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A Bundle of Joy: Having a Baby in Switzerland
At a Glance:
- Talking to expats who’ve already experienced a pregnancy in Switzerland is the best way to get advice and information on what’s to come.
- The basic health insurance policy covers prenatal checkups, some prenatal classes, the delivery itself, and postnatal care.
- All the paperwork isn’t the most fun part, but make sure you get it done to avoid problems in the future.
Although having a baby in a foreign country may seem scary at first, one advantage of living in Switzerland is that you are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to pregnancy and birth. And good news — your basic health insurance policy will cover everything from prenatal checkups and classes to the birth itself.
To confirm that you are pregnant, you can buy a home pregnancy test from your local pharmacy, make an appointment with your GP, or visit your local family planning center.
Congratulations, You’re Pregnant!
Now what? Good news — all across Switzerland, prenatal classes are offered to inform parents-to-be about the Swiss approach to pregnancy and childbirth. Although the majority of these courses charge fees, they will give expats a chance to familiarize themselves with the system and explore all of their options for the upcoming months.
The following classes are all available in English:
- Arcade Sages-Femmes
- The New Stork Times
- La Tour
- Clinique des Grangettes
- Basel Children’s Touch
Before signing up for a class, check with your insurance provider whether or not they subsidize the classes.
Keeping an Eye on the Little One
The choice continues with prenatal checkups in Switzerland and this time you have three different options. The first is to use a midwife, who can either do home visits or you can visit her at her practice or birth house. The second option is to visit an obstetrician at their practice, or in a hospital in Switzerland. The third option is to go to your GP for your prenatal checkups — and it’s totally up to you.
Independent midwives who work in a practice or birth house instead of a hospital tend to offer a more personal experience with a wider range of options in terms of birth preparation classes and postnatal care.
Prenatal checkups (six by a midwife or seven by a doctor) and ultrasounds are all covered by your basic health insurance policy.
Remember Your Notes!
No matter if you choose a GP, a midwife, or a hospital for your prenatal checkups, they will all record your test results and your baby’s growth progress in your maternity notes. It is important that you take these notes with you to all of your appointments and the delivery. The health professional taking care of you during the birth will use these notes as an overview of your pregnancy.
It’s Time, The Baby Is Coming
When it comes to giving birth in Switzerland, you have three options:
- a hospital birth
- a homebirth
- a birth house
The health professional at each institution is the same as those for prenatal checks — midwives in birth houses and for home births, and most likely a doctor for a hospital birth. If you give birth in a hospital in Switzerland, you are given the opportunity to stay in hospital for up to five days, so long as you gave birth naturally with no complications. During this time, the nurses and midwife will offer you advice on breastfeeding and changing diapers — all information that you’ll greatly appreciate.
After returning home, a hospital midwife will visit you at your house for the next four to ten days, depending on when you were released from hospital. They will check everything is okay, provide support for both parents, and offer any advice you might need.
Having your baby in a birth house is also a possibility in Switzerland. These are similar to a hospital; however, they are specifically designed for pregnant women. If you chose to give birth at a birth house, it will be a midwife who guides you through labor and cares for you afterwards. Most women stay at the birth house for up to four days after having their baby.
If you choose to give birth in a hospital or a birth house, remember to bring your maternity notes, a copy of your health insurance policy, your passport, and information on your blood group with you.
If you’d prefer a homebirth, bear in mind that this is only possible if you’ve had a complication-free pregnancy and go into labor around your due date. A midwife — most likely the one who cared for you during your pregnancy — will guide you through the birth, and support the new parents for up to a week afterwards.
Maternity Leave — Taking Care of Yourself and Your Baby
Mothers-to-be in Switzerland are entitled to a total of 98 days of maternity leave. Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to this duration of maternity leave. Should you return to work before the end of the 98-day period, you lose your entitlement to maternity pay. It is also prohibited in Switzerland for women to return to work during the first eight weeks after they have given birth.
New mothers on maternity leave are entitled to 80% of their monthly wage. This compensation will be paid in the form of a daily allowance of no more than 196 CHF per day. Individual cantons and some employers may provide additional support.
For more information on compensation during maternity leave, see our article on Social Security in Switzerland.
While there is no law granting partners the right to paternity leave, there are several options for new parents to take time off with their newborn. Those employed in the private sector are entitled to two days off for the birth of their child — this is normally outlined in the employee’s contract under “family events”.
It is also becoming increasingly common for employers in both the public and private sector to grant new parents paternity leave. However, this is up to the company themselves.
And Now for the Paperwork…
Registering the Birth
Every baby born in Switzerland needs to be registered in the respective canton within three days of the birth. Normally, if the baby is born in a hospital or in a birth house, this is done automatically on the parents’ behalf.
If you have chosen to give birth at home, the mother, the father, or the midwife present at the birth must register the newborn at their local civil registry office within those three days. In order to do this, you need to bring the following documentation with you:
- proof of identification
- marriage certificate or family record book
- proof of address
- passports of both parents
- residence permits
Please note: If the father and mother are not married, the father can only register the newborn if he has officially recognized the child before the birth. If the midwife goes to register the birth, the mother and father must indicate in writing that she has their permission to do so.
The Birth Certificate
There is no rush to obtain a birth certificate for a newborn. However, it can be required to claim family allowance and register your child in school. You can order a birth certificate from the civil registry office in the baby’s place of birth. A fee of 30 CHF plus postage is required and you must provide proof of identification and an address for the birth certificate to be delivered to.
Is My Baby a Swiss Citizen?
A baby born in Switzerland is not automatically granted Swiss citizenship. If the parents are married and one of them is a Swiss citizen, then the baby is automatically granted citizenship. A baby is also automatically a Swiss citizen if it is born to an unmarried Swiss mother. Babies whose parents are foreign nationals living in Switzerland, however, are not automatically granted citizenship.
If you and your partner do not have Swiss citizenship, you will need to get a residency permit for your child. After you’ve registered the birth, you will normally receive a letter in the post inviting you to your local Gemeinde or Stadthaus to apply for your newborn’s residency permit. When you go to apply for the residency permit, take your child’s birth certificate and passport with you.
Health Insurance for Newborns
Newborns in Switzerland are automatically insured up until the age of three months for medical emergencies. The parents must take out health insurance for their new arrival within three months of its birth. If you fail to take out a health insurance policy, your local canton will most likely allocate you a health insurance company.
The child does not have to be insured with the same company as the parents and no health insurance company can refuse to sign up a newborn for a basic health insurance policy. If the child is born with a medical condition, however, insurance companies can refuse to accept the newborn for private supplementary policies.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.