Having Our Baby in Brazil – a Success Story

My son looking out the airplane window upon our arrival to Brazil.

There we were, a family of four looking for a way to get our feet back into the country we loved.

Long over were the days of overstaying tourist visas and other temporary stays, we needed something permanent and lasting.

The problem was that I was American and my wife Danish, meaning that visas would be difficult, the frustration ensued…

I will never forget that one evening where I was sitting in front of my computer and trying to figure out a way to get back into the country legally, which had become a daily ritual by that point.

And suddenly *BAM* there it was, the answer I had been looking for all this time lay right in front of my four eyes (reading glasses)!

Any baby born within the boarders of Brazilian territory, automatically , what’s even more, the parents of the Brazilian child can legally stay in the country permanently as a Brazilian child has the right to live in his/her country.

We ended up taking a leap of (blind) faith and booking our flight tickets to give birth in Brazil even before my wife was pregnant.

And so the journey began…

We Landed in Brazil with a Big Belly and a Big Mission

About 7 months and a lot of research later, we were on an airplane heading to Brazil.

It was a foggy morning in Sao Paulo and our plane was naturally delayed, rerouted and rerouted again because of this.

When the airplane weels kissed the sweet Brazilian tarmac, there was a sigh of relief yet a feeling of nervousness “would they ask questions about my wife’s belly?”.

We were trailblazers here as far as we knew and yeah other’s had done this before us, but no one had lived to write about it – or just written about it.

And so we continued to the immigration check point and instead of frowns and scrutiny, we got smiles and welcoming words.

Ahhh… it was nice to be back in Brazil!

Our first picture back on Brazilian soil!

Florianópolis, the Land of Milk and Honey

I had been to Florianópolis one time before on vacation and remembered it being absolutely amazing.

Even better is that in all my months of research, I found out that Florianópolis was the spearhead of the natural birthing movement in Brazil.  That was a relief because the horrendous tales of doctors taking advantage of patients, pushing c-sections, had scared us and we had our sights set on doing what was best for us and not the doctor.

Picture this: after a long 11 or so hour drive from São Paulo, we showed up in Florianópolis not knowing a soul, and with a phone number to someone who could possibly help us.

Nail-biting ensued…

So, I pulled over and found the nearest pay phone I could and dialed the number I had.  This well connected Brazilian guy was awesome and hooked us up to stay at this aparthotel type place for a few days until we could find something more permanent.

The Housing Hunt Was on

So he kindly took us in and drove us around looking for a house or apartment.  We stopped at all the main pousadas (aparthotels) and he asked if they would be willing to rent us one on a monthly basis.

This caring soul did this so that we didn’t get the special foreigner price and instead could get the native Brazilian one (a savings of usually several hundred percent!).

Note: if a foreigner makes an inquiry, many Brazilian business owners see this as an opportunity to stick it to you price-wise…

SUCCESS! We had found a place to stay within only 3 days time at a great Brazilian price.

The pousada we got a place at.

It was a great apartment, centrally located and fully furnished with bedding and all – it was literally footsteps away from the best beaches, restaurants and activities that Florianópolis has to offer.

The Quest for the Perfect Hospital and Doctor

Our nesting mission had been accomplished and now it was time to get to figuring out where we would give birth, with who and how (let’s not forget how much on our already strained finances!).

First, we met with a guy who was reputable as being a big advocate of natural and home births; he must have been the doctor to the celebrities around the area because Doctor Cheesy-smile was EXPENSIVE!

So we went and did the polar opposite by checking out a public university hospital under the SUS system, and the people were sweet but facilities run down and you could just feel a sense of insecurity when looking around “will they have enough on staff, will there be room, will it be safe, will we be able to share a room with several others?”

A Last Ditch Effort

The word “frustration” couldn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling up to this point, plus not to mention all of the confusion.

Well, that was until I picked up the phone and called a natural birthing clinic we had previously discovered online.

Since I didn’t have a local phone number, I had to literally go down to the parking lot at the pousada, connect to the free wireless and call using Skype – it was a pretty funny site to be honest.

From the first phone call we were literally sold.

Here was a group of midwives who believed so much in natural births and doing what was right that they started their own movement that is now beginning to sweep throughout Brazil.

We arranged to sit down with them and talk about what they do and how their service functions.

The Answer to All our Prayers

They are a home birthing clinic were their focus is on the mother, father to be and babythat’s it.

Amazingly, they could offer us a lot more then we ever would have imagined!

Here is why:

  1. They would come to us at our place – we didn’t have to fight traffic or anything.
  2. When the labor started, we just had to pick up the phone and call.
  3. They brought all of the necessary birthing equipment with them.
  4. My wife would get the VIP treatment during the birthing – plenty of care and attention (no cold and uncomfortable hospital bed).
  5. Only 5 out of 200 births with them had ended in the mother needing to be rushed to the hospital due to complications – only 1 ending in a c-section!
  6. The focus was on us and not a hospital or doctor’s profits!
  7. They could offer us all services in English + help with the birth certificate.

And actually much more…

At first we had the same doubts about home births as others, though after talking to them we were completely sold.

And more importantly it felt right!


Took a Leap of Faith

We had spent so much on the flight tickets, car, housing and other things that we couldn’t afford some fancy birthing package with Dr. Celebrity himself.

We were financially leaning more towards the free hospital birth under SUS side of the equation and really couldn’t afford to pay much.

This was mainly due to our car sucking away all our savings when we arrived (cost double what we expected).

Though, after we had met with the sweet midwives from this home birthing group, it was time to make a decision: were we going to follow our hearts or our wallets?

The look in my 6 month pregnant wife’s eyes pierced right through my heart and there was no doubt in my mind about what to do.

