If you’re giving birth in Moscow or around Russia, here’s a guide to Russian maternity healthcare, prenatal and postnatal care, delivery, and maternity and paternity leave in Russia.
Russian maternity care might be a little different to what you are familiar with but Russian healthcare provides high-standard options for childbirth that should help make your pregnancy in Moscow a stress-free experience.
Maternity and childbirth care in Moscow
When pregnant in Moscow, expectant parents have a choice between giving birth in one of the municipal maternity hospitals or in a private hospital. If cost is a deciding factor, Moscow’s state-run hospitals and clinics are free to any foreign national with a permanent registration in Moscow and compulsory medical insurance (CMI).
Care in these municipal hospitals falls under the governance of the Moscow Department of Health and its public facilities are mostly better than their rural counterparts, although some expats opt for private maternity healthcare as state facilities are not always up to par with western medical standards or don’t often have English-speaking staff on call.
Private hospitals and international medical centres can be costly but typically offer improved maternity facilities, higher quality of care and more frequent services, including additional examinations during pregnancy. You can typically access private facilities if you have a private health insurance policy but check that your desired hospital or clinic is in your insurance company’s list of approved health facilities before your first check-up.
Prenatal care in Moscow
If you think you may be pregnant, the first step is to confirm the pregnancy. You can do this at any hospital in Moscow with maternity facilities. Not all hospitals in Moscow have maternity wards and the Perinatal Medical Centre (PMC) is fast becoming the specialist in maternity care.
The administration and care you will receive at all maternity hospitals is primarily in Russian, although you may find that an appointed gynaecologist speaks a degree of English. International medical centres, however, typically have staff members who speak English if needed.
You will attend the maternity hospital of your choice at regular stages during the pregnancy for routine tests, so choosing one close to your residence or work place is advisable. Many public hospitals in the heart of Moscow tend to be overcrowded, which in such cases it is advisable to choose a reputable hospital a little outside of the city centre.
You can reach out to your network and other fellow expats when selecting a doctor or midwife to help you throughout pregnancy and delivery. You will need to make your own arrangements if you have specific requirements or need a medical professional or midwife who can communicate in your preferred language.
During the early stages of your pregnancy, you will be given a certificate by your doctor and you should carry this with you throughout the nine-month cycle as it will contain all of the information regarding the tests that are carried out. You should discuss the maternity process with your doctor to understand what to expect during pregnancy until after giving birth; this can help identity if there are any differences to what you would expect at home.
Delivery: Giving birth in Moscow
You should head to your chosen maternity hospital once signs of labour begin. Once you arrive you will be taken to a maternity ward and cared for by the medical staff. It is advisable to have a birth plan written in advance and given to the hospital, so they are familiar with and can try to accommodate your requirements, including whether you want an epidural – which generally comes with an extra cost – or if you wish the father to be present at the birth, which does not always happen in Russia, where fathers sometimes have to wait a few days before seeing their partner and newborn. Recently, there has been an increase of family wards in Russia where fathers can stay with their wives and babies.
The medical staff will be on hand throughout the period of labour, but your gynecologist will only be present as the birth approaches.
After the birth, it is typical for mother and baby to stay in the maternity ward for at least three days. It should be no more than five days before you are released home. Some hospitals will allow you to leave before three days have passed, but you may be asked to sign a disclaimer to do so.
Hospital births are the most common birthing option in Russia compared to home births, water births and other alternatives.
Post-natal aftercare in Moscow
After delivering your baby, mothers usually receive in-depth care from medical staff, with nurses sometimes even taking extra time to provide assistance. If you opt for private maternity healthcare, check whether your private health insurance affords you post-natal care at a private hospital and book in advance if it does.
Once at home, a local and district pediatric nurse will make several visits to check on the progress of both mother and baby after being discharged from a state hospital.
Babies will be immunised against several diseases with the service being provided either by the public health care system (free) or through private hospitals (at a cost). Russia doesn’t have a set vaccine schedule for children but you can enquire about which vaccines are available and when they should be administered.
Registering your baby’s birth
One of the first things you should do after the birth is acquire your baby’s birth certificate from the civil registry office, locally known as Zapis Aktov Grazhdanskogo Sostoyaniya (ZAGS). The closest one to the PMC is at 13/12 Profsoyuznaya Ulitsa. You can call the ZAGS office before visiting to check their opening hours and paperwork required for registration. At least one parent must go in person and, advisably, accompanied by a Russian speaker.
You would typically need to bring the following documents on your visit:
- Baby’s hospital birth certificate
- A translated and notarised copy of your marriage certificate
- Translated and notarised copies of your passport/s
- A copy of your Russian visa registration forms
- Registration fee in cash.
After obtaining a birth certificate, you can then register your baby at your embassy. Doing so will ensure that your child receives a passport for the country where you are a national, or other countries if applicable, as well as Russian citizenship.
You should contact your embassy or consulate before giving birth to determine what the process entails. You will normally need to bring the following documents:
- Birth certificate obtained from the ZAGS office
- Hospital records
- Birth certificates of both parents
- Completed birth registration form
- Parents’ passports and other identification .
Maternity and paternity leave in Russia
Working mothers in Russia are entitled to 140 days of maternity leave. The leave begins 70 days before the pregnancy due date and continues for an additional 70 days after the completion of the first half of the entitlement, should the birth occur earlier than expected (or 84 days for multiple births). During the 140-day period, women receive 100 percent of their wages. Additional days can be added to your maternity leave in the event of multiple births (194 days in total) or if you run into some complications. Women are also protected from dismissal during their maternity leave.
Fathers, however, sacrifice their entire salary during the time they are absent from work as there are no laws guaranteeing paternity leaves in Russia.
The Social Insurance Fund or Fond Socialnovo Strahovanya Rosiyskoy Federaciy handles maternity leaves and benefits. You can visit their website for more information.
Insurance to cover maternity costs in Russia
Russia has a good public health insurance system that covers most costs associated with childbirth. There is also private health insurance for those not covered by state-funded schemes and those wanting additional private coverage. International companies that offer insurance plans covering maternity costs to expats in Russia include:
Helpful pregnancy-related terms in Russian
- Baby: detka
- Doctor: vrach
- Epidural: jepidural’nyj
- I am pregnant: Ya byeryemyenna
- Midwife: akusherka
- Pregnancy: beremennost
- To breastfeed: grudnoe vskarmlivanie
- To give birth: rodit’
For more Russian terms, see Expatica’s Russian medical dictionary of terms you should know to see the doctor.
You can also read about what to expect when giving birth in Moscow as an expat and tips on staying safe while pregnant during a Russian summer.