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What to Expect When You are Expecting [in Prague]

February 29th, 2012 | Posted by Karolinad in Karolina | Logistics | Medical - (Comments Off)

Expecting a baby is considered to be a wonderful, life changing experience that many women wait all their lives for.  Getting pregnant in a foreign country is another experience and it can be pretty scary, especially when you are going through it for the first time.  Not only do you not know what to expect in terms of your body changing [I won’t even go into the hormonal changes], but what can you expect from a healthcare standard and insurance perspective when you are not in your home country?    

Because I have gone through it before in Prague, I can say that it’s definitely better than you’d expect and I have heard many expat women say they are grateful to have had a baby in Prague because of the overall pre-natal and post-birth care.  Whatever your residence status may be, everyone in the Czech Republic is required to have healthcare insurance – whether you are an EU citizen,  have insurance through your employer, husband, or whether you are covering it monthly on your own.   The good news is, very little money will come from your pocket.  Pre-natal check-ups and the birth are covered by your insurance. On top of that, the most of the necessary tests and screenings are also covered by your insurance.

The first thing you need to do when you determine that you are pregnant, is make an appointment with your gynecologist – they will invite you between week 6-8 for your first ultrasound to determine  the status of the pregnancy.   When all checks out, you are required to return around week 11, and if everything is good, you receive a “Těhotenský průkaz” – a pregnancy booklet that tracks the progress of your pregnancy, all of the test results, allergies, previous pregnancies / complications if any.  Congrats, you are now officially pregnant ;) 

Between week 11 and week 14, you have to give blood to determine your blood’s RH factor and other  important information and get scheduled for your I. Screening to determine the possibilities of birth effects including Down syndrome and other potential developmental problems (Detailed ultrasound/blood test).  This screening is most often done at Podolí or Motol hospitals, or private clinics that have quality ultrasound machines with specialists.  The I. screening is not covered by your insurance anymore, which was the case a couple of years back when I had my baby.  Good news is, it costs aprox. 1,000 Kc, so it’s not a major dent in your pocket. 

Around week 14, sometimes a couple of weeks earlier depending on the institution, you HAVE to register with a hospital where you will deliver.  The reason is that in recent years there was a baby boom and all the “porodnice” or birthing hospitals were busting at the seams and women would get turned away when they arrived, due to limited space.  Sounds scary, but don’t worry, the baby boom has slowed down, and it does not happen often that you have to go give birth in a different hospital than expected. If you are over 35, they will consider you to get the genetic test around week 15 to ensure your baby is healthy – this does involves a sample of your amniotic fluid, potentially other genetic tests.

The II. Screening is due around your 20th week, which also involves a detailed ultrasound to ensure all of the organs of the baby are developing correctly – this is covered by your insurance and is done at a specialist office (usually same as the first screening).  Around this time, you will also have to get the glucose screening / tolerance test to ensure you do not have gestational diabetes.  At week 30, it’s time for your final screening, and this could be done at your doctor’s office, depending on quality of the ultrasound machine.  Throughout the pregnancy you will several vaginal exams to determine the status of your cervix and one pap smear (usually at the beginning of the pregnancy) unless you have had one recently.         

About a month before your due date, your gynecologist releases you to the hospital of choice, where you will have to go for weekly check-ups before the delivery.  In most cases, women do not have a specific doctor that will be present at the birth, but will deliver with whomever is on shift that day/night.  However, if you feel more comfortable to select a doctor that will deliver your baby, it can be done, but you will pay extra.  The amount ranges from 10-20,000 Kc and you have to select the doctor before you register (if you are given a recommendation) or select from the doctors that are at your hospital of choice.

Hospitals in Prague:

Motol – Prague 5 (My choice)
Podoli – Prague 4
U apolinare – Prague 2
Porodnice Bulovka – Prague 8
Thomayerova Nemocnice – Prague 4

Here is a link to the ranking of the hospitals mentioned above – Motol wins ;)  Read about having a baby in Motol Hospital in Prague

Good luck with your pregnancy!

Now that the temperatures have climbed back up and it is bearable to be outside once more, what better way to get the blood flowing than to go cross country skiing.  Cross country skiing is a very popular winter activity in the Czech Republic with infinite trails around the country.  It would be impossible to list all the trails so I will just highlight the popular regions to get you started.

Krkonoše

Krkonoše Mountains
Located at the Czech-Polish border near Germany (about 1-2 hours north of Prague) and ideal for all winter sports.  Here you can pick a trail of any distance, ranging from  beginner to advanced.  If you are up for the challenge, and don’t mind the hills, Krkonoše is known for these type of trails.

Need a rest from all the hard work?  Wellness centers can be found all around these mountains.  For example, Hotel Aqua Park in Špindlerův Mlýn has great facilities including a pool, sauna, and water slides.  Another good center is Komplex Loko in Trutnov.

We can’t forget fun for the kids.  There are many great sledding slopes and even a small skiing slope with a lift.  SKI PEC is ideal for the whole family.

Jizerské Hory

Jizerské Hory
Located 60km west of Krkonoše and an hour north of Prague (by Liberec). Very ideal for cross country skiing with many great and maintained trails.  Want hills? No problem.  Want long, straight trails?  Check.  Want both?  Done.

Another great feature of these mountains is that you can even cross country ski at night. In Jablonec nad Nisou you can find a cross country arena Břízky where you can do a few laps.

You shouldn’t miss the stone observation tower Štepánka on top of the hill called Hvězda, in my favorite village of Příchovice.  Breathtaking views await you there.  If you want to check out what the current conditions are in Jizerské Hory before heading out there, you can do so online.  Most cameras can be found here.

