The degree of medical contact with pregnant women is reasonably high in Spain, with more antenatal tests and intervention during childbirth than would happen in the UK. The standard of care is highly regarded, both public and private. In the larger cities, such as Barcelona and Madrid, maternity facilities are very comprehensive, ranging from large hospitals to smaller clinics. Larger facilities are usually run under the social security system, while smaller providers are via health insurance.
The traditional option of birth in a hospital is by far the most common, although in some areas home births are becoming available.
Once you think you may be pregnant you are advised to see a doctor as soon as possible, so that the pregnancy can be confirmed, you can be examined and routine blood tests and ultrasound scans arranged. Many clinics have a community midwife who will arrange antenatal appointments; generally once a month with progress recorded in the consultation document, or “mothers’ passport”.
Your next port of call will be the local hospital for a scan. A number of tests will be conducted including for diabetes, toxoplasmosis and HIV. You will also have monthly blood and urine tests. As the birth draws nearer you may also have a swab to test for streptococcus B.
Maternity care is not included in the EU EHIC card that covers public healthcare so make sure your health insurance or social security has been sorted out. Being registered for social security will also entitle you to the standard maternity leave of 16 weeks. In order to qualify you must have been paying contributions for a set period of time (zero for mothers under 21; 90 days for mothers aged between 21 – 26; or 180 days for mothers over 26).
When you go to the hospital to give birth you should go to the emergency ward (urgencias) of the local hospital. English is not always widely spoken so it is sensible to have someone with you who can speak Spanish, to ask questions on your behalf and communicate your preferences concerning medical treatment. Spanish hospitals will have standard operating procedures that they don’t necessarily run past patients, so it is important to have someone to explain what is happening and to speak up for you.
Similar to Germany, hospitals in Spain do not allow gas or air, although epidurals and pethidine are available.
For private care, Bupa International is a leading international expatriate health insurer with customers in over 190 countries.
Photo credit: jeanine&preston (photo 2)
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