Mum and baby

A guide to pregnancy and giving birth in Thailand

PUBLISHED: 24 August 2021 | LAST UPDATED: 20 October 2021

In this guide we take a look at birth and prenatal care in public, premium and private hospitals in Thailand, as well as some of the local traditions and beliefs when it comes to pregnancy. We also give you a summary of what you can expect to pay if you don’t have health insurance

Many of the locals use what’s called Batprakansangkom (บัตรประกันสังคม), which is the Thai government-funded healthcare insurance, financed by the Ministry of Public Health1. It’s also one of the many benefits of working in Thailand as an expat.

If you’re employed in Thailand, you’ll pay into the national insurance scheme through a monthly salary deduction2, which gives you access to this free service. As an expat you’ll be assigned to a particular hospital, but if you need specific treatment at a different hospital, these costs will not be covered.

If you’re an unemployed resident, you’ll be able to use public hospital facilities, however you‘ll have to pay for your treatment. 

Here are some options for you to consider:

Public, premium or private?

What are the pros and cons, and what can you expect from all three?

Public hospitals:
This is the cheapest option if you’re having a baby in Thailand. A routine birth will cost approximately 27,000 baht, while a C-section will cost around 55,000 baht2

Public hospitals have a good standard of care, although the queues can be very long, and you could expect to wait from a few hours, up to a full day before being seen for your appointments. You won’t be able to choose your doctor, but you should be in good hands, whoever looks after you. 

During your stay you’ll be in a maternity ward with up to five other mums3, which could be an opportunity to draw on support from other new parents. 

Premium clinics: 
These are available within public hospitals and offer a higher level of care and comfort. You have the luxury of choosing which doctor you see, and the wait time is significantly reduced. While they might be more expensive than standard public hospital care, you won’t have to wait as long when you need reassurance and care. 

If you’re interested in truly personal care and one-on-one support, a private facility may be a better option for you. 

Private hospitals: 
Make sure to check with your insurer to find out which hospitals are included in your cover. All private hospitals in Thailand offer childbirth delivery packages, with the average C-section costing at least 44,000 baht3 depending on which hospital you choose. Most of these packages include a three-night stay for caesarean sections and a two-night stay for routine deliveries. It’s important to know that while these packages cover the full cost of a routine delivery, they don’t cover the cost if there are any complications during the birth.

Most expats in Thailand opt for private hospitals4. The overall healthcare system in Thailand is ranked one of the best in the world2. While the cost might be higher than other parts of Asia, it is much lower compared to the Western world. 

For a higher price, you get more personal care, and the privacy of your own room to celebrate this special time. In some, there are also facilities for pre- and post-natal classes on breastfeeding. 

Prenatal care

How many scans or appointments can you expect, and what do they include?

In Thailand, pregnant women are offered prenatal care, free of charge at clinics in the public hospitals or contracted primary care centres they’re registered with4. It’s worth looking into these options as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. 

You can expect to have regular routine check-ups, tests and ultrasounds – some doctors choose to do an ultrasound at each appointment. This gives you a good idea of your baby’s development. In a public hospital you’ll have monthly check-ups for the first seven months. If you opt for private care, make sure you know what tests are included in your insurance plan, so you’re prepared if there are any extra costs. Then you and your doctor can decide how often to have your appointments going forward.

Perhaps one of the savviest things you can do as an expectant mother in Thailand is enlist the help of a doula. A doula is like a midwife but with an often more personalised role. They’ll be there to support you before, during and after birth6

It’s important to research whether your chosen doula can help with translating if that’s something you need. Otherwise, it’s something you should chat to your hospital about before delivery day.

Giving birth in Thailand 

How long can you expect to be in hospital for and what will your stay be like?

The art of calm on the big day is knowing what your options are and being as informed as possible beforehand. You should be focused on your little one, not wondering what to expect from the doctors during delivery. 

C-sections are encouraged in Thailand, for your comfort, for your baby’s health, and for the convenience of the doctor. If everyone is happy, your baby won’t be under additional strain during birth. Nurses, doctors, and a family member may be in the theatre while the rest of the family waits outside until your baby finally enters the world.

C-sections aren’t for everyone. If you would prefer to have a natural birth, find out if the doctor you’ve been seeing is going to be the one delivering your baby. That way, you can agree your birthing plan and make sure you’re comfortable before the big day7. During delivery, your partner or a family member may be allowed into the room to support you during the birth. This is more likely in a private hospital, where public hospitals tend to be a lot stricter during the delivery.

If you want to know more about C-sections, why they’re so popular, what you can expect and how to decide whether it’s right for you, then visit our handy guide here.

Once your baby arrives, you’ll be able to visit your doctor for general health check-ups and vaccinations. Mothers – both locals and expats who’ve worked in the country for at least seven months before becoming pregnant – are given 90 days of paid maternity leave. To receive this, you’ll need to sign up in the Social Security Office8.

Cultural quirks in Thailand 

As a new parent in a new country, what are the cultural quirks that might be helpful to know about?

Much like China, new mums often stay home and avoid any strenuous activity while recovering after childbirth. Some Thai nationals choose to live with their parents for a while before and after the birth. It can be a welcome addition of support.

Social hierarchy is heavily respected in Thailand. Which means a doctor might not like to be questioned when they’re making suggestions or giving advice. It’s best to ask your questions at the beginning so you know what to expect further down the line. 

Once the baby is born and both mother and child are recuperating, security is very tight around the wards. Babies are kept in the nursery and only parents can visit them. Some hospitals even have fingerprint access on doors to make sure this is respected. 

Finally, numbers are a big part of Thai culture and tradition. Some Thai women try and book C-sections on specific days that they’d consider lucky. They pay special attention to the weight of the baby, time of birth, and the day. So don’t be surprised if you’re asked about these numbers by those around you.

Finding the support you need

If you’re new to parenting and to the neighbourhood, it can be overwhelming if you don’t have your support network around. There are a number of mums’ groups that you can join where you’ll be able to connect with other new parents – as both locals and expats. You’ll be able to find out more about these groups and how to join them by asking your doctor or midwife, and by doing some online research. 

Our World of Wellbeing hub contains lots of useful tips and information about being a parent abroad. Whether you’re about to have your first baby, or you’re moving your whole family to a new country, there’s plenty of advice about how to help things go smoothly. 

And if you’re ever unsure of anything, no matter where you are, we’ll always do our best to put you at ease. As an AXA – Global Healthcare member, you have a team of midwives on hand through your Health Information Helpline who’ll be able to answer any questions you might have about your pregnancy. Just call +44 (0)1892 556 753 between 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, until 4pm on Saturday and until 12pm on Sunday (UK time).

If you have any questions about making a claim with us or what your policy covers, you can call us anytime, day or night on +44 (0)1892 503 856. 

Sources
1.https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/thailand-student-insurance/healthcare-in-thailand.php
2. https://www.expatfocus.com/thailand/health/maternity-care-in-thailand 
3. https://blog.lumahealth.com/universal-health-care-expats-in-thailand 
4. https://thewayfaringsoul.com/having-a-baby-in-thailand-foreigner/ 
5. https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/ 
6. https://www.treasurista.com/having-a-baby-in-bangkok-my-tips-for-fellow-foreign-moms/ 
7. https://www.expatden.com/thailand/giving-birth-in-thailand/#Scheduling_Your_Delivery 
8. https://www.expatfinder.com/thailand/expat-guides/article/having-a-baby-in-bangkok/1315