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Maternity

Being Pregnant in Switzerland

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Being Pregnant in Switzerland

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It’s been on my mind to share with you all about what it’s been like being pregnant in Switzerland. I’ve waited till now - the start of my 39th week to write it so I had a good idea of the whole journey. I will write about the birth experience (including the final week/s of pregnancy and how that was managed) separately so the post isn’t too long. Due to many friends and family giving birth in Australia, i know a little bit about what is normal there and being able to compare the experience with Switzerland, although it is important to note that my experience here may not be (and most likely isn’t) typical of all pregnancies here in Switzerland either. Anyone’s care here is largely dependent on the gynaecologist you choose to see. So let me jump in to the biggest things i learned, loved and hated about being pregnant in Switzerland.

How much you pay/How much is covered

In Switzerland, it is compulsory to have basic health insurance cover and its not very cheap! I’m not going to go into all the details of how health insurance works here, but here’s a small overview: We pay roughly CHF 800 a month as a couple for basic health insurance. For that, you receive care thats a little better than Australia’s free public health service. In addition to our monthly fee, we still have to pay our franchise (like an excess) - so we pay the first CHF2500 per year of all medical bills. After that, we only pay 10%.

For the first 13 weeks of pregnancy you are considered ‘ill’ which means all the bills are treated as such and dealt with normally through the insurance. From 13 weeks to birth you are considered pregnant and pretty much everything pregnancy related is 100% covered and you don’t have to pay the excess either. We were pleasantly surprised by this and its been a huge financial relief as there are so many appointments you need to go to plus all the unexpected appointments that pop up too, and I don’t know whether you’ve heard but Switzerland is expensive! haha. Its kind of been fun seeing all the expensive medical bills come in and zeroed out - Thank goodness!!

Thankfully we didn’t have any complications or anything go wrong in the first 13 weeks, but I feel for women who miscarry and perhaps need a D&C and then also have to pay for their surgery on top of it all because as per the health system you’re ill not pregnant! I really believe if it is pregnancy related - it should be covered regardless of how many weeks you are.

Routine Scans and Appointments

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Here in Switzerland, your pregnancy is managed by your own ob/gyn of your choosing which you go back and see throughout the whole pregnancy. I could be wrong, but this seems to be opposed to being managed largely by your General Practitioner in Australia and only occasionally seeing an obstetrician at milestone dates. I chose an ob/gyn based on some recommendations on facebook, however I wish I would have settled with a gynaecologist before hand and got to know the style of my doctor as I have never really felt 100% happy with my choice (more on that later), but felt like it would be too much trouble to change part way through.

I saw my obstetrician, every 3-4 weeks and at each appointment I had blood drawn, urine sample, weight check, blood pressure check and a growth scan by ultrasound. This is in addition to a short chat with the ob/gyn about any concerns either one of us had. I loved that everything was done in one building and directly before my appointment. Unlike Australia where your blood samples and ultrasounds are usually done somewhere other than your appointment and not likely on the same day either!

I know in Australia, they only do around 3 ultrasound growth scans over the entire pregnancy and initially, i thought the Swiss way of an ultrasound every 3-4 weeks was good. Why wouldn’t i want to see my baby on the screen each month and make sure everything is on track? Well… my baby has always measured on the smaller side pretty much the whole way through the pregnancy. I know that ultrasounds can be slightly inaccurate too. However all these scans just caused a whole bunch of stress that really wasn’t necessary. My doctor became concerned at my baby’s size, and also at her head circumference so we were referred a couple of times to a specialist for more ultrasounds (on slightly more accurate equipment) which showed she was small, yes, but everything was completely fine. This period felt like a rollercoaster of worry and relief and it really made me question what the point of all these ‘extra’ ultrasounds were - does micro monitoring these babies really benefit the health of the pregnancy, or just cause undue worry? Do they pick up more abnormalities in Switzerland than Australia?

