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Having a baby in Spain..want to hear your experiences

(35 Posts)
Figfingers Wed 16-Jul-08 14:26:24

Ok.. I will admit it´s early days as I have just come off the pill so realistically we will start TTC in April next year.

Been living in Southern Spain for almost a year and don´t know any expats so wondering what the experience is like (never been to doctor here).

I´m booked for a routine check up in acouple of weeks but v, curious about giving birth (choices, CS,etc), ante natal, care, etc.


bebespain Wed 16-Jul-08 15:43:26

Hi there FF

I had my DS 18 months ago in Hospital de la Serranía which is in Ronda so have first hand experience of giving birth in Andalucia.
Before I go on, how honest do you want me to be...?

costamum Wed 16-Jul-08 18:03:10

Hi - I've had my 2 DS's in Seville - I think the main thing to remember is that the whole process is, as far as I can tell, completely different to the UK!

Figfingers Thu 17-Jul-08 10:41:58

Hi BebeSpain.

Yup.. as honest as you can ¡.


Have heard how totally different it is.Please spill the beans.


costamum Thu 17-Jul-08 21:43:42

Pain relief is either epidural or nothing! They don't seem to use gas/air here. Episotomies are standard - the second time round I did ask why and they are pretty convinced it prevents any further complications or extra damage to the area!

You give birth in the 'standard' position ie your feet in stirrups and on your back. I don't think this has changed since I last had my DS, nearly 4 years ago - maybe BebeSpain can enlighten you on that. No water births or anything vaguely unconventional here - perhaps private hospitals are different though.

Once baby is born they sort of leave it to you to work out (!) the rest - if you're lucky on the first night you'll get a bit of help from the only nurse on duty but I think mainly they expect you to have your family around to help out. What I did appreciate is that my DH could spend the night in my room so I wasn't alone!

The midwives don't do home visits after the birth - you'll get an appointment to go and see them.

That's just a bit - let me know if you want to know more!

costamum Thu 17-Jul-08 21:44:26

Forgot to add, don't let that put you off though!

bebespain Fri 18-Jul-08 08:02:07

costamum - spot on there with your description

Giving birth here is seen as a medical procedure

I would also add that the rate of C-Secs is pretty high and in my case that´s exactly what I got. I found the attitude in the hospital was very much "let´s get on with it, another one "done" as soon as poss" In my case I found they were very quick to do a c-sec when I wasn´t progressing as well as they wanted - probably beacause I was terrfied, left alone in a room all night without a midwife in sight hmm

I am still convinced I wouldn´t have had a section had I been in England....guess I´ll never know...

Anyway as costamum says you really are left alone once baby is born, no home visits, post-natal checks, baby clinics - nada. In my case I didn´t even get a midwife appointment. For example you take your baby to be weighed at the chemist. I found all this pretty scary, the fact that there is no one out there to give you a boost, tell you everything´s OK etc being a first time Mum is a major thing after all

As far as I am aware its exactly the same in the private hospitals. We live in Madrid now so much bigger hospitals etc and its the same so in my case it wasn´t just because I was at the small local hospital.

Having said all that - ante-natal care was very good and I was given extra tests as standard which I believe isn´t always the norm in the UK - strep B test is done as standard here.

In summary if you are like me and appreciate a warm, reassuring and supportive approach to having a baby then you will be bitterly disappointed. I found most of the health professionals I encountered were as hard as nails, no exceptions made for being a first timer just another one in a long line and I found that very hard to cope with. As long as the baby is OK (of course) then mother can go and whistle!

Sorry if I sound negative but I wanted to be honest with you. If I had realised how things were here I would have gone back to England for the birth

Figfingers Sat 19-Jul-08 16:41:48

Bebe & Costa

Thanks for that. Can't pretend it does not scare me but I guess I sort of expected it...

I am now considering going private but still have lots of time to think about it.

A relief to know that ante natal is quite good.

