Living in New Zealand: A Health Statistics Comparison

I considered writing a “Living in New Zealand: Renting” post today, but decided against it after last week’s whining :-)

Instead, I’m going to share what I consider to be some interesting, thought-provoking health statistics for both the United States (where I’m originally from) and for New Zealand.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for why I selected the ones that I did – they’re iteresting to me because of what I do professionally, and thought-provoking for a number of reasons.  You’ll see what I mean.

Life Expectancy at Birth…

  • New Zealand: 79 (males), 83 (females)
  • United States: 76 (males), 81 (females)

Probability of Dying Under the Age of 5 (per 1,000 live births)…

  • New Zealand: 6
  • United States: 8

Probability of Dying Between Ages 15 – 60 (per 1,000 population)…

  • New Zealand: 86 (males), 57 (females)
  • United States: 134 (males), 78 (females)

Maternal Mortality Rates per 100,000 live births…

  • New Zealand: 8.5
  • United States: 16.7

Child Maltreatment Deaths per 100,000…

  • New Zealand: 1.2 (tied for #3 in the world)
  • United States: 2.2 (tied for #1 in the world)

Cancer Deaths per 100,000…

  • New Zealand: 327.3
  • United States: 321.9

Heart Disease Deaths per 100,000…

  • New Zealand: 127.3
  • United States: 106.5

Motor Vehicle Deaths per 100,000…

  • New Zealand: 14
  • United States: 15.5

Suicides per 100,000…

  • New Zealand: 3.8
  • United States: 4.5

Smoking Prevalence…

  • New Zealand: 23.7% (males), 22.2% (females)
  • United States: 24.1% (males), 19.2% (females)

Percent of Population that is Obese…

  • New Zealand: 20.9%
  • United States: 30.6%

Total Expenditure on Health Per Capita (Intl $)…

  • New Zealand: $2,667
  • United States: $7,410

Total Expenditure on Health as % of GDP…

  • New Zealand: 9.7
  • United States: 16.2

Nurses per 1,000…

  • New Zealand: 9.6
  • United States: 8.1

Some of the stats that really stood out to me were:

The high rate of male deaths in the US between ages 15-60 (females aren’t doing so hot, either): I’m curious as to why the rate of male deaths is so high.  I know that men have shorter life expectancies in general, and I have some ideas as to why the US rate might be so high for men in that age bracket in particular, but I’d be interested in learning some more about that number and why it is what it is.

The US maternal mortality rate: This didn’t surprise me, but it’s still ridiculous

The NZ number of child maltreatment deaths: Again, not a huge surprise to me because media here reports on the disproportionate amount of child abuse in NZ, but still discouraging :-/

Cancer Deaths: I was a bit surprised that the numbers were so close

Heart Disease: I’m not informed enough to speculate on why the NZ rate was higher, but I have some theories.

Expenditure on Health per Capita: The US spends more than triple what NZ spends, but our life expectancy is lower.  Obviously throwing money at the problem isn’t working.

….Number of Nurses: I found that stat buried away somewhere and really loved it.  NZ has more nurses per person despite a nursing shortage.  Granted, some areas of healthcare have fewer nurses than others, but overall I’ve been impressed with how well-staffed my department is.

All statistics were gathered from here and from here.

36 1/2 Weeks

I’m so glad that it’s cooling off around here… it means I can wear scarves on a fairly regular basis :-)

Really need to get a bedskirt/dust ruffle for our bed… or learn how to make one that will fit our ridiculously high bed frame.

Side View – took this one the next morning, hence the sleepy look!

I’ve officially started my mat-leave.  I wavered back and forth, talked with Chris about it, and finally decided that it was the right decision.  I haven’t been sleeping or eating well, and I’m still not quite over this cough + cold.  My midwife told me at my last appointment that with the way things were looking, baby boy might come as early as 37 weeks if I didn’t cool it.  So I decided to do just that – whatever can keep him in the cooker longer is fine by me.

I’ve gotten a few things off my checklist:

  • Finished decorating the nursery!
  • Purchased ingredients for freezer meals and got 2 of them knocked out
  • Done with antenatal classes
  • Created a checklist and partially packed the hospital bag

It was nice to finish those 2 meals.  I made a double batch of salsa, then used some of that to make a double batch of taco soup.  I also made Pioneer Woman chicken spaghetti.  I’m planning to make spinach casserole and the filling for chicken enchiladas some other time this week.  All of those things can go in Ziploc bags rather than pans so as to use less space in our little freezer.  I decided to be nice and reserve a big bowl of the soup for Chris’ dinner that night.  I knew he’d be disappointed if he came home, smelled taco soup, and then learned that it was frozen solid.

