If you’re planning on giving birth in Portugal, we outline the process of having a baby in Portugal and include a list of midwives and hospitals.
If you are planning on having a baby in Portugal, you may be entitled to childcare benefits and maternity care in Portugal, under the Portuguese healthcare system and social security. However, there are some registrations required before you are covered by health insurance in Portugal, and you must have residency in Portugal.
This guide to having a baby in Portugal includes:
- Maternity and birth in Portugal
- Prenatal care in Portugal
- Giving birth in Portugal
- Registering your baby in Portugal
- Postnatal care after your baby’s birth
- Portuguese citizenship for your child
- Costs of having a baby in Portugal
- Maternity leave in Portugal
- Portuguese paternity leave
- Nurseries and childcare in Portugal
- Portuguese baby names
- English-speaking midwives in Portugal
- Public and private maternity hospitals in Portugal
Healthcare and maternity care in Portugal rank highly by international standards, with the Portuguese health system ranked 12th in a World Health Organisation (WHO) study. Portugal has a publicly funded national health service, the Servico Nacional de Saude (SNS), and residents in Portugal can have their baby in Portugal at either a public or private hospital maternity ward.
Maternity care in Portugal is available either free or low-cost to residents who have made health insurance contributions through the social security system in Portugal, as well as to their dependent family members. If you are not a resident and you have a baby in Portugal, you will need to have private health insurance to cover costs or pay full medical costs.
If you are expecting a baby in Portugal, make sure you are registered at a local health centre (centros de saude) so that you can access doctor and midwife services. Most people who give birth in Portugal do so in hospital maternity wards, often with a midwife present. Having a baby in Portugal at home is fairly rare.
Once registered with a health centre, prenatal (public) care can take place at a hospital but is mainly carried out in health centres (centro de saúde), with only the last weeks of prenatal care taking place in a hospital or in the case of some specific health conditions. Your doctor at the health centre can also refer you to a gynaecologist, who will provide support during the pregnancy and can help you find a midwife.
Maternity care is covered by the national health system and a mother is generally free to choose the public hospital she prefers; otherwise it will be the public hospital in her area unless another is requested by her practitioner. A woman may also choose to receive private care if she is insured. You can find a listing of some of the private and public maternity hospitals in Portugal below.
Medical examinations are free if you are having a baby in Portugal, but prenatal care classes typically have to be paid for. When the pregnancy is first recorded, you will be given a pregnancy booklet (Boletim de Saude de Gravida), in which your doctor or gynaecologist will record ongoing medical information as the pregnancy progresses. You should also take this to the hospital when you give birth.
Many medical staff and some hospital staff speak at least some English but this cannot be relied upon, in which cases taking someone to translate or learning a few Portuguese medical terms is useful.
Most births in Portugal take place in the maternity ward of a hospital. Home births are rare in Portugal – but not available through the SNS – although there is growing interest alternative birthing options. You are free to choose your own midwife to assist in a home birth.
A midwife may be present to assist the doctor with the delivery, and one other person is generally allowed in the room when you give birth in Portugal, usually a partner or friend. Once you have given birth in Portugal, the baby is weighed and its health is checked. Any illnesses or defects will be recorded.
You can also opt to use the services of a doula, who provide advice and emotional support; however, as doulas are not trained health professionals, they may only be allowed to enter the birthing room if the hospital has specific policies for this, or if they enter instead of a partner/relative. The Doula Association of Portugal has a regional finder link at www.doulasdeportugal.org. You can also find a short listing of English-speaking doulas and midwives below.
Costs for the delivery of babies in Portugal, along with a hospital stay (if public), can be covered through public health insurance. If you are from a country in the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and are a resident in Portugal, you can use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to travel to your home country to give birth if you have made sufficient Portuguese social security contributions. See our guide to the EHIC for more information.
Babies born in Portugal need to be registered within 20 days at the Portuguese Civil Registry Office; find the closest office here. This can also be done via a government programme, Nascer Cidadao, at the hospital maternity ward where your child was born.
To register your baby in Portugal, you will need the following documents:
- ID or passports of parents of the child
- Birth certificate issued by the maternity ward or place where birth took place
The birth can be legally registered by the parents of the child, a close relative, a legal representative of the parents or an appointed staff member at the place of birth.
If you are a British citizen, you can also register your baby at the British Embassy, which means that the birth will be recorded in the General Registry Office in the UK.
Once your baby is registered at a Portuguese health centre, medical records will be set up to document vaccinations and health checks. Portugal has a national vaccination programme through the Ministry of Health which includes vaccinations at regular intervals up until 18 months and then at five to six years and 10–13 years.
The following diseases are vaccinated against:
- Hepatitis B
- Whooping Cough
- Haemophilus Influenzae
- Streptococcus Pneumoniae
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
- Human Papilloma Virus Infections
There is some availability of postnatal care and classes through Portuguese health centres although not all, so you will need to ask your local health centre on what they provide.
