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Spain - Birth

One of the main things to consider when having a baby in Spain is the type of healthcare that you want to opt for. Public healthcare is very good, but those who would prefer private healthcare need to have the policy in place for at least 10 months prior to becoming pregnant as many insurers will not offer cover after this time. Public hospitals do offer translation services for those who need them.

It is important to consult with a doctor or midwife when you become pregnant. This initial visit will confirm the pregnancy and give you an initial health check, including blood tests and ultra sound scan. After this it is normal to see the doctor or midwife every 4 weeks until the 32nd week of pregnancy. After this date it is usual in most regions to have an appointment every 2 weeks. If there are any complications suspected then the appointments will be weekly. Another ultra sound scan will be carried out at 36 weeks. There is a compulsory test between the 34th and the 36th week of pregnancy for the streptococcus virus. This is standard in state hospitals but in private hospitals a request must be made for the test.

Pre-natal classes are also offered and most clinics have a comprehensive programme for this. This prepares the mother for labour and caring for the baby after the birth. These classes usually begin at around the 28th week of pregnancy.

When planning the birth it is often not possible to choose a specific hospital unit if you are with a public hospital although the standard of care is excellent. Doctors in the private sector may work out of only one unit, which would limit the choice. Some private clinics will also not be available in the case of premature labour as they do not have specialist units to deal with early babies. Home births are not an option in Spain.

In Spain, most new mothers will stay in hospital for a minimum of two days. There will be at least two medical checks carried out on the new baby before he/she leaves the hospital. Those who give birth by caesarean should expect to stay in hospital for around 5 days. When the mother and child are discharged from the hospital there will be a yellow form given to the mother for registration of the birth. An infant record book is also issued, for the recording of the child’s medical history until the age of 18. At the age of 1 week the newborn undergoes a blood test to determine if there are any genetic problems. This test is only carried out in public hospitals.

A newborn baby must be registered within 8 days of the birth but it is occasionally acceptable for the birth to be registered within 30 days. The registration is carried out at the local registry office (registro civil) and it is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that this is done, although in some cases it is acceptable for the hospital or midwife to register the birth. There are regulations regarding the naming of a child and names that may be harmful or confusing are not permitted. The details to be given include the name, the place and time of birth, gender, the parent’s details and the number which has been assigned to the birth file.

The certificate needs to indicate the legitimacy of a child. If the child is born within 6 months of their parent’s marriage or within 300 days of the official end of a marriage then they are considered to be legitimate. Documents are required to register a birth, including the yellow form, the foreigner’s identification number of the parents, their marriage certificate or the family book, if one is available. If the parent’s are not married then proof of the mother’s marital status is required and details of a divorce if the mother has been married before.

There are two types of birth certificate. A short version (un extracto de inscripcion de nacimiento) which gives basic information or the full certificate (un certificado literal de naciemiento) which will be needed for registration of the birth at your home country’s consulate.

Abortion has been legal in Spain only since July 2010. It can only be carried out during the first trimester of pregnancy. Prior to July 2010 abortion was only available in certain circumstances such as rape, incest, fears for the mental health of the mother, deformities in the foetus or danger to the physical health of either the mother or the child. If a girl aged 16 or 17 wants to have an abortion her parents can be informed, although their permission is not required. There were protests at the changes in the law but the law was passed anyway.

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