Speaking of food for Chris, one thing that I forgot to include on the hospital bag checklist was snack food for him.  I remembered to get things for me {the c-section rate is so low in NZ that eating during labor isn’t usually a problem… although I can’t imagine being too hungry once I’m at the point where I need to go to hospital}.  I guess I figured that Chris would fend for himself.  However, if baby boy decides to arrive outside of hospital cafe hours, Chris will be stuck with vending machine fare.  The last thing I want is a husband who’s cranky and hungry while I’m in the middle of labor – the only one allowed to be cranky at that point is me ;-)

You want to know something else?  My mom is coming in less than a month!  I have a great mom {great dad, too} and I can’t wait to see her.  I’m thankful and appreciative of all that she does, and I’m very grateful that she’s willing to travel for 24+ hours, fly halfway around the globe, lug 100 pounds of baggage behind her, and stay with us for 2 weeks.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – she doesn’t know where the airport is here, and we just may not let her leave.  When I told my dad this, he said that he’d come after her, which is really just further incentive to keep her here…!

Have a great week, everyone :-)

Counting Down

4 1/2 weeks to go…

33 days…

Where did the time go?  I have so much to do!

I got an email from one of those “your pregnancy this week…” groups, and it said that if you’re a procrastinator, now’s the time to stop procrastinating and get. things. done.

Great – now I’m getting guilt from my email.

Nursery?  Not finished.

Freezer meals? Not made.

House?  In need of a good cleaning.

Prenatal classes?  Still attending.

Hospital bag?  Not packed.

I’m tired.  Sleep is a distant memory.  I saw my midwife today and she said that I looked the worst that she had ever seen me.  She asked why the heck I was still working, and told me to call off for the rest of the week.  She said that if I wanted to, I could work next week, but no more this week.

So I did.  I felt guilty about it, but the truth is that work has been hard.  I’m officially off the roster and just coming in when I want to, but I feel conflicted.  I feel like I should be there, but also that I should be taking care of myself.  Coming home and seeing bruises on my belly and arms and legs from running around the ER all day makes me feel like I’m not being careful.  Feeling like I’ve gone through a 5 hour hot flash is miserable.  Opening the door from the staff bathroom and seeing a health care assistant nervously standing outside, who then tells me that she “just wanted to make sure I hadn’t passed out in there” is a bit embarrassing.  Having doctors come up to me with cold glasses of water and telling me to sit down and check my blood pressure when I feel like I have a million things to do is exhausting.  It’s also hard when you feel that everyone is working full-stop, but they’re distracted because you apparently look as though you’re about to pass out (There must’ve been 20 people yesterday who asked me, “Are you OK?!”, all with very concerned expressions on their faces.  Some of them were my patients.).

Ugh.

Anyway, I’m glad that I’m not going into work tomorrow.  I need to rest.  I haven’t been able to sleep for more than 2 – 4 hours at a time with anywhere from a 1 – 2 hour awake period in between (this is during the night – I’m usually up all day).  I’ve also had some sad cases at work lately and I haven’t been able to sleep for thinking about them.  And apparently, it shows (as my midwife so kindly informed me).  She reminded me that it’s not just about getting to the birth and getting through the pregnancy.  It’s about being in a healthy state of mind and a healthy physical state for what comes after the pregnancy.  As she put it, “If you gave birth now, or even 2 weeks from now, you would not be ready.”  And she wasn’t talking about my little list of chores – she meant emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  And she was right.  I need to take a step back and relax.

As far as milestones and measurements go, things are OK.  I’m 35 1/2 weeks and measuring 37 cms for fundal height (Rule of thumb is that fundal height – a means of measuring baby’s growth in utero – corresponds roughly with your week of pregnancy.  I think we’re going to have a tall baby!).  I’ve gained 16 pounds, which is on the low end but still within an OK range.  I’ve had several appointments where my weight has stayed exactly the same, and that was the case this week.  Since my fundal height is still increasing, it’s not something I’m worried about.  All it means is that baby is growing and gaining weight, but I’m losing it in other places, so total weight is maintained.

And as far as getting stuff done, there is one very important thing that I can check off my to-do list:

First post-baby bottle of wine?  Purchased!

