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Having a Baby in Brazil

You can stop pushing now

You can stop pushing now

The Brazilian health system provides excellent services for expectant mothers. Below is information about the birth and post-natal care, as well as registration of the birth, medical insurance coverage, and maternity leave.

Confirming Pregnancy

Pregnancy testing kits are sold at most pharmacies. A gynaecologist can confirm a pregnancy with a blood test which can be carried out at a laboratory. Results will usually be provided while the woman waits. The cost of this may be covered by private medical insurance plans.

Prenatal care

Once pregnancy is confirmed it is common for women to select a specific gynaecologist to care for her through the pregnancy. For those with private health insurance, check directly with the doctors which health insurance plans are accepted. It is not necessary for the woman to inform their health insurance company that she is pregnant, but it is advisable in order to find out which services and facilities she is entitled to.

An initial check-up will take place once pregnancy is confirmed, it is common for most women to have a monthly check-up until eight months of pregnancy and a weekly check-up thereafter until the birth. If the chosen gynaecologist does not perform deliveries, they may recommend a specialist obstetrician.

Many maternity hospitals run prenatal care courses during pregnancy and post-birth baby-care classes. The courses consist of classes by specialists in how to care for newborn babies including advice regarding vaccinations, nutrition, breast feeding and a baby’s oral hygiene.

Maternity Leave

Brazilian labour laws almost invariably fall on the employee’s side and a woman who has been in formally registered employment for a minimum of three months is entitled to a number of benefits. During pregnancy, such benefits include time off for hospital visits, sick leave if necessary and exemption from heavy-duty tasks. It is recommended to inform the employer as soon as possible in order to take advantage of these benefits.

In 2008, maternity leave was extended from 120 to 180 days, however, the supplementary 60 days are optional for private companies. Companies that choose to grant the additional 60 days may deduct the additional salary paid to the woman from their income tax. This fully-paid leave may begin at any time from the eighth month of pregnancy, with many women opting to rest during their ninth month to use the rest of the time to care for their newborn. This is entirely up to the woman and should be arranged directly with the Human Resources or Personnel department at the place of work.

Choosing a Hospital or Clinic

Generally, the delivery will take place in a hospital or clinic. Parents should choose a hospital or clinic in advance and check which costs are reimbursed by their private health insurance. Parents may request that the birth is performed by their chosen obstetrician which will affect where the birth may take place as the obstetrician may only be able to perform procedures at a limited number of hospitals.

Once the due date is established, maternity hospitals and clinics will usually be able to reserve a room and facilities for the mother with a leeway of two weeks either side. This way, if the mother goes into labour before the due date she will be guaranteed medical services in the chosen hospital.

In many cases it is the gynaecologist or obstetrician who organises the administrative requirements when reserving a place at a clinic or hospital.

Documents

Upon arrival at the hospital or clinic, the parents will need to supply proof of identity and their marriage certificate, if applicable, as well as details of their private health insurance. It is recommended to take all exam and scan results that were conducted during pregnancy.

The Birth

Caesareans (c-sections) are extremely common in Brazil, especially in private hospitals. They are frequently encouraged by doctors for practical and financial reasons or requested by expectant mothers. Women who do not want an optional caesarean should inform their obstetrician early on in the pregnancy.

Water births

Water births are not common in Brazil and, as such, it may be necessary to travel further distances to find facilities that offer them. It may also be difficult finding an obstetrician who practices this procedure. The expectant mother should check if such facilities are available at the chosen hospital and with their chosen obstetrician.

Home births

There are no State or Federal regulations regarding home births although the majority of obstetricians will not be in favour of such a decision.

Postnatal Care

Following the birth, the doctor asks the mother if she wishes for the baby to have hearing and sight tests as well as a teste de pezinho, which involves drawing blood from the sole of the baby’s foot in order to test for metabolic, genetic and infectious diseases.

All babies weighing over 2 Kg are given a vaccination against tuberculosis as soon after birth as possible.

In general, the mother remains in hospital for up to three days following the birth, this may be longer in the event of a caesarean section. During this time, the mother is given breast feeding lessons and nursing staff are available to answer any questions regarding the newborn or the mother’s health.

Vaccinations

When a child is born in Brazil, it is common practice for an obstetrician to oversee the birth. Children receive a health booklet at birth called a boletim de saúde or Livro Vermelho. In this book are the vaccinations and dates recommended by the World Health Organisation, with a space for the medical centre or practicioner to sign and stamp. There are no mandatory vaccinations in Brazil.

Every child has a right to basic vaccinations under Brazilian legislation. However, due to lengthy queues for treatment under the National Health System and the greater number of people with private health plans, many parents choose to see a paediatrician operating in the private sector.

The calendar of vaccinations is well-structured and catered for by the public system. Parents may choose to give their child other vaccinations including those against meningococcus and Hepatitis A. These two vaccinations are only available at private clinics with a doctor’s prescription.

The most important, and recommended, vaccinations are:

There are no particular ages recommended for baby and toddler check ups, but most parents make sure their children at this age are seen at least once every six months during the first two years. Depending on the paediatrician, these check ups can range from a basic body development analysis and conversation or advice on doubts and concerns over the growing process, through to dietary planning and even infant psychology.

Registering the Birth

The day following the birth, the hospital will provide the parent(s) with a birth declaration (Declaração de Nascidos Vivos – DNV) containing the date and time of the birth.

This document along with proof of identity must be taken to the Civil Registry Office (Cartório) closest to the parent’s place of residence within 15 days or within three and a half months if the registry office is more than 30 Km from the place of birth.

If the parents are married, the registration can be done by either of the parents as long as they take the identification of the other parent and the marriage certificate.

If the parents are unmarried, the mother should go to the Registry Office. If the father is not accompanying her for any reason, she will be asked to provide his personal details and he will receive an official request to appear before the Registry Office. If there is doubt over the parentage, more than one name may be stated.

Should the mother prefer not to declare the father’s name, she may do so. At any moment during the child’s life, the mother may decide to state the father’s name. After an investigation and if proven, the father’s name may be added to the birth certificate.

If a baby is born at home, or anywhere outside a hospital or clinic, the mother must get a DNV certificate from a health centre or the parents must take two witnesses along to the Registry Office, one of whom should be the person who delivered the child, if possible.

Following the registration procedure it is not possible to change the name or the spelling. First names that may be considered as detrimental to the child may be refused.

The birth registration process is free and the Registry Office will provide one copy of the birth certificate (Certidão de Nascimento) free of charge.
Registering the birth with an Embassy

If one of the parents is not a Brazilian national it is advisable to report the birth to their home country Embassy who will issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a Birth Certificate.

Some or all of the following are needed to register a newborn with an Embassy. Check with the Embassy for exact details:



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