Thanks very much...

bebespain Sat 19-Jul-08 20:22:53

No probs Fig, glad to be of help wink

I read an article recently that said Spain is 20 years behind the times shock and the country that takes least notice of World Health recommendations when it comes to giving birth shock

macaco Mon 21-Jul-08 08:57:07

Hi FF. I live in Seville and have a 4 month old DS. I would have to say I both agree and disagree with previous posters. I agree pre natal care is better than post, although I did get a lot of help in hosapital with breast fedding. Also, maybe I was just lucky but I found I was well looked after while in hospital, the food was and plentiful and the nurses were kind. What can be hard in hospital is sharing a room when the room mate has a million noisy visitors at all hours (visiting hours don't saeem to exist)
In terms of the actual birth I had a good experience although not as i had planned! It all went very fast and got to hospital 5cm dilated contractions every 2 mins. Then proceeded to dilate at the speed of light (gave birth 1hr 40mins after arriving at hospital!). Ds's heartrate dropped low and he was OP and wouldn't descend so I had a ventouse, so needed an episiostomy and I tore. But I have to say I felt very looked after the whole time and as far as an epi and a 2nd degree tear it was all a bit of an emergency and I was very well stitched afterwards.
Remember that infant/mother mortality is loower in Spain, one up side of the medicalisation. My hospital was very clean and I was given pad changes every couple of hours, was checked every day or a couple of times a day. Helped to the loo etc.
I think your birth experience will depend on a lot of different factors:
the baby grin for a start...could be breech or OP and throw your plans out a bit
if you speak Spanish and to what extent
which hospital you use....the one in Úbeda in Jaen is very forward thinking for examnple. Virgen del Rocio in Seville talks the talk on natural birth
Things are changing here.. Virgen del rocio is to be renovated and include birth pools.

Inform yourself as much as you can. Write a birth plan, this site helps you (in Spanish)
Then be prepared for things to take an unexpected turn
And good luck and don't be put off. I'd have been frightened by the idea of the birth I had but it was fine. I'm planning no 2 for a couple of years ahead and would use the seg soc here without a second thought.


costamum Mon 21-Jul-08 10:36:58

Yes Macao is right though - things are changing in certain aspects - I gave birth both times in the Virgen Macarena in Seville.

The first time was a bit more worrying - at the time I spoke a lot less spanish - had to have a forceps delivery and though I wanted to breast feed I wasnt' given much help at all - its harder than it looks!!!! They kept telling me to give him a bottle because he wasn't taking to the breast. The second time around was in 2004 and everything went a lot better - maybe because I understood what was going on and maybe because it was the 2nd time round.

The real difference is that I noticed was that they were really pro-breastfeeding and really helped out. I don't know if that is important to you or not but it was to me and I was really pleased when it all worked out.

I was lucky enough to have my own room both times but that was because my father in law used to work there! Oh the Spanish and their 'enchufes'!

Anyway, although there are some points that you might or might not like it is the same everywhere - if I had stayed in England I might have eventually given birth at Northwick Park hospital (was near where I used to live!) and I have read some real horror stories about the maternity dept. there and was ever so glad to be here!

So like I said you mustn't let these differences put you off and as Macaco said things are changing and Spain is catching up with the times!

macaco Mon 21-Jul-08 17:53:19

There was an article I posted here in Spanish, will see if I can find it, all about 16 hospital in andalucia introducing more natural birth. Where in Spain are you?

macaco Mon 21-Jul-08 17:58:04 les-andaluces

sanddollar Thu 24-Jul-08 12:08:54

hi figfingers - here is the link to the Acuario clinic in Valencia that is a more progressive private hospital than the state hospitals.

And a good article on birth in Spain.

My first is due next month so can't comment on how things actually are, apart from to say that everything I've heard and read backs up what others have said.

If your Spanish isn't good then take a translator to every appointment. I had to go by myself to my first two - materno (midwife) and the first scan, and missed the bit where they told me to go back to the materno for my regular checks.
This meant I never got the results of scans and blood tests from other health centres. Which was a bit worrying, but I figured they would call if there was anything wrong.

I was shocked and upset when I found out about the procedures here as I had my ideal plan in my head, but then I figured there are plenty of healthy mums and babies running around and if you don't want something to happen you have the right to say "no".

