The administrative details you need to know if you are giving birth in Spain. Who to contact and what to expect from the system through the pregnancy. Pre-natal care, mid-wives, delivery and vaccinations.

This article guides you through some of the processes and administrative details of having a baby in Spain – the more personal decisions on how, where and who are, just that, personal.

Before conception or in the early stages of pregnancy it is recommended to explore the options available and consider the following:

• Where to receive the best care during pregnancy

• Where is the safest place to deliver the baby

• Who can provide the best post natal care

• What entitlements are there under the social health care system

• What coverage may be provided by private health care

There are both social and private clinics in all areas of Spain. A person not entitled to social health care has the option of private care. This choice may be influenced by insurance cover and the cost of individual services. Many people are entitled to social health care but are naturally worried if they don’t speak Spanish which can raise safety aspects as important things may be misunderstood.

Pre-Natal Care

As soon as a pregnancy is suspected, consult a doctor or midwife. This visit is to confirm the pregnancy, examine the expectant mother to organise routine blood tests and an early ultra sound scan.

Generally (although this may vary) pre-natal examinations will be given by a doctor or midwife:

• every 4 weeks until week 28

• every 2 weeks until week 36

• weekly until delivery

The midwife provides a great source of support to the expectant mother. If possible choose a clinic that has a doctor and midwife team which provides continuity of care. The reason for regular pre-natal care is to continually monitor maternal and foetal well-being, to monitor the progress of pregnancy and for early detection of deviations from normal.

Pre-Natal Education

This is a vital part of pre-natal care. Women who receive professional pre-natal education and preparation invariably fair better in labour. Ensure that the chosen clinic offers a complete pre-natal education programme. This will be provided by the midwife and is a vital part of pre-natal care. The course should include preparation for labour (what to expect), breathing and relaxation techniques and preparation for infant feeding.

Where to Deliver the Baby

Although it is seldom possible to choose a particular unit at a Social Security hospital these hospitals tend to offer a very high standard of care, with emergency personnel services readily available.

When choosing a delivery unit the following should be considered:

• Which unit has the highest safety record

• Whether there is a paediatrician resident in the unit 24 hours a day

• If there are facilities for intensive neonatal care

• The Caesarean section rate

• The methods of pain relief available

In the private sector, the chosen obstetrician may only deliver care in one particular unit. This would limit the choice.

Following normal vaginal delivery without complications mother and baby can expect to be discharged home within 24 hours. Following Caesarean section the stay in hospital may be from three to five days. On discharge from hospital, the paperwork in order to register the baby, advice on vaccinations, and an infant record book which records the infant’s health from birth to 18 years of age is issued.

The following vaccinations are recommended: tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, (Difteria, tétano, tos farina), Haemophilus B (Haemophilus influenzae tipo B), MMR (Sarampión, paperas, rubeola) TB (BCG). Immunisation policy may vary in the different autonomous regions of Spain.

Home Births

Home births are generally not available in Spain.

Next month in part two, the post-natal period: registration of births, maternity leave and benefits.

The full article, including links to Social Security websites, the Tax Agency, registration of birth, birth certificate forms and more detailed information on this subject including the post-natal period: registration of births, maternity leave and benefits are available at

Information supplied by Dawn Blythe S.R.N. R.M. (UK), a British trained midwife who has worked with expatriate communities worldwide. Currently with The English Medical Clinic, Albir.

This article is an extract from an AngloINFO INFOrmation sheet

The latest updates are available at

Bill Boyd

Director AngloINFO Costa Calida

(Copyright © 2009 AngloINFO Limited. All Rights Reserved)