VICENZA, Italy - While bringing a child into the world is a different experience for every woman and baby, the methods and technology available in the Vicenza area are at the same standard of care as hospitals in the United States.

The local Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinic, a host nation facility in the Vicenza community, offers expectant mothers personalized prenatal care with an English speaking all-female care team. There, mothers receive ultrasounds and prenatal education just like in the United States, with the added benefit of being able to call and speak to the physician with any concerns.

To begin prenatal care, patients should visit their Primary Care Manager to get a referral to the host nation OBGYN Clinic to receive prenatal care for the duration of their pregnancy. When the big day comes, patients go to the host nation healthcare facility, San Bortolo Hospital, located in Vicenza.

"San Bortolo Hospital delivers approximately 3,000 babies a year with full-time, in-house neonatal and obstetrical teams, and their team is very well equipped for any emergency situation, should the need arise. They also offer epidurals and other pain control options much like in the United States, with English-speaking liaisons available 24/7 to assist with communication - though many of the doctors also speak English," said Dr. Steven Novek, San Bortolo Liaison Supervisor, U.S. Army Health Center-Vicenza.

Having a baby in Italy is not something every American can claim, but that opportunity is experienced by about 20 women a month from the U.S. Army Garrison Italy community at the San Bortolo Hospital.

While the USAHC-Vicenza does not offer obstetrical care or labor and delivery, they do offer a Childbirth Bootcamp on a monthly basis on Caserma Ederle.

"This introduction program offers a glimpse of what to expect, the do's and don'ts while pregnant, stages and phases of labor, and pain management techniques," said Marianna Dobbins, maternal health educator, USAHC-Vicenza.

Dobbins said she is confident that women who take the Childbirth Bootcamp are well equipped to have the best experience possible at San Bortolo Hospital.

"I like to remind patients that the main language at San Bortolo is Italian, so there may be times when the care team talks among themselves in Italian," said Dobbins. "That is why we have the English-speaking liaisons at the hospital 24/7, to help with any concerns or communication needs during the mother-and-baby's stay."

Once mother and child are discharged from San Bortolo, they are able to receive continuing care at the health center on Caserma Ederle.

Like most experiences with a new culture, understanding and being prepared for possible language and cultural differences up front empowers patients to make their experience the best possible. Learning the basics of labor and delivery and a few key words in Italian will go a long way in providing a less stressful and more relaxed delivery.

Childbirth Bootcamp is offered the third Wednesday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. in the second floor training classroom at health center. Spouses and support people are encouraged to attend this class together with the pregnant mother during the third trimester of the pregnancy. Registration for the Childbirth Bootcamp is recommended by calling and leaving a voicemail at 0444-61-9645.