted by a Fatherly reader. Opinions expressed in the story do not reflect the opinions of Fatherly as a publication. The fact that we’re printing the story does, however, reflect a belief that it is an interesting and worthwhile read.

Having grown up in the U.S., I didn’t even know what a midwife was until Vicky and I went to a two-day birth primer — also free — at the hospital where our baby was to be born. The midwife teaching the course was pleasant enough, but we weren’t enamored by her responses to our countless questions. When we asked how soon we should go to the hospital after contractions started, she shrugged and replied something along the lines of, “Oh, you will know. But don’t rush, just take a bath.”

Vicky didn’t welcome these vague answers, and after two days of similar responses to our queries, we still hadn’t learned much more than the fact that this particular midwife had a thing for baths prior to labor and that during contractions, I should rub Vicky’s back while she rolled on a therapy ball. When I suggested a bath to Vicky after she woke me up at 3 a.m. on the day our son would be born, she scowled at me. And when I placed my hand on her back during a particular painful contraction later that morning in the hospital, she growled, “Don’t touch me.”

Unbeknownst to me, a midwife, not a doctor, would be delivering our baby. During the last hour of labor, a doctor arrived because our baby’s heart rate dropped, but…

Tommy Mulvoy