My expat identity has taken a back seat in my last few posts to the teacher or pregnant woman part of me, but after reading some blog entries from other expats in Brazil I’ve been inspired to finally write a post that has been in the back of my mind for some time.
Coconut Water is officially recommending Dr. Paulo Batistuta for anyone in Vitoria looking for an OBGYN.
While I’ve endorsed several Brazilian food options including açaí and moqueca capixaba, this is Coconut Water’s first official endorsement of a healthcare professional in Brazil and I’m recommending Dr. Batistuta with the same fervor I do a big bowl of açaí.
A fairly common complaint from expats here is that doctors in Brazil don’t really explain things to you. They tell you to get a test and bring them the results. Unless the results require being ordered to get another test or bypass surgery, that’s all you’ll hear about them. Another complaint specific to women in the process of childbearing is that doctors here in Brazil prefer doing c-sections to pretty much anything else. (I’d believe even more than sex given the rate at which they are performed here.) Some private hospitals in Brazil have c-section rates as high as 90%.
Dr. Batistuta (Dr. Paulo here in Brazil where they use first names) defies both of these stereotypes.
Personal anecdote. After an early ultrasound, I noticed there was one item that had an abnormal reading, specifically low blood flow in the left uterine artery. When we took the results to Dr. Batistuta, I asked about it and Dr. Batistuta picked up a pen and immediately began sketching a uterus and arteries. He explained what the test measured and what the result meant. He even sketched out exactly where the placenta was attached in my uterus. You know, the more information the better. He assured us that this wasn’t a problem given the normal results for everything else and we’d check it again at the next ultrasound. He was right. Everything was normal at the next ultrasound.
Dr. Batistuta never rushes us out the door. I’ll pull out a list of questions. He’ll happily answer everyone, giving me cards, books, even DVDs that will provide further information. While I’m in the bathroom changing I can hear him and my husband chatting away about upgrading their computers’ operating systems. We were in his office for almost an hour during our last visit.
As for c-sections, Dr. Batistuta is one of the leading voices in Brazil for natural childbirth. If you speak Portuguese you can watch him being interviewed on youtube. While he will state point blank he believes the best birth for the mother and baby is one with no unnecessary medical intervention, he has also told me that ultimately the doctors and staff are there to support me and what I want. If I ask for drugs, they will give me drugs.
I should mention cost. One of the great things about Vitoria is that you can get great medical care (private) for half the cost of what you’d pay in Rio or Sao Paulo. For an office visit, Dr. Batistuta charges BR$200 ($118). We pay this out of pocket at the visit and send a receipt to our insurance company for reimbursement. For the actual birth, Dr. Batistuta is charging BR$4.000 ($2,353). Again, we’ll pay and get reimbursed later. (Once the whole birthing process is said and done, I’ll do a summary of all medical expenses for giving birth in Vitoria.)
Finally, the language issue. Our visits are conducted exclusively in Portuguese but when I have to use an English phrase Dr. Batistuta understands. (I suspect he is modest about his level of English and understands way more English than he lets on.) Fortunately, my husband attends every visit and supplements my intermediate Portuguese with his native tongue thus preventing any serious misunderstandings. I can’t say for sure how it would go if you don’t speak any Portuguese. I think everyone could muddle through but it is important to know that Vitoria is a much smaller city than Rio, Sao Paulo or Belo Horizonte and English speaking professionals are in much shorter supply here.
If you are an expat in Vitoria looking for an OBGYN, I strongly recommend Dr. Batistuta. He talks to his patients as intellectual equals. He supports natural birth and medical intervention only when necessary. He understands some English and is very patient when listening to bad Portuguese. You can find his profile and contact info with the CECON medical group.
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