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Having a Baby in Spain - Part 1 - First Steps

By Jo Green - Mon 6th Jul 2009

The moment that I had never really given much thought or preparation to had arrived - I had that "feeling" that I might be pregnant. My boyfriend was at work and the following day we were having guests to stay, so I thought it best to do the test straight away rather than wait another week.

My first thought was how to ask for a pregnancy testing kit in Spanish as our local pharmacy did not speak any English. Unfortunately the dictionary was not quite as detailed as I required and I found myself simply asking "Embarazada – Si or No?"

I am glad to say that my Spanish improved considerably throughout my pregnancy, but without the patience and understanding of my local pharmacy the whole experience could have been much more difficult (I can recall feeling as nervous as a teenage boy queuing for a packet of condoms as I stood in line to wait my turn!)

My next panic was how to read the instructions, but fortunately they were in English and very easy to follow, and one minute later it was confirmed - I was pregnant! I remember feeling ecstatic, nervous, scared and excited all in the same second. Lots of questions kept popping into my head, what do I do next? How will we cope? But ultimately will we have to move back to the UK?

After we both got back down to earth we decided the next logical step was to get it confirmed by our local "Family" Doctor in the Village. This in its self was daunting as I had never been before, so the next morning around 10.00am I called in to make an appointment, it was a scary building and looked more like a Spanish social centre for the elderly. I was told you have to turn up before 9.00am and put your name down on the list, the list is then collected at 9am and only the people with their name on the list can be seen by the doctor! I came back the next day 8.30am to put my name on the list, along with 12 other names and asked what time my appointment would be, only to be told the doctor normally arrives at 11ish, your name is 12th on the list so should be about 12ish.

Ok, I thought, I was warned that the doctor leaves at 1pm (or earlier if he has no patients) so I turned up at 12pm sharp to find that the doctor had still not arrived. The waiting room was full! - With no chance of me being seen that day and being told to try again tomorrow (Do they forget that some people actually have work to go to?) I put my name down at 8am and returned at 11am, after waiting for over an hour it was finally my turn, only to be told I need to see the midwife in the next Town up the road! (I was with the doctor for less than 10 seconds – and the receptionist could probably have told me the information that I needed – I can remember thinking that it could be possible that I would have had the Baby by the time I got as far as my first scan at this rate!

Fortunately from the moment I made my first appointment at the Clinic in the Town things flowed very smoothly. The Midwife was a very friendly, and understood my bad Spanish and helped me as much as she could (she did not speak any English, but why should she?), it was after my appointment with her when I felt a little more at ease with the Spanish medical system. We decided that I should continue with State Healthcare as long as I was happy, healthy and had no problems, and I am glad to say that although at times I felt very alone and craved an English speaking doctor, more than 2 years down the line I am glad I chose the Spanish system. I feel it has given me more confidence and after all Spain is our home now. We did consider private medical care (and since the Baby was born we have had Private Healthcare cover, but fortunately have had no need to use it) and I have friends who have recently had babies both privately and through the Spanish system, all have been happy with their decision. At the end of the day each person has to decide what is best for them and their unborn baby.

It seems that the quality of care varies greatly in Spain throughout the whole of the Healthcare industry depending upon where you live and which Hospital you choose (even which Doctors or Midwives you see) and this seems to be the case in both the State and Private systems. Find out which suits your and your Baby’s needs the best – ask around and even take time to visit the Health Centres and Hospitals in your area before you make a decision on how to proceed in having your baby in Spain.

Comment on this Blog

Karen, I understand that each Regional Health Authority is different, but given that your partner DOES have a SIPS card and HAS paid into the system in the past you could try both going to your nearest Social Security office (most major towns) and asking that you be listed as being dependant on him. They should then issue you with a Provisional SIPS card, which is enough for you to get treatment - a full one should follow in a few months.
Jo Green - Mon, 14th Jun 2010
Hi, I have just found out am 10 weeks pregnant. I have no SIPS card but my fiance has one, we have recently split from partners. He is currently not paying into the system as work not very good at mo. We have both been residents for 3 years and are at a loss as what and where to go to for help. Any suggestions ?
Karen - Mon, 14th Jun 2010
The Spanish health system is one of the best in the world! They are completly prepared and if you also want you can go to clinics with private medical care. Unfortunatly in USA we don´t have such good thing so I´m really glad I´m living here in Spain and have everything in my hand.
Sophie - Sun, 13th Jun 2010
The aftercare is very different : for one there are no Health visitors at all here in Spain and no nurses or midwives that come to your home, or no lactation consultants or groups. We had an LLL group meet but it was once a month and only for babies under 6 months old. People rely a lot on family support here, so if you do not have family you are a little lost. There is also a distinct lack of mother & toddler groups or activities for kids where we live. We had tumble tots in the Uk...and rainbows, massive soft play areas.... it is so limited here and what classes there are (such as ballet) are so horrendously expensive that with school books etc... we just can't afford that. The yearly matriculas wipe us out. The pregnancy care was second to none, much better than the UK...sadly it just fell away after birth.
Ana - Fri, 11th Jun 2010
Thanks Ana, that's a really interesting point of view ! - Would you say that the aftercare - as a whole - that you recieved in Spain was better than the UK ?
Jo Green - Fri, 11th Jun 2010
I had my baby in Spain - again, in Alicante province. Your experience really does depend wildly on where you have your baby, and birthing options are limited; Hospital or hospital - whereas I wanted a home birth and I could not. I speak fluent Spanish, but I had my first child in the UK and the difference was still quite a shock for me. My midwife was excellent though and my care was wonderful until the actual birth where I felt very much rushed to give birth, and was given drugs to speed up labour although I'd only been in labour 2 hours and the baby was fine. Also our local hospital were very against breastfeeding for babies in NICU and in general. I felt very pressured to stop breastfeeding as soon as possible and move on to formula.
Ana - Fri, 11th Jun 2010
Hi, Congrats to you all. I just wanted to let Steff know, that if you live in Spain, you will automatically be attended. If you have your european medical id, it will be much easier, and if you have someone who does have social security (e.g. husband), you can ask to be covered by him aswell. I supose you already sorted some things out, as I just found out the date on which you wrote, but if now, I hope you can use my info. By the way, I am spanish, so if I can help, just let me know. Cheers
Tania - Sat, 5th Jun 2010
this is simply fantastic,i had my baby in fuenlabrada and the experience was worth the while i enjoyed every bit of it, the nurses and docs where pregnant again and am happy am going to have my baby here in spain again.
Joy Solomon Egede - Fri, 14th May 2010
Congratulations on your news Stef ! - I had my baby in Alicante province, and although I accept that the standard of care can vary enormously from Town to Town I was more than happy with the pre and post medical attention that I got (We even had private Health Insurance but were that happy with the staff and Hospital that we stayed with the state system!). As soon as you have made your first appointment with the midwife everything runs smoothly and all future appointments are mapped out for you. You can read my other Blogs on this subject by clicking on my name under my photo (above)... hopefully you will find them useful. - Suerte !
Jo Green - Thu, 29th Apr 2010
Hi. I hope you and baby are happy and healthy. Which province did you have your baby in? I am in Granada and having just found out I am pregnant, I am wondering what my options are. I have heard stories that state hospital births can be pretty pre-historic in terms of options.... Also I don't have social security here as I am not working at the moment. Considering trying to find something private on the Costa del Sol (a couple of hrs away, but at least they will probably speak english)! Any suggestions? Thanks, Stef x
Stef - Thu, 29th Apr 2010

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