I have decided to talk everything through with DH so he can advocate for me with the hospital.

The other thing to know is that if you are resident in Spain you get a lump sum of 1500 euros (or is it 2500) for popping out your little one here.

Cies Thu 24-Jul-08 12:13:28

It's 2500 euros. But here it says that the mother must have lived in Spain continuously for the last two years.

Cies Thu 24-Jul-08 12:15:38

I'm reading all of this with interest because I'm ttc at the moment. (I'm in Galicia)

I know a friend here who asked to use the TENS machine in early labour (her parents had bought her one) and all the medical staff agreed and said it would be interesting as she was the first person who'd ever expressed an interest in such a thing!

macaco Thu 24-Jul-08 16:00:32

I used a tens for the early stages and no one had ever seen one before. I've heard that soc sec hosptials in Galicia have birth pools? r-parto-natural-antes

I found that there are a lot of matronas (midwives) who have trained in the UK and so are much more open to the idea of natural birth. If you can avoid a drip (suero) then you avoid oxytocin being administered without permission and have more room to move around. Also you are supported by *the law* that you CANNOT be made to do anything you don't want to do.

If you don't speak good Spanish you should have someone who does attend all prenatal appointments with you and also be at the birth. You can usually only have 1 person present during labour.

MrsMcJnr Sun 27-Jul-08 00:01:58

Figfingers - reading with interest, I've been living in Southern Spain for a few months now. I have a DS of 6 months but would like another in the new year so am wondering the same things as you smile

MrsMcJnr Sun 27-Jul-08 00:10:53

Now pretty scared sad I have a blood clotting disorder and the more natural the birth, the better it is for me (and baby). My DS's birth in Scotland was great! I got to the hospital just as he was crowning, had him leaning over the back of the bed and didn't have any drugs just used a TENS machine. Does anyone know if homebirths are possible here?

macaco Sun 27-Jul-08 07:51:42

Hi MrsMc! I remember you from previous threads (I might have been luchinka then). So you made it to Spain, congratulations on the move and your baby! HBs aren't very common but have a look at and the 2nd one has a forum you could post questions on(I'm assuming here you speak Spanish) it's all very pro natural birth etc, perhaps someone on there could give you more info.
I've heard there's a midwife in Sevilla who does natural birth. Also you could speak to someone from El parto es nuestro....very pro birth and they are national I think. they hold meetings/conferences etc about natural birth/breastfeeding etc.

mamiguay Sun 27-Jul-08 20:25:05

Hello! I am in Mallorca and gave birth here 15 months ago. On the whole my birth experience is what I expected but concurs with what a lot of posters on here have already said. I wouldn´t say I felt like it was a negative experience but I do feel like it could have been very very different and very much more positive iykwim.

The antenatal care is very thorough, if rather cold and bossy (!) I was constantly told off for putting on too much weight (I think 12Kgs in the end) until I eventually had an argument with the midwife where I all but told her to shut it!

As far as the birth went well I was not prepared for how little the staff had to do with us, they came in to check temp, do exams etc etc but there was absolutely ZERO help in managing the birth/pain, no coaching, no encouragement, no suggestions as to what to do. We were 100% on our own in that respect. I was attached to monitors and lying down the whole time. The pain was excruciating. I eventually got an epidural and the rest was bliss grin I did have an episiotomy which I had been so against beforehand but in the end couldn´t have cared less about. The doctor who did it seemed genuinely reluctant which I think reassured me she felt it was necessary.

Each hospital is so different, we really felt on balance that the staff did a good job and helped us have the best birth that they knew how to. It´s just a very different philosophy. If I give birth here again I will use a private midwife with the aim of her helping me to stay at home as long as possible.

I would say that it is all well and good making birth plans and knowing that you can say NO to drips/wearing a hospital gown etc etc but in the cold hard light of day you may not have the strength to pit yourself against the people you feel so dependant on. You have to feel confident that your birth partner will do all of this for you. My dh, bless him, was totally useless in this respect but in all fairness I knew he would be..

