Whether you’re already pregnant when you decide to move to Spain or you decide to extend your family once you’re living in the country, having a baby is one of the most significant (and exciting but nerve-wracking) life stages any woman can face.
These nerves might be particularly apparent if you’re in a brand-new country, and you don’t really understand how to approach the Spanish healthcare system.
To help you with any concerns, and to make the whole process go as smoothly as possible, here’s everything you need to know about having a baby in Spain:
A High Standard of Care
When you choose to have your baby in Spain, you can be sure you will receive a high standard of care. Pregnant women in Spain have a higher level of contact with their medical professionals than in the vast majority of other countries. So, expect to attend an abundance of antenatal tests and scans. In terms of how all this medical care is paid for, Spanish public healthcare covers a number of maternity services, but your private healthcare policy will cover any extra care you feel you need, including the opportunity to give birth in a private facility.
Calculating the Costs of Giving Birth in Spain
The good news is that, if you don’t have insurance, Spain is one of the most affordable places in the world to give birth. The latest statistics show the average birth costs around €1,800. If there are any complications then you can expect to add minimal extra costs to this figure.
However, the vast majority of women in Spain don’t pay anything to give birth, as it is covered by either the public health care system or their private health insurance policy (or a combination of both). If you’re thinking of starting or expanding your family in Spain then you should be aware that you should have held your private insurance policy for between 6 and 12 months for it to cover any maternity costs. To be eligible for public health care there is no time limit, but you must be registered for social security; you also need to be registered for social security to receive your standard 16 weeks of maternity leave.
Discovering that Your Pregnant
Home pregnancy tests are readily available over the counter at pharmacies (farmacias) for €10 or they can be purchased from pharmacies online for €7. If you would prefer to have medical support when you discover you are pregnant, you could also take a test at local clinic (centro de asistencia primaria) who will give you are pregnancy test whilst taking a full medical history. If you’re not a confident Spanish speaker, you are advised to take one with you, as almost all medical appointments in Spain are conducted in Spanish.
If you take a positive home test then you should contact a doctor or primary care center (Centro de Asistencia Primaria) as soon as possible to confirm the pregnancy. You’ll probably have your first scan, blood tests and complete a full medical history. After your first meeting with a doctor, you’ll see a midwife once every four weeks for the first 32 weeks and then every two weeks. If there are complications, you may require weekly appointments. Your progress will be recorded in a document known as a mother’s passport, which you’ll receive at your first appointment.
The Medical Process Throughout Your Pregnancy
As mentioned above, your pregnancy will be well-monitored, with plenty of intervention when needed. You’ll have at least three ultrasound scans throughout your pregnancy, and doctors will also conduct tests for diabetes, toxoplasmosis, and HIV. You will also have regular blood and urine tests. Before the birth you will be tested for streptococcus B, which is compulsory in state hospitals, and is strongly recommended regardless of where you give birth. Pregnant women are also advised to get the TDAP vaccine – the inoculation against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) – between weeks 27 and 36 of gestation.
Many women choose to attend antenatal classes, which usually begin during the 25th week of pregnancy. In rural areas these are almost always conducted in Spanish, but in bigger cities you may be able to find antenatal classes in other languages.
Giving Birth in Spain
Once your labour begins, you should go to the hospital to give birth, go to the emergency ward (urgencias) of the local hospital. Take your mother’s passport, foreign identification card (NIE), and any other necessary paperwork with you, to speed up the process of booking you in. If you’re not a Spanish speaker, take something who can speak Spanish with you, as English is not always widely spoken in public hospitals in Spain.
You can write your own birth plan, but be aware that this might not always be followed. Gas and air, for example, is not permitted in Spanish hospitals although you can choose to have an epidural or pethidine. You should note that Spanish people view birth as a medical process, so it isn’t common for Spanish women to write birth plans or request alternative treatments such as water births.
Many expats having a baby in Spain choose to give birth in a private rather than a state hospital. This is possible if you have private health insurance cover, and treatment standards are high, though the additional costs involved can quickly dd up.
Homebirths are not common in Spain; they are not covered by the public healthcare system, and many Spanish midwives will not attend them. They are only an option if a birth is very low risk, and are generally not recommended in the country.
You’ve Had Your Baby: What Now?
Once you have given birth your babies health and wellbeing will be assessed using an Apgar score, which rates the baby’s condition with a particular focus on heart rate, breathing, and reflexes. The assessment results in an overall score of between zero and 10. The doctor or midwife then address any concerns about the score. A score of seven or higher usually indicates that the baby is in good health. A lower score doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any long-term health problems for the newborn.
Your health will also be checked to ensure that you have no birth injuries or pain, but any personal care will not be provided by a nurse or midwife, as it might be in other countries. Instead, your family and friends will be expected to care for you: when you’re in the hospital you can have one person stay with you at all times. After 5 days, you will usually permitted to leave the hospital, provided both you and your baby are healthy. At this point you will be given n infant record book to track the child’s condition and health appointments until the age of 18.
You may choose to attend postnatal classes, but these are by no-means compulsory, and many mothers choose to take care of their postnatal needs independently.
Registering Your Baby’s Birth
It’s very important that you registar your baby’s birth as soon as you can after they are born: You must register your baby at the local Civil Registry Office (Registro Civil) within eight days of the birth. If there is a valid reason, a delay of up to 30 days is possible. Ex pats who wish to get a non-Spanish passport for their child will need to ask for a full birth certificate (certificación literal).
When you go to register your baby you will need to take the yellow form that is given to you in the hospital called the Cuestionario para la Declaración de Nacimiento en el Registro Civil. Check that the information is correct (especially your baby’s name) and that it is signed by the midwife or doctor who delivered your baby. You will also need to take any national insurance documents belonging to the parents and a marriage certificate, which must be officially translated into Spanish. If the baby is born outside of marriage, then both parents must attend the registry office: if the parents are married then only one parent needs to attend. Bring your passports and identity cards (and copies) just in case they verify your identity.
At this point, you should sign your child up to social security in Spain so that you can access free vaccinations throughout their childhood.
It’s important to note that, in order to discourage birth tourism, unless one parent has Spanish nationality, the baby will not be eligible for citizenship (unless the parents are diplomats accredited to the Spanish government). In brief, neither children nor parents will automatically gain citizenship through the birth of a child.
Taking Maternity and Paternity Leave
Spain’s statutory maternity leave policy is generous, though not as generous as the policy offered in the UK. Women will receive 16 weeks statutory maternity leave for a single birth; 18 weeks for twins and 20 weeks for triplets. At least 6 weeks of this leave must be taken after the birth of the baby. For fathers paternity leave is set at 5 weeks, extended by two days for each additional child in the case of multiple births. You are entitled to maternity benefits if you are employed or self-employed, provided you are registered in the Spanish social security system. You also need to have been paying contributions to this system for a set period of time before you’re eligible to take payments from it.
Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Does the idea of raising your young family, or having a baby, in Spain sound appealing? If you’re looking for estate agents in Southern Spain then why not get in touch? Our locally based property experts are a font of local knowledge, and are perfectly placed to help show you and guide you to a range of properties for sale on the Costa Del Sol.