Registering a birth in Barcelona
Tamara Blackman, 38, talks us through how she found being pregnant and giving birth here in Barcelona.
Overall, I had a really good experience of the maternity health service in Barcelona.
I had both my children at the public hospital Sant Joan de Déu, the most recent in 2009. For the prenatal care I had regular check-ups, scans and tests at the hospital (my labour was classed as high risk due to a minor medical condition I have, so I couldn’t do these check-ups at my local doctor’s surgery with the midwife, which I think I would have preferred). I did feel like a cow at times: queuing, then entering the obstetrician’s room, asked to open my legs while they inserted something. I did have to stop them many times and say, “hold on, what are you doing? Can you explain please?”, then they explained the type of test or check. I guess not many people ask.
I was not told at any stage about any alternative birth methods [such as using a birthing pool], I guess you have to apply for them specially. No formal birth plan either... except deciding if I wanted an epidural or not. I was surprised that I could have only one person during the birth—my mum would have liked to have been there too—but I’ve heard this depends on the hospital.
However, when I was scheduled to have my baby (overdue by 11 days so my hospitalisation was programmed and room reserved), I was treated very well and was ecstatic with my single room with view of Barcelona, sofa bed for hubby, all mod cons for bathing baby, wardrobe, en suite bathroom, etc! I described it to family and friends in the UK as a three- or four-star hotel room with good room service, a far cry from the large shared maternity wards in UK. The birth was quite quick and my waters broke just after a touch and no need for inducement.
When my daughter was born she was put on my chest, then after a quick wash and few checks they gave her back to me and a nurse encouraged me to breastfeed and showed me how to get the baby to suck. I was taken back to my ‘hotel’ room with my baby and over the following few days, various nurses and doctors came in doing checks, showing me how to wash and look after my girl. Sant Joan de Déu are proud of their maternity care and believe it is paramount that all the checks and tests are done in the room with the mother. I couldn’t even walk out the door of my room with my baby in my arms down the corridor! I was confined to my room but happy.
My husband stayed each night on the sofa bed next to me then left me in the day to visit our toddler who was with grandma. You have to stay about 36 hours in Spain because they do all the vital checks in hospital and the heel test to scan for cystic fibrosis cannot be done before 48 hours of life. The big difference here is that you don’t get home visits after, so they want to do everything in hospital; then five days after leaving hospital you make your first visit to your local paediatrician (children’s GP, basically). The post care once at home I found good as well. I had to make regular visits to the paediatrician for check-ups, every week then every month then every two or three months, but I was quite a confident mother so did not want anything else.