Healthcare for expats looking into having a baby in Spain is a theme that often comes up and concerns a large number of people. In fact, expats living in Spain are almost 3 million and make up almost 6% of the population.
Luckily, Spanish healthcare is not only free for those who work and live in Spain, contributing to taxes and social security, but it is also of a high standard. A legal resident who is working in Spain can take advantage of state healthcare, which is a great help when planning a pregnancy. Public Spanish healthcare covers many areas, spanning from social welfare services also dedicated to expats to maternity services.
Spain offers all the necessary antenatal tests and scans compliant with high standards of care, both publicly and privately. However, women who wish to take advantage of services offered by private clinics are usually required to have a private insurance policy in order to cover all necessary maternity costs.
Larger cities, such as Madrid or Barcelona, provide fully comprehensive facilities which assist the mother from the prenatal phase to the birth. Most births traditionally occur in a hospital, with home births being rarely available in Spain. If the pregnancy was unwanted due to lack of contraception or in the case of defective family planning, clinics and hospitals in cities are equipped to deal with termination of pregnancy.
Before arranging for routine blood tests, scans and tests, contacting a doctor or primary physician center is absolutely necessary in order to effectively confirm the pregnancy and proceed with examinations. Following confirmation, all tests will be arranged. Appointments are usually held once a month, with progress recorded in a special consultation document. From the eighth month of pregnancy onwards, frequency of appointments should increase to two every month.
Future mothers are also scanned for a number of diseases, such as HIV, diabetes and toxoplasmosis. A test for streptococcus B, compulsory in state hospitals, will also be carried out closer to the birth.
Prenatal classes are also available from the 25th week of pregnancy, usually; however, they are generally conducted in Spanish. In larger cities, it may be possible to find prenatal classes in other languages, such as English.
Giving Birth and Maternity Leave
Mothers visiting the hospital to give birth need to visit the emergency ward, with their passport, necessary paperwork and foreign identification number. Keep in mind that it is not always possible to find English-speaking staff, so, if possible, having someone who can translate can be an asset.
Epidurals are available, but other methods using gas or air are not. Birth is a traditional process, so alternative methods such as water births are not particularly common. Most mothers will leave the hospital within five days, during which probably two checks will have been done on the newborn.
In order to be able to benefit from the standard maternity leave of 16 weeks, it is necessary to pay contributions for a set period of time which varies according to age (zero days for mothers under 21, 90 days fro mothers aged 21-26 and 180 for mothers over 26). Furthermore, it is necessary to make sure that Spanish health insurance and social security is sorted out, otherwise it is not possible to receive the maternity leave and maternity care.
Overall, having a baby as an expat in Spain is a relatively simple and secure process, if all the necessary preparations are made. The Spanish healthcare system provides most of the necessary services, allowing the parents to benefit from a stress-free pregnancy.