Childbirth Tourism Brings Russian Women to Brazil in Search of Citizenship for Their Children

War in Ukraine boosts search for country to obtain passport and better conditions to give birth

Pregnant with her fourth child, Russian lawyer Alena Tcherepanova, 41, traded the Siberian winter for the summer in São Paulo and immediately noticed the difference in her body. "As soon as I arrived, the swelling went down, my skin, my hair, my nails, everything improved. I no longer had to wear a lot of clothes like in the cold of Russia, something very unpleasant for a pregnant woman," she said.

The child, baptized with the Greek name of Anfisa, was born on February 26, 2021 by the SUS (Unified Health System), in a birthing center in the Jardim Mirante neighborhood, on the outskirts of the city. Without mastering English or speaking Portuguese, Alena communicated with the team through a translation app on her cell phone.

Despite the language barrier, she says the experience at Casa Angela exceeded her expectations. "I was surrounded by affection, which is what a woman needs at that moment. It was very different from what happens in Russia, where obstetric violence is unfortunately very common," she said. "This warm atmosphere helped me relax. This is the kind of environment that children are supposed to be born into."

Alena is not an isolated case: the demand for so-called childbirth tourism in Brazil has grown so much among Russian, Ukrainian and other countries of the former Soviet Union that specific agencies have been created to serve them. The price of the service varies according to the assistance chosen, but the average is US$ 5,000 (R$ 23,000). There are also forums on social networks for exchanging tips between those who want to come and those who have already had the experience.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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