Poland’s National Health Fund (NFZ) is the country’s public healthcare provider, and it covers about 93% of Poland’s residents and citizens. It covers most of the costs associated with giving birth in a hospital, from pain relief to several days’ recovery time, and it does not depend on the circumstances of the birth. It even applies for C-section births. For uninsured women, pregnancy and childbirth care is also covered for free.Although you may not have to worry about the costs of childbirth, the process of figuring out where to get care and what options are available can be complicated. Making a birth plan ahead of time is important, so that you and your family can get the care you need.
Overall, maternal care in Poland is excellent. With a maternal mortality rate of only three deaths in every 100,000 births, Poland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.
In Poland, obstetric care can be given by an ob-gyn or a midwife, so long as the midwife is registered at a hospital. Registered midwives can prescribe medication and direct treatment on their own, without needing to consult a doctor. To find one, you can ask your primary care physician for a referral or ask around in your community.
Make sure you specify whether you need a doctor or midwife who speaks English. The Polish website GdzieRodzic.info is a good resource for researching hospitals and doctors. The majority of ob-gyns in Poland are male, so if you’d like a female doctor, be sure to specify that in your search too.
Both home births and hospital births are available, but only hospital births are covered by the NFZ. If a pregnant woman decides that she’d like to give birth in a hospital, she is able to choose which one, as well as which doctor and midwife she’d like. Hospital births are the norm, covering 98% of all births in Poland, and they are mandatory for any pregnancies with complications.
Private hospitals also offer maternity and childbirth plans, and if you have private insurance or are willing to pay out of pocket, you can plan to have your child there.
Once you’ve chosen your healthcare provider, you will create a delivery plan with them that covers who else will be present in the delivery room, whether you consent to the use of medical interventions and anaesthetics, and your preferences for the birth room.
In the months leading up to the birth, the mother usually goes in for monthly check-ups, until month eight, where the check-ups become biweekly. Check-ups usually include three to four ultrasounds over the course of the pregnancy, multiple blood tests (the most recent of which needs to be brought to the hospital for the birth), and a cervical smear near the end of pregnancy.
If by week 40 you haven’t gone into labour, you should visit your doctor or midwife every two to three days for an exam. After 41 weeks, you will be sent directly to a hospital to be induced.
The majority of births in Poland take place in hospitals. Upon checking in, your doctor will go over your vitals, do an examination, and then review your delivery plan. If you’re ready to deliver, you’ll be taken to a birthing room, which might be shared with another mother. Private rooms are usually available for an additional cost.
Mothers cannot choose ahead of time whether they want to have a natural birth or a C-section. C-sections are used only in specific situations, like when there is a lack of progress in a natural birth or when there are issues with the mother’s health.
After you have given birth, you and your child will likely stay in the hospital for about three or four days. Again, this will usually be in a shared room, but a private room can be reserved for an additional fee.
After a few days of being monitored in the hospital, you and your child will be able to return home. The NFZ provides a minimum of four and a maximum of six home visits by a midwife, starting the day after you return from the hospital, to help with care at home. To receive this benefit, new parents need to call their local clinic and register their baby’s birth.
The midwife will help check the baby’s health and physical development, provide advice on caring for a newborn, and connect you with other resources for parenting and raising children.
Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed, and there are breastfeeding clinics in hospitals, as well as options for midwives to help you with breastfeeding during the first few weeks of your child’s life.
Once your baby is two months old, the midwife assigned to your case will forward his or her care duties on to a general practitioner in your area.
In Poland, parents are eligible for up to one year of parental leave, and this can be split between two parents, with at least 14 weeks being mandatory for the mother. It comes with 100% of your usual salary for six months and 60% of your usual salary for six additional months.
You may also be eligible for a newborn allowance (a one-off payment for the birth of a child) and ongoing financial assistance on a monthly basis.
If you would like more information on having a child in Poland, you may like to read I am a mom in Poland, which is specifically aimed at expats living in the country. It covers a whole range of important topics, from pregnancy to the first few weeks of motherhood.