Have a great week, everyone :-)

28.5 Weeks = Bigger and Better + A Question On Car Seats

I twisted my own arm and took another pregnancy photo to share with all of you:

28.5 Weeks Pregnant

I took this prior to my morning run, er, jog/fast walk. Lookin’ stylish in my maternity tank and runner’s tights, oh yeah.

I’ve gotten most of what we need for baby boy… it’s just not here yet.  I ordered a few things on eBay and these are being shipped to my inlaw’s for Chris to cart back after his trip to the States.  We have several things that we’ve purchased in NZ and I’m excited at how things are coming together in the nursery.  I’m waiting till we hear back about our lease before I start doing any decorating, though.

I’ve been a bit more huffy and puffy and notice that I heat up and sweat more than I’ve ever done in my life, but that’s all part of the process.  No stretch marks, carpal tunnel, or varicosities that I can tell.  Cravings amount to wanting to drink caffeine, which is bizarre because I haven’t had caffeine in over 4 years.  I’m not hungry all the time – I eat breakfast and usually forget about lunch till 2pm rolls around and I wonder why I’m feeling faint.  I need to do better about that.

I can’t believe that I have less than 6 weeks remaining at work.  I mentioned previously that my ER manager will take me off the schedule once I reach 34 weeks.  If want to come in past then, I just need to phone the roster manager and be scheduled as a “bonus” RN.

I finally made a decision on cloth diapers {we’re going with FuzziBunz and BumGenius 4.0 – both one-size that will last from birth to potty training} and got some deals on eBay.  Now I’m trying to figure out car seats.  Which brand?  Which model?  I’d like to get one that’s usable from birth till baby boy is several years old. The most highly rated one seems to be the Britax Marathon 70:

Does anyone out there have suggestions?  Was there a car-seat that you absolutely hated?  Absolutely loved?  I’d appreciate any input you might have.

A Real, Honest-to-Goodness Pregnancy Picture

Alright, alright… I’m doing something that I swore I wouldn’t do: I’m posting a photo of me, pregnant, on my blog.  Ack!  I’m making a face as I type this.  I’ve never been a fan of “belly pics” for two reasons: (1) I hate the phrase “belly pic”, and (2) I don’t like having my photo taken.  But I’ve decided to stop being a cranky-pants and just take the photo already.   That, and my sister Cassie keeps telling me she wants to see the baby bump.

So, here you have me at almost 20 weeks… practically the mid-way point!  And yes, it’s a hot day in January, which is what it would have to be before I posted this.

Yep, that’s me.  In our guest bathroom.  After having just returned from a 4.8 km walk around Newmarket and lunch with a friend in sunny, 75F weather.  Not the best photo, but when the inspiration and mood struck, I figured that I’d better just do it and to heck with the photo quality and my hair.

Oh, I’m filling out one of those pregnancy questionnaires, too.  I’m on a roll today!

How Far Along?

Almost 20 weeks

Baby’s Size?

According to BabyCenter.com, our little one is about 8.5 ounces and is 6 inches long.  Or, according to TheBump.com, baby is roughly the size of a mango.  I saw mangoes at the fruit market today, picked one up, and thought, “Huh, my baby is about this size!”

Weight Gain?

I was almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight at last week’s appointment.  I’m not hungry these days and still have the occasional bout of nausea {with 1 episode of throwing up mid-workout – nice}.  I thought that I was done with that!  Even though I’m about the same weight that I was pre-pregnancy, I’m definitely not the same shape, particularly around the midsection.  That baby is taking up all kinds of space.

Stretch Marks?

Nope, none yet.  I should start looking for stretch mark cream, but I’m still having a hard time finding stuff in New Zealand.  I’ll just use regular lotion in the meantime.

Foods I’m Loving?

Peanut butter on toast with a side of grapes.  I’m just not very hungry.  I think I’d be fine eating one big meal for lunch and nothing more.

Foods I’m Hating?

I’m not hating anything, but I’m not a big fan of avocados, pizza, anything fried {blech!}, or anything that requires heating up my oven.  It’s pretty warm over here, so I’m all for stir-fry, salads, and sandwiches.  And peanut butter toast :-)

Maternity Clothes?

Have ‘em and love ‘em!  Thanks heaps to my sister Valerie for lugging a suitcase-full of them from the States.  And thanks to my mom for sending over some of her own selections for me.  And thanks to my mother-in-law for mailing a few maternity clothes in our Christmas box.  I’ve worn just about everything.  If I get around to it, I’ll do a post on what I’m loving and what I could live without.