You and your baby’s stats are printed on a ‘Mutterpass’ which you continually get updated at each appointment and take home with you and take to the hospital or to any health care provider that needed to see it. I actually loved this sheet of paper. I felt like it was a great overview of how it was all tracking, the information was transparent and I could refer back to it anytime i wanted rather than it all kept for the doctors only.

Patient Treatment

Overall, the care in Switzerland is at a very high standard - Doctors are well educated and knowledgeable - all the tests were completed quickly and easily and I was updated on results very quickly too. I do believe however that bedside manner and how patients are listened to and spoken to was not so great. Now, I know this is not everyone’s experience here. My ob/gyn came highly recommended by many and I felt she was professional and met my needs medically 90% of the time. Perhaps this was a cultural thing (most likely i think) but i really clashed with my doctor. She is definitely more serious and blunt and maybe its because i’m Australian, but i prefer things a little friendlier. One thing i had to get used to was when she greeted me into the room and asked ‘How are you?’, the answer was carefully written down in my notes and not mentioned again. The stock standard answer for ‘How are you?’ is always ‘good’! I didn’t know I had to pour out my soul to her as I entered the room!

I also got very little information on my first appointment with her back when i was 7 weeks pregnant - she briefly touched on some foods to avoid - raw fish/meat, unpasteurised cheese - and gave me a booklet that was in German which was sort of like a handbook about pregnancy. Needless to say, i didn’t read the book and was left with a lot of questions, not only general questions on pregnancy, but also the process in Switzerland. What could I expect from her, how many appointments will I have, who do I call if I have problems during the pregnancy? I felt like a lot was missed out and i learnt more from support groups online, and through books than I did through my own doctor. I realised they are not in the habit of telling you anymore than you need to know. Results sent through to my doctor weren’t really elaborated on apart from a ‘yes its okay’ - instead, if a copy was sent to me, i would be googling translations to really understand what was tested and what my results meant. For anyone going through the same experience - i 100% recommend purchasing Emily Oster’s book ‘Expecting Better’. She compiles all the information women need to know about what to eat, the risks of various foods and tests, what tests are necessary and all the facts and statistics directly from the research studies with no spin! It really gave me peace of mind and confident in the decisions I was making for myself.

It’s a sad thing to say, but I often left my appointments feeling dumb, depressed or worried. My questions were often met with replies that made me feel silly for asking, I was unnecessarily worried about potential risks that hadn’t even happened or been confirmed yet, and any concerns of pain I had wasn’t really questioned and just brushed off as ‘normal’ which may have been true but i felt like they weren’t investigated adequately. Immediately after failing my gestational diabetes glucose test, I was told I would most likely have to be on insulin at some point in the pregnancy and ‘have’ to go to the main hospital for birth (which was not the hospital I preferred) - Both of these facts turned out not to be true as my blood sugar levels have been in the right ranges since and my choice in hospital is available and safe for me to be at. In hindsight, i wish I changed doctor from the beginning, however i continually doubted my own feelings and that maybe i just ‘took it the wrong way’. I had a much better experience with the specialist doctor I saw at regular intervals - i guess being a specialist and having to give a range of good and bad news, her bedside manner is a little more developed and crucial for the wellbeing of her patients.

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All in all…

I sit here now, at the tail-end of my pregnancy pretty happy with my journey and experience. Despite jumping through all the hoops they threw at me, my pregnancy had no complications, my baby is healthy according to all their measurements and tests and I feel really good heading into this birth. I have learnt so much through this journey though- most importantly to trust myself and my body. I have learnt that no one cares as much about your own body and health than you and you need to advocate for yourself, realise that while doctors are incredibly knowledgeable, you also need to understand what is happening and it needs to feel right for you. There is so much information out there and I encourage you to speak to a wide variety of people, read books, hear other peoples experience and educate yourself - knowledge really is power and it gives you the confidence to ask more questions and take ownership over your health and care.

