The journey of pregnancy can be wonderful, eye-opening, and let’s face it, scary and stressful at times. If you don’t know the process for the numerous maternity appointments that you’re going to have to attend, that can add to your stresses. Especially if you’re in a different country, where you don’t know the rules or procedures. This post will clear up your doubts about the process and erase your worries. Read below for a step-by-step guide to maternity appointments in Spain.
Public vs. Private Healthcare in Spain
As an expat in Spain living and working in Spain, you can go through the public health system or buy private health insurance. With the public system, most of your appointments will go through your assigned doctor at your local healthcare center (centro de salud) and the hospital nearest you. In the private system, you will instead go to the private doctors or hospitals of your choosing.
Although the process will be similar in the public or private health system in Spain, there are a few great reasons to get private maternity insurance in Spain: private rooms, more scans, doctors that speak your language. This can be a big relief at a time when your only worry should be the health of yourself and your baby. Caser maternity insurance is one of the best options for expats in Spain.
Call your doctor at your healthcare center
Before getting pregnant, I told the doctor at my health center that we were thinking about starting a family, and she prescribed me the prenatal vitamins that I would need. It is always a good idea to get informed on family planning before getting pregnant. However, if you are already trying to for a baby or are pregnant, the first thing you should do is call your doctor to report your suspected pregnancy. They will schedule you an appointment at the gynecologist.
First scan with your gynecologist
At your first visit to the gynecologist, they will do a scan to confirm your pregnancy. Normally, this scan will be performed by a technician, while the gynacologist supervises. Then, they will likely ask you about your medical history and family history in order to determine the best course of action for your pregnancy. You will also be provided with an explanation about being pregnant, possible testing and vaccines, the details of your next appointments, etc. At this visit, the gynecologist will help you schedule upcoming visits with your midwife (matrona) and obstetrician.
Monitor pregnancy and do ultrasounds with your obstetrician
You will see an obstetrician at your local hospital to monitor the evolution of the pregnancy and go over ultrasound results (performed at the same hospital by a technician). In the Spanish public healthcare system, you do one ultrasound per trimester. In the private healthcare system, you are usually able to schedule more scans.
I did a series of 3 standard ultrasounds and consultations at the hospital over the course of my pregnancy. There is a 12-week scan and checkup, including a genetic study and risk assessment for down syndrome. Around 16-20 weeks, you will be able to learn the baby’s gender and at 20-24 weeks there is an anatomy scan to make sure everything is developing correctly. Your final ultrasound will be during your third trimester, but they may decide to perform fetal monitoring more often if you are approaching or have passed your due date.
Do blood tests and other tests at the hospital
You have to get blood drawn every so often to make sure your levels remain constant, monitor your risk, etc. This is a quick process (waiting typically takes longer than actually getting blood taken), performed by a nurse at your local hospital, with the results sent to your doctor or obstetrician for review during a follow-up consultation.
Other common tests that may be performed include:
- Genetic study and risk assessment for down syndrome.
- Glucose test to test blood sugar levels and your gestational diabetes risk. In Spanish, this is called “la curva”. The process involves taking your blood, drinking a sugary drink, then extracting blood again, all within the span of an hour.
- Monitoring blood pressure and weight, as rapid changed can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.
- Vaccine administration, including the flu shot and tosferina.
- Strep B vaginal and anal swab.
- Biophysical test, stress test.
Consider if you need other specialists
Any other specialists should be mentioned at the gynecologist and obstetrician. For example, if you have a history of blood clots in your family, you should mention this at your very first appointment, so they can assess your risk and send you to a hematologist if necessary. Any previous pregnancies, illnesses, or problems should always be brought up so that your doctor has the full picture when assessing your maternity healthcare journey. I would highly recommend knowing the entire medical history of your parents and any family illnesses in order to report these to your doctor.
Get information from your midwife
You will get to see the midwife every few months to monitor the little details of your pregnancy, ask questions, take your blood pressure and weight, administer any vaccines, etc. They will give you information on the hospital you’ll give birth at, your birth plan, vaccine information, prenatal classes, maternity clothes and supplies, and more.
To learn more about creating a birth plan, read this blog post.
To learn more about your hospital bag and maternity clothes, click here.
Now that you know more about what you’re likely to face during your pregnancy, you’ll be much more prepared. Remember, it is essential to attend all maternity appointments in Spain so that your health and your baby’s health are being monitored and avoid any problem or complication. Good luck during your pregnancy journey, here’s hoping you have an amazing experience! If you want additional information about becoming an expat mom in Spain, discover the free Caser pre-birth checklist below.
If you are searching for health insurance in Spain, Caser Expat Insurance has the right policy for you!