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Expat Exchange - Having a Baby in Latvia
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Having a Baby in Latvia

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: Discover the ins and outs of having a baby in Latvia through this detailed article. It delves into crucial topics such as the differences between public and private healthcare, approaches to pain management, and the process of finding a suitable doctor. Plus, enjoy personal stories from expats who have embraced parenthood in Latvia.

Living as an expat or digital nomad in Latvia offers a unique experience, especially when it comes to starting a family. Having a baby in a foreign country can be both exciting and challenging. Latvia, with its blend of modern healthcare facilities and traditional practices, provides a supportive environment for expats during pregnancy and childbirth. The country's healthcare system is accessible, and while there may be some language barriers, many doctors and medical professionals speak English, especially in larger cities. Expats can expect quality prenatal care, a choice between public and private healthcare facilities, and a range of options for pain management during delivery. Understanding the local healthcare system and knowing what to expect can help expats navigate the journey of parenthood in Latvia with greater ease.

Choosing a Doctor

When expecting a baby in Latvia, finding the right healthcare provider is crucial. Expats should start by seeking recommendations from fellow expats, local friends, or through expat forums and social media groups. It is possible to find English-speaking doctors and midwives, particularly in Riga and other larger cities, although they may be less common in rural areas. Private healthcare providers are more likely to have English-speaking staff. Expats should ensure that their chosen doctor or midwife is licensed and has a good reputation. It's also advisable to confirm that the healthcare provider is comfortable with the expat's preferences for their birth plan.

What to Expect for Prenatal Care

Prenatal care in Latvia is comprehensive and follows standard European protocols. Expectant mothers will have regular check-ups, ultrasound scans, and access to various prenatal tests. Prenatal classes are also available, and while they may not always be offered in English, private classes can be arranged. The frequency of visits to the healthcare provider will increase as the pregnancy progresses. Expats should be prepared to navigate the state-funded healthcare system, which may involve longer wait times, or opt for private care for more personalized attention and shorter waiting periods.

Do Expats Typically Have Private Health Insurance when Having a Baby in Latvia?

While Latvia has a public healthcare system, many expats choose to have private health insurance to cover maternity care. This is because private insurance can provide access to a wider network of English-speaking doctors, shorter wait times, and more comfortable facilities. Private insurance may also cover more of the costs associated with childbirth, including private rooms or additional prenatal services. It is important for expats to review their insurance policies and understand what is covered before the baby arrives.

Giving Birth at Public vs. Private Hospitals

The experience of giving birth in Latvia can vary significantly between public and private hospitals. Public hospitals are well-equipped and provide competent care, but they may be less comfortable and have fewer amenities than private hospitals. Private hospitals offer more personalized care, often with more English-speaking staff, and typically provide a more comfortable environment with private rooms. However, the cost of childbirth in a private hospital will be significantly higher than in a public hospital, which is something to consider when planning for the arrival of a new baby.

C-Sections in Latvia

Caesarean sections are available in Latvia and are performed when medically necessary. The rate of C-sections is not as high as in some other countries, with a preference for natural births when possible. However, if an expat has a preference for a C-section or if it becomes necessary due to health reasons, it can be arranged. Expats should discuss their birth plan and any preferences for delivery methods with their healthcare provider well in advance.

Pain Management During Delivery

In Latvia, various pain management options are available during delivery, including epidurals, which are commonly used. Other forms of pain relief, such as gas and air (nitrous oxide), are also available. The availability of these options may vary between hospitals, and expats should discuss pain management preferences with their healthcare provider during prenatal visits. It's important to note that some smaller hospitals or clinics may have limited pain management options, so this should be considered when choosing where to give birth.

Hospitals with Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) are available in Latvia's major cities, such as Riga, where the level of care is high. These facilities are equipped to handle premature births and other complications that may arise during delivery. Expats living outside of major cities should plan accordingly and may need to travel to a larger city for the birth if there are known risks that could require specialized neonatal care. It's advisable to tour these facilities in advance and understand the level of neonatal care available at the hospital where one plans to give birth.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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Flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Use Promocode: LIFE10 and get 10% off your international health insurance for life!
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