I also learnt to relinquish a little control in some aspects (which is big for me!) and have worked hard to get my head in a good, happy place. Naturally, i haven’t felt like this all the time, and i’m sure i’ll still have doubts in the final week or so - but i feel like i’ve grown as a person. Perhaps I needed to go through this - to become a better human, woman and mother.

After the birth i’ll discuss all the ways i prepared for the delivery - antenatal classes, books i read, podcasts i listened to, my experience in hiring and doula, and hypnobirthing!

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Susanne + Philippe Maternity | Basel Photographer

Susanne + Philippe are new in our apartment building and hosted an apero for their friends and tenants of our apartment building to get to know us! When I found out she was pregnant and has pretty much the same name, I took it as a sign that I should go! SO glad I did because not only are they lovely, but I also got to know quite a few others from the apartment building too! Was a really fun night!

Another pleasant surprise is that they were wanting some maternity pictures which I was more than happy to do for them. We split the shoot between indoor and outdoor and I think it gave them some great variety - we got the classic maternity portraits as well as some lifestyle shots inside the home. We also had such nice weather which was lucky because rain had become a familiar friend at that point.

I’m so looking forward to capturing their newborn soon! Our little ones will be around a month apart so it will be baby mania soon! These are my favourites from the session:

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Carla's Dreamy Maternity Shoot - Basel Photographer

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Carla's Dreamy Maternity Shoot - Basel Photographer

Carla has a talent for creating visual feasts for the eyes - with flowers, invitations and styling - so i was absolutely ecstatic when she asked me to take some pictures of her to remember her pregnancy. I love that we have the same taste in style and picture taking and I think we really make a good team working together to create some beautiful images. So its no surprise i absolutely adore these photos - they’re light, soft, feminine and oh so dreamy.

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with beautiful maternity pictures - as they really do speak to how incredible the journey is. How a woman’s body can nurture a tiny cell by growing a whole new organ to sustain and give energy and love to grow a whole new person. However, unlike the photos, the whole pregnancy journey is not all pretty dresses, perfect hair and flowers - its an up and down mix of emotions, lack of comfort, a whole host of weird body changes and a flurry of medical appointments but it’s really not as fun to look at those pictures! haha. While i whole-heartedly believe in, and love creating these maternity pictures (every pregnant woman needs to bask in the beauty of her body’s capabilities), I need to remind every pregnant woman out there feeling ‘less than’ (me, right now!) - that all pregnant women feel the lows and the highs. We need to sit with those lows (and know we have the strength to get through them) but we should damn-well celebrate those highs and thats what i try and do with maternity shoots!

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Hello 2019!

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Hello 2019!

I know we’re already over 2 weeks into the new year but i’ve been taking things at a leisurely pace. It’s been a pretty good start to the New Year. On January 1st, I told the world (or maybe just my followers) that i’m pregnant. I’m nearly half way now and it’s kind of scary how fast the time goes. I was pretty sick in the 1st trimester but now that it’s calmed down i can enjoy it a bit more - Like seeing the baby wave to us on the ultrasound, the little bubble kicks i’m feeling and browsing the internet for cute little clothes and nursery items. I know that soon my tummy will grow uncomfortably big so i’m trying to enjoy the now while things are great.

We had an awesome session with Amanda Joy Photography (fellow Basel Photographer - Thank you Amanda!) at the christmas markets. I used these pictures to give to our family’s and announce our pregnancy. Here are my faves:


I’ve had time to organise our home a bit (Marie Kondo anyone!?) and set some goals for the year - even though that’s probably naive given we will be first time parents and people always underestimate the challenges that will bring. But all in all, I’m feeling good about 2019.

Photography-wise, I’m hoping to explore video - taking on a few clients at a discounted rate while I build my portfolio. I want my sessions to really focus in on family and motherhood and how precious and fleeting time can feel. I want to freeze time for you so instead of saying ‘don’t grow up’ to your littlies, you can continue to enjoy every day knowing you’ve captured this time in their (and your) life. Feeling free to revisit these beautiful memories any time you want. If you’re interested in a family film or photography. Please get in touch, I’d love to work with you!