I hope this doesn´t come across as trying to scare you. I tried to give the same info to a friend here and she said I´d left her terrified. My aim is quite the opposite - knowledge is power! Know what their procedures are, know what your options are. Make sure you and more importantly your birth partner know plenty of pain relieving techniques that they can remind you of. This was our biggest mistake, we were totally unprepared (I didn´t even think to take a shower to help ease contractions and dh refused to go home and get my birthing ball even though we had hours to go and it would have been a round trip of 30mins! etc etc)

You´ll be fine, try not to get scared!

CeciC Sun 27-Jul-08 22:30:22

I am a spanish mum living in England, so may be I can give you my experience in England, and I have plenty of friends in Spain that had babies.
About the care in hospital, in England it depends on the number of midwives and nurses on duty. For my first, noone come and asked how I was doing after the baby was born, so much, that the following day, I said to my husband, to get a nurse or doctor, because I wanted to go home, as noone cared if I or my baby were ok. For my secont, I went home 6 hours after the birth.
The antenatal care, I think that more or less is the same, but in England you have a lot of support groups, if you need them, not so in Spain.
In England you are more in control of what you want for your birth, in Spain as everyone said, they decided, and you just take. With episotomies, I didn't have one for either of my births, and all my friends in Spain were very gelous, as they weren't asked. For my second I didn't even tear a little bit.
I know from some friends, that more natural birht methods are being introduce in hospitals, but is still very rear, that you can give birth in another position that the "traditional" one.
One thing that I like about spanish hospitals, is that they are clean, and they don't look like they were build the last century. One thing I don't like is that visiting hours are hardly non existent, and there is people in and out all the time.
I come from the Catalunya, so I can give my opinion about the hospitals in the south of Spain.

macaco Mon 28-Jul-08 10:09:56

my point exactly ceciC, there are fewer choices in Spain (about pain relief etc) but the things I've heard about the NHS wouldn't make me feel any safer having a baby in Britian than in Spain. In fact the infant mortality is higher in Britian.
I think the key is to speak good spanish or have someone with you who does and to do your homework. It can depend a lot on which hospital you use and what their protocols are. Here in Andalucia things have changed A LOT in the the last few years. Virgen de Rocio in Seville for instance is now talking the talk on natural birth, breast feeding etc. When I had Nico there they pushed bfing v hard and although due to circumstances (emergency baby in distress) I had a ventouse and therefore reasonably medicalised birth, I was assured beforehand that as long as the baby wasn't in distress I would have been left alone by doctors to dilate in peace and move around, use a birth ball etc.
The other side of this is that I would probably have been left ALONE as a previous poster said, without encouragement, coaching etc.
I think it's different here but no better or no worse than britain, just different. You need to find out about the protocols at your hospital, and then really go with the flow. I certainly never felt I wasn't being looked after. There are lots and lots of organisations who can help you or inform you about what is current practice where, such as those I've posted before,
nacerencasa, elpartoesnuestro etc.
I'm planning to have another one here in a couple of years.

macaco Mon 28-Jul-08 10:15:20

oh and also I agree with Ceci about the cleanliness, the actual hospital was fine on that count and the food was plentiful and very good. Also afterwards I was never left lying in blood or other things I've heard about the UK. My sheets were changed everyday, we were given maternity pads soaked in something soothing (don't know what) twice a day. I was checked frequently for blood pressure etc, helped to loo if I needed. My bits were checked as was my bleeding. The baby was washed, changed and checked over a couple of times a day. I didnt have to take anything in for the baby, everything was provided, clothes, nappies, wipes.
The only thing was sharing a room with people who had non stop visitors and no visiting hours, perhaps the only reason to go private next time!

mamiguay Mon 28-Jul-08 12:53:49

oh that was another thing - it is the norm in the (very new, very lovely) hospital that I went to that you have your own room. And of course dhs can stay over which is amazing. I think I would dread that aspect of a british birth. Agree re. everything being provided from baby gowns to nappies to maternity pads. Everything very clean etc etc.

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