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Prenatal Visits while abroad in Budapest

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The first order of business upon arrival in Budapest (Wade had already taken care of an apartment and food) was to find an ob-gyn doctor for our first prenatal visit. I did a quick google search on the internet, which was mostly unhelpful since all the websites were in Hungarian.

I was especially nervous about this doctor visit, and I wanted someone I could feel like I might be able to trust. So I did something very uncharacteristic and I went on the US Embassy website which contains a list of doctors that are at least fluent in English. I called around and went with the cheapest of the list, Health Guard Hungary. I know that these doctors cater to nervous North Americans who are on vacation, and therefore charge an outrageous amount of money compared with a local hospital.

I’m sure that I would not use this type of medical service while abroad again, but, at the time, it felt like a safe decision.

Prenatal visit in Budapest

I was nervous.

Seriously nervous.

A million worries — rational and not — went through my head: What if I wasn’t really pregnant? What about those few beers I had before I knew? What if he found something wrong with the baby? And on and on.

Wade and I left two hours early to walk across Budapest to the doctor’s office. All I had was an address and Wade’s vague reassurance that he knew right where that was. He didn’t. We knew it was in a complex within a couple block radius, so in we went to each building saying “Health Guard? Doctor?”

We somehow found it on the third try.

The doctor was nice, after a quick introduction he went right into the exam. “Well, you’re definitely pregnant,” he said.

I shot a huge grin at Wade.

Then we followed the doctor to the next room for an ultrasound to help date the pregnancy. “Almost seven weeks,” he confirmed.

I watched Wade’s eyes grow big and he asked the doctor to turn the screen so I could see the first ultrasound image of our little baby.

“There’s the heartbeat,” the doctor told us, and I heard the most amazing sound of my life.

Our doctor in Hungary asked us to come to his regular workplace at the University Hospital the following week for a more detailed ultrasound and routine blood testing. We found it easily and walked in to one of the most unbelievable sights of my life.

I have seen many amazing things in my travels through Central America, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and India, but nothing like the waiting room of the University Hospital in Budapest. There was a line of about 30 women waiting to be seen by a doctor who were all about nine months pregnant. If you ever want to scare a first time mother to be, barely in her second month of pregnancy, show her a room of women so ready to give birth you could almost see them in labor.

We showed the business card of the doctor to the man at the front desk, and we were quickly whisked in front of the line, and into the office. One of the things about being a foreigner in a hospital (and paying extra) is that you receive special treatment, so the doctor stayed with us through all of the testing, led us to the different labs, and translated whatever we needed.

The blood tests were routine and boring.

Wade always freaks out about the cleanliness of the nurses whenever in a medical setting, and this nurse looked a little taken aback when he made her wear surgical gloves even though she wasn’t touching my blood and barely even touched my skin.

But what we really wanted to see was the detailed ultrasound. This time they could turn the screen around so I got to see my baby. She was beautiful. A big circle of a head and a little oval of a body. I was ecstatic to see that everything was normal and healthy.

Wade and I walked back to the little apartment in Budapest after the prenatal visit holding hands and grinning. There really was a little baby in that belly.

There is a baby in there

Read Wade’s side of the story at, Journey into Fatherhood.

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Filed under: Health, Pregnancy, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China