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Giving birth in a Swiss hospital
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Giving birth in a Swiss hospital

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If you're reading this, hurray for your new baby - it's going to be amazing! Now, let's get down to the facts. This article will explain in simple terms all you need to know when you are expecting a baby in Switzerland from a health insurance and medical care point of view.

Future parents, don't miss out on this special deal - 50CHF off birthing classes in several Hirslanden hospitals - more details below.

The article was created together with Hirslanden, Switzerland's largest private hospital group. To find out about their top-notch medical services for childbirth, follow the link below. 

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50CHF off Birthing classes

Birth preparation courses 50CHF off

Learn all you need to know about your future birth and how to best prepare for it with these top notch courses from Hirslanden. All courses will be delivered by experienced midwives at major Hirslanden hospitals in Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich.

What you'll learn: important infos about your future birth, breathing techniques, how your partner can support you, various massage techniques and birthing positions, medical and non medical pain relievers. You will also get answers for all questions you might have on this topic - and we bet there are many!

Your benefits:

  • Courses are available in English, Italian, Spanish or French.

  • Flexible schedule: you can schedule your course during evenings or weekends 

  • The courses are individual (in Zurich and Lausanne) and group courses (in Geneva)

  • The courses will take place in the hospital maternity ward where you can enjoy a cozy and private atmosphere

Places are limited, so make sure you book yours early. This offer available only until 31 December 2021.

I want this deal

Living in Switzerland as an expat has its many ups and downs. But once you decide to have a baby and start a family here, life suddenly gets far more complex. If you're a first-time parent, you probably have so many questions about what it means to have a child, but most of all, what it means to have a child in Switzerland.

Let us start with the reassuring short version: Switzerland is probably one of the best countries your baby could be born in. And, because we get asked this a lot: no, your child will not become a Swiss citizen automatically if born here. But there are so many other amazing advantages to being pregnant and giving birth in Switzerland. Let's dive in.

First, relax...

The first thing you need to know after you've found out you're pregnant is that all your medical check-ups and birth costs, whether natural birth or C-section, are fully covered by your health insurance. Fully as in you don't have to pay anything - maternity costs are not part of your contribution (or franchise). So breathe in, relax - of course, only a certain number of check ups are covered, starting with week 12, but we'll get down to the fine print further in the article. For now, focus on this big news. Even after birth, a certain number of home visits or consultations with a midwife are usually included. We told you it would be amazing! 

Now, get ready, you'll have to get organised.

Next, find and register with an OB-GYN

Your OB-GYN will accompany you for the duration of your pregnancy and you'll see him or her regularly. Choose someone you feel comfortable with.  Ask friends or look for recommendations until you find the OB-GYN that’s right for you. If you don't think you've found the right one, don't be afraid to change. Take your time, this is important. 

Hirslanden Healthline is available 24/7

If you need an OB-GYN, a fast and uncomplicated solution is to call the free Hirslanden Healthline and get an accurate reccomendation for OB-GYNs in your area, who also have availability to receive new patients. 

Don't forget - all OB-GYN appointments starting with week 12 of pregnancy and ensuing tests and care will be paid for by your health insurance company. After your first appointment your progress will then by monitored at regular intervals by your OB-GYN. 

Decide where you want to give birth, how and with whom

In Switzerland you can choose to give birth in a private hospital or university clinic, in a Gerburtshaus (a midwife led maternity house) or at home. Using a private hospital is the usual route but the choice is entirely yours. Choosing where and with whom you will give birth are the two most important decisions you will have to make. Most hospitals and birth centres offer a monthly information evening to share their birthing philosophy and show their facilities - visit as many as you can and get as many infos as you can. 

You should also know, if this is your first pregnancy, that if you give birth naturally, your OB-GYN might not be present during labour but will only show up if there is a medical problem. During natural birth, you will mostly be supported and coached by a midwife. For some women, it is important to see a familiar face, hence having a doula has become quite popular lately. 

What exactly is a Doula and do you need one?

A Doula is a better version of your mother, to put it simply. Remember in the old days, women used to give birth surrounded by a circle of other, more experienced women. When you give birth in a hospital, this is not the case anymore and the midwife, even if she is the nicest person in the world, is a stranger. A Doula is someone who has experience with childbirth, so she understands the journey of pregnancy through to motherhood and all the feelings and worries which may come up along the way. She is not a medically trained professional, but acts as a trusted companion, focusing on the needs of the mother, giving emotional, physical and practical support. She'll be there for you during labour, she'll support you as you breastfeed (and take our word for it, you will need help here), as you give your newborn your first bath or change his diaper (it might seem simple, but it isn't). They will even cook for you if you are too exhausted to do it. 

