If you’re expecting a baby in Barcelona, you can do your prenatal checks through the public healthcare system or through private heath insurance. It’s not compulsory to have private insurance in Spain, however many people choose to have it to have broader access to English speaking healthcare specialists. Both public and private healthcare in Spain is a very high standard. Amaia Jauregui, a native of Spain and founder of By your side BCN, a one-stop shop for all things pre and postnatal, has written this guide for MumAbroad about having a baby in Barcelona.
Pregnancy and public healthcare
You can access public healthcare if you’re working and living in Spain (part of the taxes of your salary are assigned to Public Health coverage), if you’re married to someone working in Spain or if you’re living in Spain and are pregnant, amongst other criteria. There are no time restrictions as long as one of the criteria is being met. Maternity health services are available in your local health centre known as CAP (Centro de Atencion Primaria).
Your pregnancy will be followed by a midwife who will inform you of the overall pregnancy process, upcoming tests and the number of visits programmed. If it’s a low-risk pregnancy, you will more likely have one appointment during the first two trimesters and more regularly towards the end of the pregnancy.
There are some prenatal care courses available in most CAPs in Barcelona – birth preparation courses and breastfeeding introduction. It’s a nice way to meet other expectant parents and build a little community. Most of these courses are held in Spanish or Catalan so the language barrier might be an issue if you’re not fluent in the local languages.
Pregnancy and private healthcare
Most insurance companies have a minimum time restriction (6-12 months) in order to access maternity cost coverage. You should check the conditions with your private insurance company. Maternity health services are normally located in private clinics or private doctor’s offices. Unlike the public healthcare system, the pregnancy is followed up by a doctor (obstetrician) and only at the end of the pregnancy, you will be seen by a midwife.
The number of checkups, tests and scans tend to be higher in private healthcare than the public system. You almost have check ups every month in private healthcare. Depending on the clinic, there are some prenatal courses available for expectant parents that you can check with your doctor. Prenatal courses are normally recommended from week 25 onwards.
Birthing options in Barcelona
There are several options for giving birth in Barcelona from bigger hospitals to smaller private clinics all with different characteristics.
Big hospitals in the city are run by the public healthcare system. Completely natural childbirth tends to be more common in Barcelona’s public hospitals and midwives play a bigger role as long as it relates to a non-high-risk delivery. Each district has an assigned public hospital so if you have done prenatal checkups through the public system (CAP), you should check with your midwife which hospital is assigned to you. If you have a preferred public hospital that is far from where you live, you will need a referral from your doctor or midwife to be able to register there. Hospital de la Maternitat, Sant Joan de Deu and Hospital del Mar are highly regarded public hospitals in Barcelona.
They are associated with smaller clinics, better facilities and private rooms. Each clinic has its own characteristics and if you have been doing the follow up within the clinic, your doctor will inform you of the delivery options available and the professional team involved. In case you’ve been doing the follow up through the Public CAP or somewhere external, your midwife/doctor will share your clinical case with the Hospital/Clinic in which you decided you will give birth.
Home births are not common in Spain and it’s not covered by Social Security. In case you want to opt for a home birth, you will need to hire a midwife at your own cost. They provide several services and they will be by your side throughout the whole process of giving birth as well as prenatal and postnatal care depending on your needs. Barcelona Midwife and Barcelona Midwife Sage-femme Comadrona are highly recommended by the International community living in Barcelona.
The standard number of days at the hospital tend to be from 3 to 5 days. During those first days, a number of tests will be performed to track the newborns’ health and condition. Nurses also look after mothers’ self-care and topics such as breastfeeding.
Postnatal support at home after you leave the hospital is very limited. You will have follow up appointments to do checkups on the baby and the mother but there’s no support arranged at home like in other countries where a professional comes and takes care of the mother and the baby during the first days. That’s why women often rely on family networks to overcome these first weeks. It’s important, especially for those not having that family support around to find the community that will help you navigate through this very special period full of intense emotions and contradictions.
Motherhood can make you feel lonely and isolated and feeling the support of those going through the same can make a difference. There are plenty of active groups in Barcelona arranging playdates and gatherings to help build the community you need for your family. Check Facebook, there are many family-oriented groups based in Barcelona that can be very helpful including Barcelona Babies & Kids and Barcelona Mamas.
By your side BCN
If you’re having difficulties finding your way around in the city and knowing what’s available, By your side BCN can assist you in finding the right service for your family. We help international families find the support they need in baby-related topics in Barcelona during pregnancy and early years. Topics as relevant as the ones mentioned below:
We understand the importance of finding the right accompaniment in such sensitive topics and our mission is to make you feel at ease. Not knowing where to start or what services are available adds unnecessary stress and uncertainty. We offer advice around those areas and the best options relevant to you based on our research and community connections.
Do you feel like you could do with some help and have questions you want to ask? Do you want to know more about what we do? We offer a free 20 min discovery call to understand what you’re looking for and what we can do for you.