Maternity Book or Boletim de Saudé da Grávida
I came to Portugal when I was in my second trimester of pregnancy. I had had several checkups at the OB/GYN every month when I was in Indonesia, but then I need to continue my checkups here in Portugal. Having said so, different country, different rule, and standard. I was lucky that I met some Indonesian friends who had given birth in Portugal several years ago and they helped me a lot during my pregnancy. Therefore, I want to do the same through this blog post. Hopefully, it could help anyone (foreigner especially) to have safe and joyful pregnancy here.
If you are a foreigner entitled to a Residence Permit (having a Residencia remark on your VISA), you have the right to have the maternity facilities for free at Centro de Saude (public clinic, or in Indonesian: puskesmas) and public hospital. The thing about the administration in Portugal is that…it takes some time. Thus, I might advise you to take care things as soon as possible and to have legal documents for the administration.
My first check up was at a private clinic because I didn’t have an apartment contract at that moment. A legal housing contract is important because each person is allocated to any Centro de Saude located within the parish he/she lives. When we had the legal contract of housing (PS. make sure that your landlord will give you a receipt for monthly payment and his tax number is written on the receipt), we immediately went to our local parish office (Junta de Freguensia) to get an atestado, an official letter that states if we live in that parish. Afterward, we went to our parish’s Centro de Saude.
The requirements for having a Portuguese Health Number, numero de utente, are: (1) Residence permit or residence VISA (2) Atestado from Junta de Freguensia
On your first appointment at Centro de Saude, you will register for an appointment with a GP (General Practitioner) or here known as Medica de Familia (Family Doctor). You will be assigned to a GP and the GP is the one who will observe and keep a tremendous record of yours. I paid 4.2 EUR for my first appointment. The GP will check if you are pregnant then he/she gave you a green book called the Maternity Book or Boletim de Saudé da Grávida (pictured above) and a letter stating that you are obliged for isento or free facilities until your due date. Later on, you need to show this letter once to the receptionist so that they know you are pregnant.
I remember having my first pregnancy checkup in Portugal (as I said, at a private clinic) when I was 23 weeks pregnant. I had my monthly checkup and blood test results from Indonesia but the doctor said those weren’t enough. She got tense at that time because I didn’t have my 20-week ultrasound pictures — it was mandatory to have an ultrasound at 20 weeks in Portugal. Furthermore, she got, even more, a panic attack when I didn’t have any blood card stating my blood rhesus. I immediately got an ultrasound check then the doctor breathed calmly because everything was normal.
Unless you are having a special or serious case of pregnancy, you won’t be directed to an OB/GYN at the hospital. The GP will monitor your pregnancy throughout the time until you reach week 32. Then, GP will reserve you an appointment to meet an OB/GYN at the hospital related to that Centro de Saude.
Monthly pregnancy control with GP consists of: (1) A nurse checks mom's blood pressure, weight, urine check, and gives an additional vaccination (if needed) (2) The GP measures the length of the bump and checks baby's heartbeat. GP analyses mom's blood test and?or ultrasound result, if any.
My GP scheduled me for a blood test and ultrasound check per trimester. I was given a reference letter for each and had to have the test in other providers who collaborated with the Portuguese Health Ministry. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get the isento. My blood test during my second trimester consisted of blood type, rhesus, TORCH, HIV, and glucose level. While the one on my third trimester consisted similar componets except the glucose test.
The blood test recap was written on my maternity book
Checkup at the Hospital
My GP registered my control at the respective hospital within my parish. Then a few days afterward, I received notification through SMS about my next checkup. I came on my scheduled time, put my utente number to get a queuing number in a machine, then just waited till I got called. I didn’t have to explain my condition because they already had all of my pregnancy records. Before seeing the OB/GYN, a nurse checked my blood pressure and did a CTG (Cardiotocography) test on me. The OB/GYN did an ultrasound test to me to check where was my fetus’ head. She needed to ensure that both my fetus & I were ready for delivery. In addition, her assistant took a sample from my (sorry) vagina to check the bacteria on my V area. Then, I was referred to have a blood test (again!) at the hospital to see if I was eligible for an epidural. FYI, it is common here to have an epidural while doing a vaginal birth.
The story is continued to… of course, one moment I had been waiting for (nervously!): holding my baby girl for the first time.