For more infos on what Doulas are and what kind of services they provide, have look at deinedoula.ch

What to expect when giving birth by C-section (Caesarian)?

In Switzerland around 30% of babies are delivered via C-sections each year and even though it's a relatively common, low-risk procedure, your first choice, if you can, should be natural birth. 

If a C-section is needed for medical reasons (baby is distressed, or in breach or born prematurely, etc.) you can be confident that the surgery will be carried out by expert hands in any major Swiss hospital. 

When you give birth by C-section, your baby is usually handed to you after she is out of the womb and stays with you during recovery, which is usually short. Recovery is much faster when you get up and walk as soon as possible after surgery. Hospital staff will motivate you to be active. If you have trouble moving or changing your baby, nurses are usually available 24/7 in all hospitals.

What happens after you give birth?

After birth, you’ll spend some time in hospital to adjust to motherhood - around 3 to 4 days if you have given birth naturally and up to 6 days if you've had a C-section. All hospitalisation costs will be covered by your health insurance. 

A hospital physiotherapist will help with a post-natal exercise regime and a midwife will give you help and advice on breastfeeding and looking after your new baby.

How about after you leave the Hospital/Geburtshaus? 

Once you're at home with your baby, with little family support in sight (as is usually the case with expats), you might feel a bit lost. Don't let anxiety get you down, help is available, so make sure to use it. 

A midwife can visit you at home and provide support with breastfeeding and basic care. You will need this and it is usually covered by your health insurance. But make sure you arrange and register with a midwife well in advance. Your health insurer can provide a list of approved midwives in your area. Their schedule might be full, this is why it is important to arrange the visits in advance. 

For free online support on breastfeeding from other new mothers have a look at La Leche League

In addition to this, for any tiny crazy question you might have about your baby (and you will) there is a great local community service pretty much all over Switzerland offering support and advice to any parents with a child under 5 years old. Look for your local Mutter und Vaterberatung center in the German regions or the Centre de Puericulture in Romandie. The friendly volunteers who work for these services are happy to help you and have extensive experience on anything child related, from sleep problems to eating habits.

What it's like giving birth in a Hirslanden hospital

With 17 top-class hospitals throughout Switzerland, Hirslanden is the largest private hospital group in Switzerland and provides some of the most impressive private healthcare in the world. All the hospitals are located in peaceful, green surroundings, some with therapeutic views of lakes and mountains, others with stunning architecture. Quite simply, Hirslanden is the best hospital group in Switzerland and a true leader in the service it provides.

Each hospital takes a holistic approach to your needs, and the wellbeing of mother and child is their top priority. The English-speaking staff have open minds and the conveyer belt approach you may find elsewhere is actively discouraged. 

All 10 Hirslanden hospitals that have a maternity ward offer ultra-modern facilities and state-of-the-art technology to ensure that all your needs are catered to. You can relax knowing that you and your baby will get the most up-to-date, attentive care available. All Hirslanden hospitals offer a full range of cutting-edge medical procedures or alternative therapies ranging from homeopathy and acupuncture, to massage or aromatherapy. 

In the birthing suite you can choose who will be present – doctor or midwife – and if you have a Doula, they will stay with you for support throughout. If you need conventional pain relief during the birth, such as gas and air or an epidural, these will always be available as required. You stay in control of your birthing experience and the outstanding, experienced medical staff at Hirslanden will listen to your requirements, give expert advice and focus on the safe and successful delivery of your baby.

Even after the birth Hirslanden continues to provide a top-notch service. Nurses are available 24/7 to support your every single need. There’s even a gourmet menu and room service, which might remind you more of a hotel than a conventional hospital. Your family is welcome to come and visit you during flexible visiting hours and can stay overnight in your room if it helps you to relax and feel comfortable.  

All in all, from conception to birth, Hirslanden offers an exceptional maternity service that celebrates the wonder of birth and is entirely focused on you and your family (and your family to be!).

Find out more in the short video below with interviews from hospital staff and patients at Hirslanden's Klinik Im Park, Zurich:

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