Sleep?

Yes, please!  I get up at least once a night, usually more like 3 or 4 times a night.  I have a hard time opening my eyes and am sometimes in the bathroom before I can see where I’m going.  I would sleep for 12 hours straight if I could.

Best Moment This Week?

It’s the best moment each time I feel the baby move, so lots of best moments :-)

Movement?

ALL THE TIME since week 17.  I’ll be lying in bed and feel a “kick, kick”, then roll over and feel a “kick, kick”.  I wake up in the morning and once again it’s “kick, kick”, and when I’m sitting and relaxed or, like right now, typing at my computer, I feel a “kick, kick, kick”.  And they’re all over the map – sometimes on the side, sometimes up high, sometimes down low.  It’s the coolest thing and I can’t wait for all you other first-time mommas to feel it, too :-)  Chris has even been able to feel some of them.  I have a mini-mental pause each time it happens.  Pausing again…

Symptoms?

Not much appetite and some dizziness thanks to the increased demand on my circulatory system {I’m pretty sure that’s why I threw up mid-workout… wave of dizziness followed by wave of nausea}.  This is the time of pregnancy where your blood pressure drops, so I’ve been more careful about suddenly standing up.

What I Miss?

My family.  I wish that they could be here and share some of this with me :-(  I miss them.  I’m so happy that my mom is coming for two full weeks once the baby is born.  You’ll have to pray for my mom – she’s only flown twice in her life: (1) 30+ years ago when Dad was doing a residency interview in AZ, and (2) with my SIL to visit my brother at his AFB in TX about 3 years ago.  For her to do a 25 hour international flight by herself is proof of the pull of a grandchild.  I’ve told Chris that I may not want her to leave.  She doesn’t know how to get to the airport in Auckland, so we just won’t take her.  So there!

Gender?

Hopefully we’ll know by next Tuesday – eeek!

Name?

We’re naming the baby… oh wait, that’s right, I’m not telling you!  Not until the littlest family member makes their arrival.  We have a full name for a girl and a first name for a boy.  I’ve picked out a boy’s middle name, but Chris hasn’t decided if he likes it yet.  I know how he operates – he won’t decide until we know what we’re having.  That’s fine.

Prepared For The Delivery?

I’m not too nervous about it.  I had 1 semester of L&D/Maternal Child Health in school where you were required to assist with births, do prenatal care, postpartum care, work in the nursery and the NICU, and do home visits with recently discharged mommas and babies.  Plus I work in an ER and I see pregnancies in all sorts of stages, up to and including deliveries.  Other than taking classes, staying fit, eating right, and listening to my midwife, there’s not much else that I can do, so why worry?

I won’t be doing one of these every week like some choose to do, but it’s fun to do every now and again.  Thanks for reading!

All Kinds of Movement!

Starting last week (week 17) I could feel the baby moving.  It was the most amazing thing – I just sat there for awhile and thought, “Was that what I thought it was?”  Pretty cool!  It feels like a little tap-tap, as though the baby’s saying, “Hey guys – I’m in here!”  And my response to that is, “Yes you are, and we can’t wait to meet you!”

I can usually feel the baby move a couple of times each day.  At first, I would stop and tell Chris about it each time.  He was excited in the beginning.  Now, the baby’s moving so often that each time I say, “Oooh, the baby just moved!”, he’s like, “Uh huh – that’s nice…”  It’s not all that exciting when you can’t feel it for yourself, I guess ;-)

We’re hoping to find out the baby’s sex next week.  In New Zealand, you have at most 2 ultrasounds if you’re fit and well.  We opted out of the 1st one.  It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me, and our midwife agreed.  It’s not a bad idea to have it, but it doesn’t really tell you a whole lot {although it is useful if you’re unsure about how far along you are, if you have a prior history of ectopic pregnancies, or other health risks}.  This ultrasound will be our first look at our Kiwi Baby and we’re pretty excited about that.

We’re planning on revealing the baby’s sex but keeping the name a surprise.  My friend Brooke was pretty impressed when I told her that we’d already settled on a girl’s name and were almost decided on a boy’s name {just waiting for Chris to give a “yea” or “nay” on the middle name}.  She thought we were quick.  Quick, ha!  I told her that Chris and I have been married for 6 years, and I’ve been thinking about baby names for, oh, 6 1/2 years.  So, not quick at all, trust me.  I’m pretty picky about names.  There’s a lot to consider – pronunciation, monograms {I don’t want our child to have initials that spell something ridiculous}, length, nicknames – and you don’t want your baby to have a name that will turn them into playground lunchmeat!

