Many expat professionals move to Colombia for the job opportunities there – there are exciting and lucrative positions available in a variety of sectors such as medicine, construction, and energy. English teachers are also always in demand in this Spanish-speaking nation. Living in Colombia has its advantages, such as low cost of living and affordable private healthcare, and there quite a few expat couples who have made the decision to raise families there.Of course, expat couples living and working in destinations other than their country of origin are often faced with a number of questions when they decide to have children abroad. There may be worries about whether the process will be a safe and comfortable one in an unfamiliar country. Giving birth abroad can also have some advantages and disadvantages in terms of the child’s future, such as tax liability, employment opportunities, and access to affordable healthcare.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect if you decide to give birth in Colombia.
The first step in your pregnancy should be to contact your healthcare provider (EPS – Entidades Promotoras de Salud), who can consult the list of doctors and medical facilities working with them and direct you to a general practitioner or a specialist. Your doctor will conduct your first pre-natal check-up. As an expecting mother, you are entitled to monthly check-ups until the 36th week, and one every 15 days until childbirth. Your doctor will schedule these check-ups based on your individual pregnancy. Expecting mothers are also entitled to the necessary laboratory tests, vaccinations and ultrasound scans. Your healthcare provider should also cover the costs of dental check-ups and birth preparation classes. In Colombia, if you have prepaid medical coverage or Medicina Prepagada, you are also eligible for private rooms, home visits, and additional tests and examinations.
It’s a good idea to check beforehand which health facilities are covered by your EPS. At the time of birth, it is usually the specialist who has been with you through the pregnancy who will be present, along with a nurse or midwife. It is not common to have home births in Colombia, but you can choose to do so. Some women also feel more comfortable with the assistance of midwives, called parteras in Colombia.
Healthcare for the newborn
The first health check-up is usually conducted 15 days after birth. For the next two months, there will be a check-up every two weeks, where the doctor monitors the baby’s heartbeat, breathing and reflexes.
After the birth of your baby, you will receive an immunization card, called tarjeta de vacunación, which you need to show each time your baby gets a vaccination. Vaccinations are administered against tuberculosis and hepatitis. You can check the vaccination calendar issued by the Colombian government, which provides information about the age and dosage for all types of vaccinations.
It is important to register your baby’s birth within 30 days as this ensures eligibility for healthcare and other benefits. The process of registering a newborn is automatic in Colombia’s health system, but the parents are required to fill out a form and submit a copy of the birth certificate.
The clinic where you have given birth will provide a certificate of live birth (certificado de nacido vivo). This can be used to obtain the birth certificate (certificado civil de nacimiento) from the registry office. This process does not cost anything and is usually done in the same town as the child’s birth. Your baby will be assigned a unique Personal Identification Number (NUIP), which will be mentioned on all documents that the child acquires throughout life. Your baby’s footprints will also be taken.
Maternity and paternity benefits
Pregnant women are eligible for special protection according to the Labor Code. A pregnant or breastfeeding employee cannot be dismissed. If dismissal occurs within three months of childbirth, the woman must be compensated with an amount equivalent to sixty days’ wages, along with other benefits specified in the employment contract. The Labor Code accords 14 weeks of paid maternity leave and this can begin two weeks prior to the expected delivery date. Fathers are eligible to receive eight days of paid paternity leave, which is completely independent of the leave accorded to the mother.
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