Chris Neil, President of the English-Speaking Health Assocation of Spain takes a look at the pros and cons of the different ways of giving birth in Spain.
Are you pregnant and living in Spain? Maybe it is difficult for you get back to your home country to give birth, but you may be worried about the implications of giving birth in Spain.
Be reassured: not only is Spanish healthcare famous for being one of the best, but its doctors and nurses are also renowned worldwide for their training and expertise. Childbirth can always be a bumpy ride, for one reason or another, and it is only natural to worry about it all going perfectly, especially if you feel uneasy that you are not in your own country and communication could be a problem.
Giving birth with the National Healthcare System
If you are a legal resident working in Spain, then you are entitled to public healthcare. If you choose to give birth in a public hospital, you will generally have a local hospital assigned, except in the case of going into labour far away or yours not having enough room. All public hospitals will take you in case of such emergencies. This is what it will be like:
- You will get three ultrasounds during the pregnancy.
- The good side of a Social Security hospital is that it usually is better equipped, and the resources are better. They usually have an anaesthetist and a gynaecologist no matter what
- They are said to perform less C-sections than in private hospitals.
The downsides of giving birth in a public hospital are:
- Attention will not be as personal –it is most likely that the doctor who helps you deliver your baby will not be the same who took care of your pregnancy. You will mainly be with the midwife, and the doctor will come if there are complications or special methods are needed.
- The staff, although highly professional will probably not speak English
- The protocols are stricter concerning procedures, visits, special requests, your own birth plan, etc.
- You will probably have to share a room.
- Because nurses are very professional and well-prepared, they are usually used to all sorts of hard situations: they can be kind and incredibly attentive, of course, but they will also be straightforward and efficient. They are doing their best for your own good, so be kind to them even if they seem tough!
Giving birth with private healthcare
If you have a private insurance or prefer to pay for a private hospital, there are also many factors to consider. You can choose the hospital you want to go to.
- You will also get three ultrasounds during pregnancy, with the possibility of asking for a 3D one.
- Private hospitals have a wider range of professionals to choose from, and you can ask for an English- speaking doctor, and even change specialists if you are not comfortable or want a second opinion.
- The doctor that takes care of your pregnancy will also be there to deliver your baby, typically with a team of four other people: a midwife, an assistant, an anaesthetist, and a neonatologist.
- You can expect a shorter wait for results and appointments, and visits are usually allowed at any time.
- You will be able to have your own room, sometimes even a suite.
- Private hospitals usually offer other services like a photographer, religious services, and even hairdressers.
On the other hand, private hospitals have a few downsides too:
- They may have the need to redirect you to a public hospital for special tests, since they can have better equipment. Other emergencies or complications may also incur in redirecting you to a public hospital that has the necessary human and technical resources.
- You will have to bring with you a suitcase with anything the baby might need (diapers, clothes, toiletries, etc.)
- The number of C-sections performed in private hospitals is also higher than that of public hospitals, but this is also due to private hospitals being more accommodating to mothers’ petitions when they want to set a specific date for the birth of their babies.
General advice for childbirth in Spain
- What about giving birth at home? Having your baby at home is quite rare in Spain, and it is not covered by the public system. Its approximate cost can be of around 2000€, but there are options of finding midwifes that will help you through this if you really want to do it.
- Even if your Spanish is very good, and even if you consider yourself bilingual, having a native by your side to help you communicate with the hospital staff is highly recommendable. There can be chaotic moments and many bilingual mothers have admitted to forgetting Spanish or finding it hard to think in a second language.
- Gas or air are not allowed in Spanish hospitals, but epidurals and pethidine are available.
- This is Spain… there will be paperwork. Get information on the paperwork you will need when your baby is born.
- Talk to other mothers and listen to their recommendations for good, trustworthy doctors.