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Having A Baby in Spain

- Updated: 04/04/2011
Having A Baby in Spain

Choosing where to have your Baby

There are often two different types of birthing centres in Spain. The first are private hospitals or clinics.

The second are state hospitals, which are located either in large cities or at key locations in rural areas.

The standard of Care can vary greatly between Hospital and Town - Both for Private and State Hospitals and it is recommended that you take a look at the facilities that each has to offer before you make any decision.

Many babies are born at private centres, where mothers enjoy a private room - often with a separate bed for dad. The main reason giving for choosing this route is privacy and more personalised treatment, thanks to the fact that you are paying for this privilege.

However, if there should be a complication, it is more than likely that your child will be moved to a public hospital, where state of the art equipment is available to treat the problem (and the mother may not always be able to accompany the Baby!). Therefore many choose to have their baby at the public centre and avoid risking the loss of precious minutes in transportation should something go wrong.

The condition of state centres varies from old, run down buildings that house high tech equipment, to bright new facilities that also house high tech equipment. Be assured the technical means are probably about the same, regardless of whether walls are freshly plastered or cracked. However, it can still pay to choose one of the newer hospitals as standards can be higher.

What To Expect From Giving Birth In Spain

Giving birth in Spain is unlike in the UK or USA. For a start, there is far less emphasis on patient involvement in the process (at least at public centres). If you go down this route, expect decisions to be made for you and expect to be told what to do and when to do it.

Most private centres and some state centres will offer anaesthesia. However, you may or may not receive some explanation regarding the type of anaesthesia used. And, beware, that in state centres, the doses of pain reliever used in epidurals are often so low they will barely provide any relief. If you are worried it is always a good idea to mention this to your Doctor well in advance so he can make preparation for this on your notes. For this reason, many choose to have a natural birth rather than take the risks involved with anaesthesia.

While you might have the good fortune of having your own, personal doctor deliver your baby at a public centre, this is not the case at state hospitals. You will be attended by the doctor or midwife on duty. In the case of the latter, a qualified specialist will be on duty should an emergency occur.

As preparation for birth, Spanish health care workers typically administer an enema and some centres might still require shaving. Also expect quite a number of staff to be present and don't be surprised if someone offers to 'help' the baby out by throwing their weight on your belly.

Pre-Natal Care

Excellent prenatal care is standard throughout Spain at both private and public centres. Expect regular visits to both your 'médico de familia' - or family doctor - and to the nearest gynaecologist. The exact schedule will depend on the clinic you are working with.

Begin by having your family doctor confirm the results of your pregnancy test. From there, he or she will advise you regarding blood and urine tests as well as the schedule of regular visits. You will also have a number of ultrasounds and will be given the option of finding out the sex of your child at around 20 weeks (remember to clearly tell your Midwife if you do not wish to know the sex of your Baby and ask them to make notes in your Medical Record, as it is unusual in Spain NOT to want know the Sex).

Towards the end of your pregnancy, expect a closer eye to be kept on you. At this point you will be regularly scheduled for the fetal heart rate monitor, which will also register and measure the strength of your contractions. If you are scheduled to be monitored at a public centre, wear pants that can easily be pulled down for the monitor or bring a sheet or blanket with you as often more than one couple is scheduled in the same room and there may or may not be any provision for privacy.

You will also be given the option of participating in birth preparation classes. Obviously, these will be in Spanish - an excellent chance to practice yours and gain new, birth-related vocabulary.

Post-natal Care

Following the birth of your baby, you can expect to stay in the hospital for anywhere from 24 hours to three or four days, depending on the centre you have chosen and the health of Mother and Baby. If this is your first Baby it is also often common for Dad to be “ Persuaded “ to stay with Mum for the full duration of the Stay and help out with Bathing and changing the Baby. Although a bed for Dad is rarely provided ( at least in state Hospitals ) it is a good opportunity for both Mum and Dad to learn the basics about looking after the new baby from the experts.

Before your discharge from Hospital Baby will be given his own Medical Health card, and the necessary Papers to Register the birth at the Town Hall.

Directly following your release from hospital you must contact your local clinic ( in the case of those working with the public system )to schedule the heel prick test given to newborns within the first week following birth. You should also schedule a first visit to the pediatrician to take place within the first two weeks. He or she will check to ensure your baby is gaining weight properly, answer any questions you might have and then explain the schedule of 'well baby' visits as well as the local vaccine schedule. In nearly all cases this will be written down inside the same Health Book that you were given when you made your first appointment with the Midwife/Doctor.

Should either mother or baby experience fever during the days following birth, it is advisable to go directly to the emergency room at the nearest hospital as this could be a sign of post-natal complications.

All urgent questions regarding an infant should be taken directly to the emergency room at a large hospital. Not only could it take days to get an appointment with your pediatrician, but doctors at local state clinics do not have the specialised equipment needed to evaluate an infant.

Mothers are also expected to make an appointment with their gynaecologist during the Immediate days after giving birth.