I’ll be blogging a little more about my own journey to motherhood, some material things like the ultra cute baby items and some more reflective thoughts on this shift in my life. Having a baby is this weird mixture of feeling terrified and excited but for me, an overwhelming sense of being ready for this new chapter. I know i’m not the first person to have a baby, but I feel this is a great place to share what i’m learning along this road. So stay tuned if you want, and if you’re not interested, it’s okay for you to just scroll by!

I hope you all have a wonderful 2019 and I hope you are all taking the time to capture your life so it won’t forgotten! Treasure the good times.


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Documenting your life: Part 2

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Documenting your life: Part 2

Here we are on Part 2 of Documenting your life and today I wanted to talk about a great way to prioritise this (and make it easier on yourself) to capture your life regularly.  If you missed Part 1 about how to flex your beauty seeking muscle - you can read it here

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A great way to make sure you're capturing your life from year to year is to create family (or couple) traditions.  Make something fun that you do every year - it could be camping, an annual all-out big family picnic, taking your family to the mountains, a board-game night, making a big deal over the first day of school, or taking on the local festival as a family.  Whatever it is - make it fun, make it special and capture it.  Another option is to have the tradition BE the photoshoot.  Every Springtime, you could do a professional photoshoot and hold it in a different location - a city adventure, amongst the springtime blossoms, or bundled up for an in-home session!

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You could make a small album of this special day every year.  How cool will it be to look back on in 5, 10 years time - memorialising this same event every year - seeing how you've changed, how much you've grown with the same constant theme running through it (your tradition).  

Creating family traditions makes time for the important things in life - time with your loved ones!!  I remember one of my close friends used to have one Friday night a month where they would have a 'family night' where they used to do all sorts of activities together - from board games, to going to the cinemas, to a dinner cooked by every one together.  No matter what, they all had to be there (they were older kids).  They all looked forward to it too, it wasn't a chore.  I was a little disappointed we didn't have something similar in our family at the time, but I vowed I would create something similar in my  own family one day.  

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Do you have any family traditions?  Would love to hear them in the comments below!

I am now available for Spring Family sessions in Switzerland!  Get in touch if you want me to capture your first family tradition!

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 Zhanna - Pregnancy Announcement

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 Zhanna - Pregnancy Announcement

A few days ago, I went to visit my friend Zhanna (of Nomadic June Photography) in the South of Switzerland - I wanted to get creative and try out my new camera so we did a mini shoot in her home. What made it even sweeter is the fact that she's 4 months pregnant with her first child so we got to incorporate some beautiful maternity photos!  I love everything about these pictures... the tones, her gorgeous home, the cotton flowers and her cosy outfits. 

In 2018, this is the direction i'll be taking my photography and i'm excited to start offering in-home sessions just like this.  If you're interested in a shoot like this for yourself - get in touch!

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What to expect when you're expecting

Well, you can't control the weather!  Last weekend was an example of that - we wanted to take some beautiful outdoor maternity photos, but the strong winds, rain, cold temperatures (...and did i mention wind?) put a dampener on things. We spent about 5 minutes along the foreshore before we decided to bow out (not-so-gracefully).   My poor sister - who just had her hair and makeup done, looking like a glamazon and to have it all blown away in the wind.  

Nevertheless, we headed back to my house where I set up a pretty little corner for some shots.  Considering with the conditions we dealt with, I still love these shots.  <3

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Maternity Boudoir

This beautiful lady, Sarah is expecting a baby girl shortly.  I photographed her as part of my boudoir marathon at the ultra luxurious COMO the Treasury (amazing, by the way).  What a privilege, not only is she gorgeous, but a wonderful person and mum in need of a bit of pampering and relaxation.  

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