Your Guide to Pregnancy and Birth in Mexico
Going through a pregnancy and a delivery is already tough on many new moms – but when you’re abroad, and without a support system, it can be even more overwhelming. From the medical to the legal aspects, there’s so much to consider. Expat women who find themselves relocating in the middle of their pregnancy may also face a whirlwind of emotions and confusion on accessing maternity services.
If you’re currently in Mexico, or end up finding yourself here while pregnant, this Pacific Prime Latin America article is a good starting point on the things you need to know about pregnancy and birth in the country.
Before Planning the Pregnancy
There are a couple of things you need to consider before you get pregnant, namely where you would like to give birth.
Access to Healthcare Services
For expat women giving birth in Mexico (as opposed to their home country), you’ll need to decide whether to use public or private healthcare services. If you wish to use the public healthcare system in Mexico, you must be a citizen or legal resident. Mexico’s social security system is called the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, or simply, IMSS. It includes paid maternity leave. If you don’t have access to social security, you’ll have to go to private hospitals
Public vs Private Hospitals
Choosing between a public or private hospital is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. The level of care will depend on the hospital you visit; those located in large cities are usually more well-equipped. Prepare for long wait times, as with most public healthcare systems.
Private hospitals in Mexico have highly qualified medical staff who have access to advanced equipment, tools, and medication. You can also expect a high standard of medical attention and a comfortable visit.
If you decide that a private option works better for you, and you want to avoid paying out of pocket, then you should get maternity insurance.
It might come as a surprise to you that you’ll need to secure maternity insurance well before you get pregnant due to “waiting periods”. You can learn about it in our maternity insurance infographic or guide. But essentially, that is the time you need to wait after securing insurance before you can make any claims relating to prenatal, delivery, and postnatal treatments. The specifics vary depending on the insurer, with some even having waiting periods of up to 2 years!
During the Pregnancy and Giving Birth
There are a lot of options out there during your pregnancy and when you give birth. Doing research beforehand can help you find the best option.
It’s important to find a gynecologist you’re comfortable with, so check out English-speaking ones in the country. Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll need to go in for routine checks and prenatal care. As each pregnancy is unique, your gynecologist will let you know the recommended number of visits. Generally speaking, healthy pregnancies have the following schedule:
As each pregnancy is unique, your gynecologist will let you know the recommended number of visits. Generally speaking, healthy pregnancies have the following schedule:
- Weeks 4 to 28: 1 prenatal visit a month
- Weeks 28 to 36: 1 prenatal visit every 2 weeks
- Weeks 36 to 40: 1 prenatal visit every week
In addition to prenatal visits, you might want to sign up for pregnancy and/or birthing classes. Some hospitals in Mexico may also offer these classes and your doctor will be able to guide you.
Types of birth
For the birth, you have a couple of different options:
- Hospital birth: Public hospitals often induce labor and opt for C-sections. In private hospitals, you’ll tend to be given more choice.
- Home births: Although legal in Mexico, the practice is not very widespread.
- Water births: Likewise, water births are possible but uncommon.
If you choose a hospital birth, the amount of time you’ll spend there will depend on if there are any complications. For a standard birth with no complications, you’ll be discharged within 24 hours.
Postnatal Care and Newborn Insurance
A big part of postnatal care is vaccinations for your baby. Although some parents aren’t in favor of them, vaccinations are mandatory in Mexico and all newborns will be issued with a vaccination card.
The most common vaccinations for children under 5 in Mexico are:
- Hepatitis B
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough
- Influenza or seasonal flu
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
- Varicella virus
- Hepatitis A
Some maternity insurance plans that are more comprehensive will also include newborn care without the need for newborn underwriting. That’s the process that health insurers take to get your baby insured.
After Giving Birth and Life as an Expat Mom
The final stage in the process after giving birth is to register with the relevant authorities and settle into your life as an expat mom.
When a baby is born, the hospital fills out a form in Spanish with information about the mother. You’ll have to provide your name as it appears on your birth certificate, rather than your marital name if you are married.
Using this form that the hospital fills out, you’ll have to head to the civil registry or registro civil to register the birth in person. It’s advisable to go as soon as you can after birth. You’ll need to bring two witnesses with you as well. It’s a free service so you’re not required to pay.
These are the full list of documents required:
- Form provided by the hospital
- Proof of identification and current visa of both parents
- Mother’s birth certificate
- If applicable, marriage certificate
- Proof of identification for the two witnesses
- Copies of all the above-mentioned documents
The officials at the registry office will check the documents and put the baby’s fingerprints on them. They will also issue you with an official birth certificate or acta de nacimiento. Remember to ask for multiple copies as you’ll need this for various stages of the baby’s life, such as school enrollment.
It is also advisable to notify the birth of your child at your country’s embassy, so that your child will be recognized as a citizen of the country. Each country will have different sets of procedures regarding the registration of a birth and application for a passport.
You should note that Mexico allows dual citizenship, making your child eligible for Mexican citizenship as well as your country of citizenship. That’s assuming your country also allows for it. When your child turns 18, Mexican law says that they have to choose between one of them.
Now that you’ve become a mom, you can join mom & baby groups. But you should be aware of cultural differences. For example, many Mexicans believe that a new mother should stay home during the postpartum period for at least 40 days. So, they’ll be surprised to see you out with your baby. It’s also common for strangers to be extra friendly with you and your baby.
In addition to this, you’ve got to accept that you now have an expat child! Unlike yourself or your partner, your child may end up spending his/her formative years outside your home country and might identify as a third-culture kid. You should familiarize yourself with this and help your child connect with their roots.
Looking for Maternity Insurance?
As we’ve established, securing a robust maternity insurance plan is important if you want to avoid out-of-pocket payments when accessing hospitals in the private sector. It’s one of the least understood insurance plans out there and enlisting the help of a reputable health insurance broker can help.
- Maternity insurance definition
- Local vs international maternity insurance
- Waiting periods
- Terms and coverage options
- And more!
We work with a range of insurers in the region to help you find the best deal. If you’d like to learn more about maternity and family insurance in Mexico, get in touch with our expert advisors for personalized advice. Contact us today!
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