So keep your fingers crossed that baby’s in the right position next week.  So exciting!  I can’t believe that I’m almost to the halfway point of this pregnancy… boy, have I got a lot to do!

***Update – We weren’t able to book the ultrasound till the week after next :-(  The group we are going to has the scans done by actual radiologists instead of ultrasound techs, so they tend to be a bit more in demand.  Oh, well.  Patience is a virtue!***

Pregnancy in New Zealand – Labor & Delivery

Picking up from the last post

I have to admit, learning about Labor & Delivery in New Zealand and the differences between here and in the States was the most surprising for me, especially the part about how soon you’re discharged after birth – 2 to 4 hours postpartum.

Labor and Delivery

Just like in the States, you have several options.  Depending on your midwife and preference, you can choose to deliver at home, at a midwife facility, or in hospital.  All of these are covered by taxes if you’re a resident or have a 2 year work visa.  If you deliver at a midwife  facility, you won’t be required to pay the extra $305 – $340/night for a private room.  However, you’ll still pay $50/night for your partner.

If you choose to deliver in hospital and everything’s normal, then you’ll be discharged 3 – 4 hours later {if you didn’t have an epidural, then it’s 2 hours later}.  If you’ve been in labor for 30 hours and gave birth at 1am, it makes no difference – you’ll still be out the door at 4am {or sooner}.  As my midwife told us, “you need to leave the hospital.”  You’ll need to get up and shower as well as breastfeed to demonstrate recovery.  Also, they don’t bathe the baby prior to discharge – just a quick rubdown.  In the States, a lot of tests and immunizations are run on a newborn while in hospital.  I’m assuming that they must do these in the days and weeks following birth here in New Zealand, since not much could be done in a 3 hour time-frame.  Or maybe they don’t do the same amount of testing – I’m not sure about that yet. If you deliver a boy and want to have a circumcision, you’ll have to set that up at an outpatient clinic.  Upon discharge you can either drive to a midwife facility or simply go home {if your midwife OKs it}.  If you go home, your midwife usually follows up on you within a few hours.  You will have Plunket nurse visits starting sometime during the first 5 weeks of baby’s birth.

In case you’re wondering why they discharge you so soon after birth, consider this: in the last town we lived in there was a population of just over 100,000.  There was one hospital in that town with 10 birthing suites – not including midwife facilities.  Auckland has around 1.25 million people, and amongst its 4 hospitals has a total of only 40 birthing suites – again, not including midwife facilities.  So… over 10 times the population, but only 4 times the amount of space.  You do the math.  When they say that you need to leave, it’s likely because there’s someone else who needs the room.

Pregnancy in New Zealand

Hey everyone – I’ve gotten a few questions regarding the differences between being pregnant in the US and being pregnant in NZ.  Since I’ve never been pregnant in the US and this is my first time being pregnant in NZ, I can tell you right now that my comparisons aren’t going to be exhaustive, but I’ll do my best to answer questions and tell you what I know.  Rather than one incredibly long post, I’m going to break it up over a couple of different ones so as not to bore you all too much.  All of this is information that I’ve either experienced myself, heard from other women in New Zealand, or have researched.

Prenatal Care {Antenatal Care}

If you are a resident of NZ or have a 2 year work visa, then {almost} all of your prenatal care can be covered by government funding.  I say almost, because there are some fees.  Having an ultrasound will cost between $50 – $70, and you’ll need at least 1 of these.  I’m also deliberate about saying that most of your care “can be covered”, because you do have some options as to what you get.

You can choose to deliver your child using an OB-GYN instead of a midwife.  Midwives are the standard of care in New Zealand and come under government funding.  If you use an OB-GYN, it will cost around $4,000 out of pocket.  There are some insurance policies that cover maternity costs, but the one that we went with {which just happened to be the only one that included that option} doesn’t start coverage until you’ve held the policy for at least 3 years.  Also, if you deliver in hospital and desire a private room for your after care, it will cost between $305 – $340 per night for up to 3 nights at Birthcare {a shared room is free}.  You can also choose to have extra services, such as 3D ultrasounds.  These aren’t covered, and you’ll be expected to pay for anything that isn’t truly necessary.  However, all of your bloodwork, prenatal visits, and several prenatal classes are paid by government funding.  Considering the incredibly high cost of living in Auckland compared to the United States, I’ll take all of the “free” stuff that I can get.

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