Prenatal Care in Croatia
Prenatal care in Croatia is provided by public or private gynecologists.Typically, Croatian women have their first prenatal appointment between 8 and 12 weeks of pregnancy. Around the twelfth week of pregnancy the gynecologist will provide the woman with a Pregnancy Booklet (Trudnička knjižica) where all information pertaining to the pregnancy will be written in one place.
Typical Doctor’s Appointments
Call your chosen gynecologist in order to make an appointment, and be sure to tell the nurse you are pregnant. At your appointment, keep in mind that waiting times are often very long at public gynecologist’s offices, so budget your time accordingly.
At a typical appointment the nurse will ask you to provide a urine sample she will test for the presence of proteins, she will measure and record your weight and blood pressure and ask about the dates of your last menstrual period. After this you wait to see the doctor.
A typical doctor’s visit involves a vaginal exam to check your cervix (although many doctors are starting to phase out these checks, many continue to do them), measuring and palpitating your belly in the second half of pregnancy and discussing any questions you may have. Your first visit will also include a Pap smear if you have not done one in the past 12 months.
Standard Pregnancy Care in Croatia
Croatian perinatal standards define the number of prenatal appointments, ultrasounds and other testing a typical healthy pregnant woman will have. It foresees two appointments during the first trimester, three during the second trimester, and four during the third trimester, so appointments are held about every four weeks.
Three ultrasounds for healthy women are scheduled; one between 10 and 14 weeks of pregnancy, the second between 18-22 weeks, and the third between 32-26 weeks. Some of these ultrasounds will be conducted at your doctor’s office, and for some your doctor may refer you to the local hospital (often because the hospital has a better ultrasound machine).
If your pregnancy is considered high risk for any reason, the dynamic of these appointments will be changed to meet your individual needs.
The care above is free of charge for all persons holding insurance from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO). Some doctors may try to charge you for them (most often in cash) despite this, so be prepared to remind them you have HZZO insurance which pays for all prenatal care. If you do not have HZZO insurance, make sure to get a receipt with your name on it for any payments you make.
Around Your Due Date
As you reach around 36 weeks of pregnancy, your chosen gynecologist will refer you to the hospital you have chosen to give birth at for further care. This will often entail one appointment around 37 weeks, and then weekly appointments until 40 weeks at which point your appointments will be every two days. A typical appointment at the hospital involves a vaginal exam to check the cervix, amnioscopy (checking the amniotic fluid), CTG trace (recording the baby’s heart rate for 20-30 minutes), ultrasound and/or additional testing.
Some of the tests offered in Croatia may be different from those in your home country so make sure you do your research and are ready to decline any tests or procedures that you do not want.
At your first appointment you will be given paperwork to get your first set of bloodwork done. These include a standard blood test, blood typing as well as tests for sexually-transmitted infections.
Screening for gestation diabetes is done between 20-28 weeks pregnancy, as is a second round of standard blood tests. A final blood typing test is taken after 30 weeks of pregnancy, and once more for women who have a negative blood type.
If you are planning to give birth in a birthing pool make sure to ask about any additional urine and blood tests you may need towards the end of pregnancy.