Know the options available to you when the time comes for the birth of your baby, and find out about postnatal care in Costa Rica…
Generally, delivery takes place in a maternity hospital. It can be a public or a private hospital. It is essential to bring the mother's medical history to the hospital, with all relevant information relating to the pregnancy.
The amount of time a mother stays in hospital after the birth varies, but in the case of a birth with no complications mother and baby may be discharged after 24 hours.
The Costa Rican medical system is split up into public and private institutions, and while public hospitals can be of a very high standard, better care is often found at private facilities.
- The public hospitals are free and funded by national taxes, presided over by the Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social. (site in Spanish)
- A large number of Costa Ricans are covered by a national health insurance scheme, which they pay for in a manner similar to a pension. Residents working for a Costa Rican company are usually given the option to join the insurance scheme. Costa Rican law also states that an unborn child is entitled to free medical care, up to and including post-natal care
- The alternative is private health insurance; this gives the mother the option of giving birth at one of the numerous private hospitals, which provide a very high standard of care. The government run Instituto Nacional de Seguros provides private healthcare options. See more details on private health insurance in Costa Rica (in Spanish)
Midwifery is not recognized as a profession in Costa Rica, so births are usually presided over by an obstetrician and nurses. Nurses are often trained as obstetricians. Certain public hospitals allow the husband to be present only for the final moments of the birth.
Staff in public hospitals often induce labor with medication as a standard procedure, and often opt for cesarean births. More freedom of choice is given to the mothers in private institutions.
- For more information about the various birth options as well as a large amount of information for pregnant mothers in Costa Rica: Click here
Water births (parto en el agua) are possible in Costa Rica, but are not particularly common. Individuals and organizations exist who support water births; it is advisable to ask for more information from the obstetrician.
Water births are available in the Hospital La Católica in San José.
- See more information on water births
A home birth (parto en casa) is possible in Costa Rica, though the practice is not widespread.
A check-up for both mother and child should take place eight days after the birth and then one month afterwards. Thereafter, it is recommended that children in their first year have monthly check-ups. These are provided free of charge at public medical institutions by the Social Security Fund (Caja Costarricense de Seguridad Social - CCSS).
Following the birth, the mother receives a health booklet for the newborn (Carnés de Salud del (a) niño), which is used to record the child's medical check-ups, growth and vaccinations.
Newborn babies are vaccinated against hepatitis B and tuberculosis. The Costa Rican government provides a vaccination calendar detailing age and dosage information for all mandatory vaccinations.
- See current childhood vaccination schedule in Costa Rica (in Spanish)