Having a Baby in Spain
You might think that having a baby in Spain is the same as having a baby in the UK or any other country, but there are a number of
big differences. In particular, pregnancy and childbirth are a lot more medicalised here than in the UK - many more ante-natal
tests are performed as standard, and intervention rates during childbirth are high.
As in the UK, maternity services and practices in Spain vary greatly from region to region. The following guide is based
on expats' experiences in Malaga and Granada.
Spanish Maternity Services
As mentioned in the article about healthcare in Spain, most maternity
services are not covered by
a European Health Insurance Card, so if you are pregnant, or if you plan to get pregnant while living in
Spain, get your social security or health insurance sorted out
as soon as possible.
Once you discover you are pregnant, you need to make an appointment as soon as possible with your doctor.
In some doctor's surgeries,
there is a community midwife who deals with all ante-natal appointments so tell the receptionist that you are
pregnant when you make the appointment.
You will generally have some kind of ante-natal appointment once a month: often you'll have an appointment
with the midwife
one month, and an appointment at the local hospital for a scan the next. You will also be asked for blood and
urine tests once a
month, including a diabetes test, tests for toxoplasmosis and an HIV test. Towards the end of your pregnancy
you may be asked for a swab (to test for streptocuccus B virus) and you may have several "monitoring"
When the time comes for the birth, you need to get to the local hospital (go in via "urgencias"), where you will be taken to the labour
ward. It is highly recommended that you take somebody who speaks good Spanish with you, who can ask any questions for you or tell the
hospital staff about your wishes. This is particularly important if you have any strong feelings about, for example, episiotomies (given as standard
without consent in most hospitals) or medical intervention in general. be aware that gas and air is not given in Spanish maternity hospitals, although
epidurals and pethidine are available.
Experiences of Pregnancy and Birth in Spain
"I was quite worried about the idea of having a baby in Spain. In particular I was worried about pain relief, since I wanted gas and air,
but they don't have that in Spain and there was nothing I could do about that.
"I had my first baby in Marbella hospital, which is extremely modern and run by a private company even though it accepts
social security patients. It is rather like a hotel, but because it's private, they are very strict on patients who are not
registered with social security (I know because I tried to get an ante-natal appointment there before I was registered properly).
The midwife spoke English - most didn't though, I was lucky - and the care was good, if not at all what I was expecting. I had an epidural and the baby
was eventually born by ventuose - my husband was sent out of the room at that point, but to be honest after two hours of pushing I was past caring.
Very little in the way of
help was offered on the ward after the baby was born though." - Sam, Marbella.
"I had a baby in Granada hospital and it was very strange. I did as the midwives said - I didn't have the energy to argue - and the birth
was rather like births are in old videos - stirrups, lots of nurses (or possibly cleaners, I don't know),
and a special room (a "nido" - "nest") for the new born babies. I had had some pretty decent ante-natal care, so I suppose the hospital
came as a bit of a shock.There was not much in the way of choice or natural childbirth, but the after care was good
and the baby and I were fine, which is the important thing.
To anyone thinking of having a baby in Spain, my advice would be to
look into the possiblility of a private midwife (not a private hospital, as they are more or less the same as public hospitals) or else not
to worry about it. Care in Spain may not be the same as in the UK but it is generally good." - Lucy, Granada
"In Gran Canaria, we have only Epidural, and I have to say that one of the strangest things (and distressing I feel for the mother) is the
fact that during a C-Section, the father can not be present. In either a planned or an emergency one. (Thankfully this is something I
have managed to avoid, but for some it must be quite upsetting.) We also seem to have an over-run of students who are apparently allowed
in to see your birth whether you want them to or not.
"You can only give birth in one position.....lying down! Proven to be one of the worst for baby and gravity. After my epidural,
I couldn't move so took 36 hours to give birth!!! Nice! So no to home birth, no to water birth, walking round, sitting, eating, drinking etc.
I was there for over a day, and didn't eat or drink in nearly 24 hours, only allowed to suck ice cubes!Only one midwife for
Mogan/Arguineguin/Puerto Rico area - and no stress on the six weekly check up. (I didn't know I needed to go, and never saw my midwife
again.) Information is not their strong point here in GC, and ante-natal classes virtually non-existent!" - Jo, Gran Canaria
Having a baby in Spain - handy phrases
Midwife: matrona / comadrona
Epidural: epidural (stress on "al")
Maternity scan dept in hospital: tocología
To give birth: dar a luz (literally "to give light")
Birth: el parto
To be x months pregnant: estar embarazada de x méses
To breastfeed: dar el pecho
Social security in Spain