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:
Good luck with your pregnancy!