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Switzerland - Birth

The basic health insurance will cover all costs associated with having a baby, including pregnancy check-ups and ultrasound examinations, a contribution towards ante-natal classes, delivery, and breast-feeding consultations. The insurance company does place limits on the number of appointments and midwife visits covered.

You have freedom of choice in Switzerland on where your baby will be born and on the midwife who will assist at the birth. If you wish, you can also obtain a doula to support and aid you before, during, and after the birth. You may have your baby at home (Hausgeburt), in a hospital as either an in-patient (Spitalgeburt) or an out-patient (Ambulante Geburt), or in an independent birthing centre (Geburtshaus). You can additionally have a water birth (Wassergeburt), and Caesarean sections (Kaiserschnitt) are available if required. Be aware that non-standard birthing options may not be covered by the insurance.

Before giving birth you are expected to register at the Civil Registrar (Zivilstandesamt). The father should also be present. You will need to take your own birth certificates (issued within the last 6 months) and identity documents including your residence permit and an official proof of address (Wohnsitzbestätigung) available from the Gemeinde for a fee. Your marriage status will also need to be confirmed on registering a birth, even if you are unmarried (whether a couple or a single parent). In this case you would need to obtain a Certificate of Civil Status (Heimatschein) via your embassy. Birth registration involves a fee of around CHF 180.

There are restrictions on the name you can give your child in Switzerland. If you are a Swiss citizen you will be expected to choose a name that meets the regulations of the Civil Registry and will need to have chosen this in advance or without delay after the birth. Once the name has been officially recorded no name change is possible. The first name must be gender-specific (i.e. no name that could sensibly be given to either a boy or a girl is permitted) and the Civil Registry official must be able to agree that the name is not ridiculous or absurd. The first name cannot be a nickname or a dialect form of a name. The rules for foreign nationals are less strict but names that are considered odd or non-standard by the Civil Registrar may have to be confirmed as being 'normal' names within your home country.

The birth certificate is printed in German, French and Italian and can be obtained through the hospital or your Gemeinde. Request an International birth certificate if you need it to include English. If a B permit holder, you will also need to apply for both a B permit for your baby and a passport from your country of nationality within a few weeks of the birth and will need passport photos of your baby for this.

Abortion is legal in Switzerland and at time of writing was covered by the health insurance company. As might be expected, public and political opinion on whether this should be the case is mixed, and there will be a national referendum in 2011. In 2002 80% of voters were against changing the law to make abortion more difficult to obtain. Despite these debates, Switzerland is reported to have the lowest abortion rate in Western Europe.

Forum Geburt
Information on pregnancy and birth in Switzerland
Forum Geburt, Herrengasse 4, 7000 Chur
Tel: +41 (0)81 252 88 66
Email: mail@forum-geburt.ch

Doula Geburtsbegleitung (CH Doula Information Centre)
Individual assistance and support during pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond
Tel: +41 (0)844 789 123
Email: info@doula.ch

Geburtshaus (Birthing Centre)
Indpendent birthing centres in Switzerland
See website for individual centre contact details

Read more about this country

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