In the past, some expats complained that attitudes toward issues such as breast-feeding versus the use of formula are a bit outdated in Portugal. Parents can visit sites such as the UK’s NHS pregnancy care planner if they are looking for maternity information and advice.
A child born in Portugal automatically acquires Portuguese citizenship if at least one parent was born in Portugal. They will also get automatic citizenship if they don’t possess any other nationality through their parents or if at least one parent has lived in Portugal for five years at the time of their birth. See our guide to citizenship in Portugal for more information.
Most of the costs of having a baby in Portugal will be covered by public health insurance if you are a resident eligible for social security in Portugal. Prenatal classes are not usually subsidised and contributions will need to be made towards any medication.
Pregnant women in Portugal are entitled to a prenatal family allowance from the 13th week of pregnancy, lasting for up to six months. The allowance is means-tested and paid only to residents whose earnings and movable assets are below a certain threshold. The weekly amount received varies according to income but is currently set between around EUR 95 and EUR 150.
If you are a non-resident having a baby in Portugal, you will need to take out private health insurance to cover costs. See our guide to health insurance in Portugal for more information.
New mothers are entitled to maternity leave in Portugal at 100 percent of their pay for 120 consecutive days. They can take a maximum of 30 of these days before the baby’s birth and must take at least 42 days leave (six weeks) after the birth.
Maternity leave in Portugal can be extended by 30 days to 150 days at full pay if:
- the leave after the mandatory 42 days post-birth has been shared between both parents. The additional 30-day period can be taken by both parents.
- The mother has given birth to twins (an extra 30 days is added for each additional birth, eg. 180 days total for triplets, 210 for quadruplets, etc.).
There are also two additional options for taking parental leave in Portugal:
- The parental leave period can be extended to 180 days shared between both parents at a rate of 83 percent of total pay.
- Maternity leave can be extended to 150 days with no shared period, at a rate of 80 percent total pay.
To be entitled to parental leave in Portugal, you must have worked and made at least six months of social security contributions by the time of your claim. Applications for maternity and paternity benefits in Portugal can be made at a local social security office or at a citizen’s shop.
There is also parental social allowance available to those out of work or who have not made enough contributions to be entitled to maternity leave in Portugal. The entitlement period is the same as for standard maternity benefit but is set at rates of 80 percent, 66 percent and 64 percent of the Index of Social Support (EUR 421.32 in 2017).
Read more about the conditions for family and maternity benefits in Portugal, or see the Portuguese Social Security (Seguranca Social) website for information on benefits, allowances and subsidies available to those having a baby in Portugal.
Paternity leave in Portugal is allowed for working fathers for five consecutive days after the birth of the baby, plus an additional 10 days within 30 days of the birth, which do not need to be consecutive. After this period, a father has the option to take leave for an additional 10 consecutive days within the period that the mother is on maternity leave. If twins are born, an additional two days are added to each period for each child.
However, a new father may have the same leave rights as a mother in certain cases: death of the mother, physical or psychological incapability of the mother, a shared decision by both partners to switch roles in taking care of the baby, or in cases where the mother does not claim any maternity benefits.
Nurseries and childcare centres are not that common in Portugal and children aged under three tend to be looked after by family and babysitters. However, there is a range of creches, child care centres, nurseries and kindergartens available in most cities. See our guide to childcare in Portugal for more information.
Some of the most popular Portuguese baby names, according to website NameBerry, are:
Portuguese first names for girls
Portuguese first names for boys
Information on giving birth in Portugal
- www.sns.gov.pt: Website of the Portuguese National Health Service (SNS)
- www.portaldocidadao.pt: Family planning information on the Portuguese citizen’s portal website
- www.ajudademae.pt: Ajuda de Mae (Mother’s Help) website
- www.irn.mj.pt: Information on birth registration in Portugal
- www.cite.gov.pt: Information on parental rights in Portugal
- www.seg-social.pt: Portuguese social security website (section on maternity)
|Ana Raposeira||Leiria, Santarem, Lisbon||934 511 353|
|Celine Rodrigues||Faro, Odemira||964 792 392|
|Maria Jose Valinhas||Aveiro||965 615 501|
|Sarah Moisture||Coimbra, Viseu||968 254 909|
For further information, see the doula-finder at www.doulasdeportugal.org.
Most public Portuguese hospitals also have a maternity ward.
Hospital Cuf Descobertas SA
R Mário Botas, 1998-018 Lisboa. 210 025 200
Centro Hospitalar de Lisboa
Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1169-050 Lisboa. 213 136 300
Hospital da Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa
R Duarte Galvão 54, 1549-008 Lisboa. 217 714 000
Hospital da Luz SA
Avenida Lusíada,nº 100, 1500-650 Lisboa. 217 104 400
Find a list of hospitals in Portugal and conditions for visiting a hospital in Portugal.
Click to the top of our guide to having a baby in Portugal.