Šumava

Mountains of Šumava
Another superb place for cross country skiing.  It is located further southwest, by the German-Austrian border.  The mountains here have a lower elevation but resorts are cheaper and less crowded.  You can even find moderate hills but nothing too extreme.

For inspiration, visit the cottage of Kateřina Neumannová, a retired, cross country skiing Olympian, where she showcases her gold medals.  You can even rent a room and stay a little longer.

If you are a complete newbie to cross country skiing and want to learn the right technique, which looks effortless on television, contact the experienced trainers at the Nordic Academy.

If cross country skiing is not your thing and downhill skiing is more your passion, no worries, many places around as well.  I have been neglecting skiing for the past few years so I am not an expert on the best places but this interactive map shows all the slopes in the Czech Republic as well as neighboring countries.

Also, here is another link that lists specific cross country trails around the country.  If and when Prague gets snow, you can find many people getting their cross country skis out and turning the many local parks to trails.  Sometimes you can go straight from your front door :)

Few cross country skiing etiquette tips:
1. Always let faster skiers pass.
2. Most trails are two-way, stay on the right.  Same as while driving.
3. Always say ‘thank you’ when someone lets you pass.
4. If you are passing, announce whether it is on the right or left.
5. If you have to stop, move to the side, off the trail.

We still have plenty of winter left, so get on those trails and slopes before it’s too late!

Transportation Exhibit

Now that being outside for longer periods of time is just not possible with kids, parents must look for other ways to entertain their little ones [and themselves].   Last weekend, my sister and I decided to take my 2 year old son to the recently opened and renovated National Technical Museum by Letná.  The museum is divided into sections by various themes:  Transportation (the most attractive to little ones and adults), Printing, Astronomy, Architecture and Photography.  In all of these sections you will find technical artifacts relating to the theme at hand.  I must say that I was truly impressed by most of it and if you are a collector or interested in antiques of technical/scientific background, it will surely blow your mind.

 

Now back to my 2 year old – he loves anything that has wheels:  trains, cars, bikes, motorcycles, planes and so on.  The biggest attraction for him was definitely the enormous steam locomotive, nicknamed Hrboun, and the dining wagon of a train that belonged Emperor Frantisek Josef I.  In this exhibit you can see transportation evolve from the end of the 19th century until today and although I am a novice on this topic, I am confident enough to say that they have some gems as far as cars, motorcycles and planes go.

Astronomy Exhibit

Another very interesting section of the museum is the Astronomy exhibit – From the History of Understanding Astronomy- which is considered as the most important collection of astronomical instruments in the Czech republic.  The unique collection of instruments are displayed in an infinite space  surrounded by stars.  The exhibit has an introductory part that presents the major milestones in the history of astronomy over the past 6,000 years.  In the second part of the exhibit, displays instruments that were used from the 15th to the 20th century, with a focus on the 16th adn 17th century when Prague, during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, was the hub of world’s leading astronomers of this age – Tycho Brahe and Johanes Kepler.

The printing exhibit has interactive pieces that are attractive to children, as well as adults, and the photography and architecture halls are definitely worth a visit as well.

The museum is located at Kostelní 42, Praha 7

Monday: closed
Tue-Fri: 9-17.30
Every first Thursday of the month:  9-20.00
Sat-Sun: 10-18.00

Adults will pay 170 Kč and children from 6-15 are 90 Kč.  Smaller children to 6 years of age are free of charge.

Introducing a fairly new website - Hello Czech Republic - launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here you can get information on living in or visiting the Czech Republic straight from the source.   The website is available in 6 different languages and provides you with accurate and up to date information on a number of different topics.

You may have heard of it, you may have not, but you will probably will and you will definitely know someone has one or is the process of getting one. A Zivnostensky List or ‘zivno’/’zivnost’ for short. So for ease of use I’ll assume complete ignorance. Please also note that the following advice is only based on my experience and is not necessarily 100% reliable.

In essence if you wish to live and work in Prague or the wider Czech Republic on a freelance basis then you will need one. Or more likely your employer will require you need one. If you work for a large company and have a permanent contract then you will probably not need one (time to check the fine print on your contract). Your employer in essence will be taking care of two aspects of your life in the Czech Republic on two issues. These being firstly social security/unemployment payments and secondly health insurance. As you will probably know there is no universal system of healthcare in the Czech Republic. Instead you have to get your own health insurance. Usually if you have a contract your employer takes care of these two, however, please check your individual contracts.

For many of us, I and my fiancée included who do not have full-time contracts with employers to access these benefits. So we need a zivnost. In a nutshell, it is a ‘trade license’ which means you have officially registered as working independently in the Czech Republic. You get a number/code which you then use on all invoices with clients and in communications with the Czech authorities. Please note it doesn’t give you ‘the right to live or work’ in the country, this is related to visas and is a whole other issue. If you are an EU citizen then you automatically have the right to live and work in the Czech Republic.

A zivnost is particularly useful if you are deriving your income from a number of sources e.g. TEFL teaching/translating etc. Firstly and foremostly it means you are responsible for the administration of your taxes. Basically, the system works in a similar manner to those of ‘self-employed’ person across the world. The individual maintains a record of their outgoings e.g. running an office, transport, sundries etc and then offsets them against a tax allowance. Anything over this threshold is then considered as taxable income. I am not an accountant and will not attempt to put figures on this. Sound advice from other ex pats is to get an accountant to manage your tax returns and take advantage of their professional advice. I have been told anecdotally though that the percentage of expenses which you can claim is fairly high and that the Czech tax regime is not massively punitive.

The other issue of having a zivnost means you get access to social security and health benefits. BUT it also means that you have to pay for it. This is carried out via monthly payments split between social security and health insurance payments. The amount is worked out on a sliding scale according to income.

Having ascertained what a Zivnost is. I’ll next week look at how to get one….

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