Comment on this Article

Benefits ? : Ha Ha ! - Good luck with that one ! To cut a long story short, I wasn't eligible for anything at all due to bad timing, not being married to my partner, and not working on a sufficiently legal contract (even though my partner was !) - I wouldn't bank on the fact that you would get anything ! - There is a Guide on Claiming Child Benefits in Spain if you click the "Childbirth" link underneath the outline of Spain, Above...
Jo Green - Sun 13th Jan 2013
Thank you Jo, I can't find aything about the seasonal contracts, I think i'll just ask a Gestor then. Do you maybe know how they do it here with child benefits?? Thanks for the quick reply
Iris - Sat 12th Jan 2013
Iris : Anyone on a full-time permenant legal contract is entitled to 4 Months maternity leave, but I'm not sure if this is the case for lesser contracts. I had my first Baby in Spain in the Public system, and my 2nd in the private system. I can honestly say that I the state healthcare I receieved with my first baby was great.
Jo Green - Sat 12th Jan 2013
Hi, i was wondering uf anybody had any experience in private or state hospitals in mallorca? I am not pregnant (yet) but we are trying. Ive got seguridad social but no private insurance, do i need to? And does anybody know how long you get off of work? I am not on a permanent contract because there is only seasonal work here. Thanks :)
Iris - Sat 12th Jan 2013
Leigh-Ann : Have you already been seeing a Midwife here in Spain ? If so you should make an appointment for a consultation at your chosen hospital and be sure to take your 'Cartilla del Embarazo' with you so they can see your pregnancy notes & history. If you have not seen a midwife here in Spain they may be able to request your notes be sent over from the UK, but this often comes with a cost and a delay. That said, they may perform a brief medical and ascertain that all is well and proceed without requiring them.
Jo Green - Mon 21st Mar 2011
can someone please tell me how to enquire about going private in mallorca spain, i am nearly 27weeks pregnant now thankyou
Leigh-ann Hodgson - Mon 21st Mar 2011
Aman, please go to your local medical centre for advice - they will refer you to the appropriate Doctor or Hospital when they know the exact nature of any treatment you may require.
Jo Green - Mon 14th Mar 2011
Hi, can anyone tell me a good hospital in barcelona for my pregnancy problem.
Aman - Mon 14th Mar 2011
Aman, if you are asking HOW you can get help to get pregnant, you should really start by asking at your medical centre. They may refer you to a fertility specialist if needs be.
Jo Green - Fri 4th Mar 2011
Please help me how can I get pregnant,I have been married 4 years ?
Aman - Fri 4th Mar 2011
Wow! - it's interesting to see how experiences change so much from Town to Town. Good luck, and I hope everything goes smoothly for you this time.
Jo Green - Sun 19th Dec 2010
I had a baby 2006 in a private hospital in Barcelona and experienced the bump thing and shaving (an awful midwife). After birth they took the baby and said I couldnt have him with me because he was cold (I heard other mothers complain about the same thing). I got to see him 3 hours later after after arguing with the nurses. Im expecting another baby in a couple of months now and I changed hospital, dr. and midwife. Hopefully everything will be more relaxed this time.
Rita - Sun 19th Dec 2010
No, the Hospital was quite a good one in a big town, I have no complaints at all about the standard of care I received, it was just a little unexpected to have the midwife press down on my bump shortly before delivery, and then do the same again in aftercare a couple of days later. I didn't find it worrying or frightening, just something odd that I wasn't quite expecting.
Jo Green - Mon 19th Jul 2010
That's awful, poor you! Was that in a hospital in a smallish town or something? The bump thing happened to a friend in Las Canarias, but that was 12 years ago. In my hospital in Seville (city), there were several lovely, forward-looking midwives who had all worked abroad. (And some of the more classic Spanish variety...) The birth plan went down well with the modern ones and they did their best to implement what we wanted. However they indicated to us that it would be surprising / not so well-received by some of their colleagues!
Sally - Mon 19th Jul 2010
It may not have been 'Official Policy' to administer enemas and shaving etc... or to push down on your bump to bring on delivery, however these things did all happen to me during the birth of my daughter 3 years ago. I accept that different hospitals in different regions may follow a different set of criteria, which is why the article says "Some Hospitals might". - A very useful point you made about the birthing plan ! - Did you do this at your birth ? How was it recieved by the staff ?
Jo Green - Sun 18th Jul 2010
Most of the info in this article is very good, but some key bits strike me as quite out of date and may cause unneccessary worry to expectant mums. It hasn't been Spanish policy to do pre-natal shaving or enemas on expectant mums for some time now. I'm pretty certain that the same is also true of midwives throwing themselves onto your lump to aid delivery! I had an epidural during my labour (this Jan, in a public hospital in Seville, one of the most traditional regions of Spain) and it was perfectly administered. I felt no pain whatsoever during labour, and suffered no ill after-effects. It is true that natal care in Spain leaves a lot to be desired compared to N Europe and N America. For example, the only option for pain relief during labour is the epidural - they don't have TENS machines, gas & air, etc. yet. But things are - slowly - modernising. A good tip is to write (in Spanish) a Plan de Parto (birth plan) and submit it to the maternity department when you go in for delivery.
Sally - Sun 18th Jul 2010
In Spain, you also can get a doula! In this country it is still quite a new concept, but every year there's more women who use one! - Just Google "Doulas Spain"
Isabel - Mon 12th Jul 2010
Donna, as in most countries the standard of care offered will vary from Hospital to Hospital and from area to area. A number of my friends opted to go private and have a C-Section with their pregnancies and were surprised that they were actually contracted out to the state hospital for the operation itself and only moved back to the private hospital for the recovery and after care! I gave birth naturally, and I know that almost every pregnancy is encouraged to result in a natural birth except where there are specifc medical reasons for a C-section. That said, you may be lucky in stating your case for having one with your mid-wife as early as possible in your pregnancy and making sure that your request is recorded in your notes. Please take a look at one of my "Baby in Spain" Blogs via this link for more advise -
Jo Green - Sat 13th Feb 2010
It felt like I almost gave birth for 2 as I had a C-section and now,after almost 4yrs I am pregnant once again. I am now afraid to gave birth through a normal delivery, and the maternity hospital I have been asigned here in spain is an old hospital.How can they offer me the best possible care when I gave birth this time if I choose to have a ceasarian delivery?
Donna May - Fri 12th Feb 2010