I then picked up the phone and called the midwife and told her the news.

“We would like you all to deliver our baby.”  We were met with joy and understanding.

The Birth went Amazing

As the labor began, we called the birthing group and let them know that it was time.

They rushed over in a group of 3 and it all began…

As they inflated a birthing tub up in the middle of the living room, they began warming the water up.

It was time!

The midwives were so awesome and caring with us and made sure that everything happened smoothly – and it did.

My kids enthusiastically helping to pump the birthing tub up.

A few hours later and no epidurals or painkillers needed, our Brazilian baby girl was born!

Note: as they had all of these techniques to keep my wife comfortable (i.e. no flat hospital bed), there was no need for harmful epidurals or anything.

Our midwife Iara carefully inspecting our newborn baby.

A happy and healthy little baby girl and everything happened without a hitch.

All to this panoramic view:

The view we gave birth to….

We were happy and content and they did a wonderful job – they even helped us get the birth certificate after all that VIP treatment!

How Our Experience Can Help You

After I’ve began writing this “Giving Birth in Brazil” Series, many people have written to me asking the following questions:

  • Can you recommend a place to give birth?
  • Do you know of any housing?
  • How about a car?
  • What options will fit my budget?
  • What’s the easiest way to a residence visa?

I realize that Brazil is all about who you know and that it can be unfair to expect that just delivering this information to you will be enough.

Therefore I’m considering doing something about this to help you even further.

Basically, so you don’t have to go through all of the frustrations and hardships that we had as trailblazers, we’ve already carved a path through the woods – so to speak.

I’ve been in touch with several of my connections in Florianópolis to see how all of the following can be pulled together to create a birthing package for foreigners:

  • A complete birthing package with the above clinic (or a doctor if necessary but through the clinic so it’s as natural as possible).
  • A comfortable place to live before during and after birth.
  • Help to get a car as it’s impossible to purchase as a visitor.
  • Help with the birth certificate.
  • Help to get the baby’s passport.
  • Help to apply for permanent residence.
  • Help with other necessary logistics.

My goal would be to help you have a stress-free and completely enjoyable experience by offering all of the above, at a great price (I.E Brazilian prices).

This is still a work in progress and I don’t know if it will come together, but I’ve already got a couple of families interested in finding out.  It will all depend on interest.

If the idea of having everything taken care of from your arrival to applying for permanent residence / departure, at about the price you would normally pay for the above in Brazil is interesting, will you send me an e-mail to let me know?

You can either write to kevin(at)liveinbrazil.org or just click “contact” in the top right of this site.

Thanks for reading about my journey and following this series, I look forward to helping you more and more through this site!

Valeu – Cheers!


Posts from the Giving Birth in Brazil series:

  • Jessie Hill

    Great story! My husband is Brazilian and when I was doing research while I was pregnant I was alarmed to read about the general attitude towards birth in Brazil. Lot of c/sec etc…
    I got my desired homebirth last year but since then I have worried what it would be like if I had another baby after we move to Brazil. His family had a very “closed” mind-set towards homebirth. Its really encouraging to read your post – I know how wonderful a homebirth can be – and it also gives me more incentive to somehow end up living in Floripa! I only hear good things about that place. We leave NYC in December but are heading to BH where my husband grew up, and from there we will see…..I will definitely be reading your site – its excellent. I can’t wait to read the posts on teaching English.

    • https://liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      Nice Jessie!

      Yeah, it’s all about knowing and trusting the right people – pregnant women get taken advantage by doctors a lot in Brazil…

      Floripa is the best place I know of to give birth! Our experience with the home birth was wonderful and fortunately we were able to clear a trail for others too.

      Floripa is a great place to be and enjoy the site, I’ll be making some updates to the English teaching section soon too ;)

      • Beverley McKinley

        How much was the home birth?

  • MiamiMama

    Did your other children also get permanent visas, or how does it work for the siblings? We might be in a similar situation and were wondering about our son, who would be 3 when our next is born.

    Thank you for sharing your advice and experience! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts.

    • https://liveinbrazil.org/ Kevin Porter

      Oi! yep :)

      It’s my pleasure and make sure to check out video 3 of the new video series at livelovebrazil.com as I’ll cover birthing in Brazil in more detail :)

      • Jala Mia

        My girl-friend is here on tourist visa which is expiring soon. Do you think this will create a problem for us during birth registration and other processes that you enumerated? She can’t renew her visa as we learnt and she is a few months away from term. Please what do you advise we do?

  • Francis

    hello kevin,
    very enjoy reading your posts. one question from me is that when the baby is born, my visa might have expired already. in this case can i still apply for PR based on brazilian child and what kind of proofs i have to submit. Thank you very much!

  • Pricopea

    Wow! What an incredible story. You guy’s will and persistence to live in the country of your choice is inspiring. I too am thinking of living in a foreign country like Brazil with more of a Latin culture being that me, my wife, and son have Puerto Rican descent, and lived there for a while. We also gave birth to our son in another country(Berlin, Germany) and can empathize with you on the struggle on finding medical persons(where your wife can feel comfortable) and documentation and care afterwards for your newborn. We also had the pleasure of having a midwife, I think they are great for the mothers because they are so gentle and personal which is different from American customs that we were used to. I Just started listening to your podcast for all your insight, and look forward to following you and your families journey. And maybe one day we can make the journey for ourselves.
    Question: I really love Rio de Janeiro because of it being a bustling beach city, but what other big beach cities would you recommend for young families(30 years old) in Brazil?
    And much happiness to your family

  • flora

    hello kevin
    is it possible to get ur email please cause I will need some reference from you
    thank you