UK Pregnancy Guide: Giving Birth In The United Kingdom

Giving birth in a foreign country may seem scary when you’re unfamiliar with how it works and what you’re meant to do. We have therefore outlined the care offered at the three stages of giving birth in the UK — prenatal, delivery and aftercare — and information about registering your baby in the UK, gaining British citizenship, and UK maternity and paternity leave and pay.

The National Health Service(NHS) is the standard bearer for women having a baby in the UK but home births are also possible, as are private clinics. This guide explains what to expect when giving birth in the UK, so you can be prepared during all stages of your pregnancy in the UK:

  • Am I entitled to free NHS maternity care in the UK?
  • Prenatal care in the UK
  • Giving birth in the UK: the delivery
  • Post-natal care in the UK
  • Registering your baby in the UK
  • Child benefits in the UK
  • Is your child a British citizenship?
  • UK maternity and paternity leave and pay
  • Childcare in the UK
  • Useful websites for pregnancy in the UK

Who is entitled to free NHS maternity care in the UK?

Most foreign nationals living and working in the United Kingdom have access to free UK healthcare through the publicly funded National Health Service (NHS). The system provides maternity care — including antenatal, birth and post-natal care — free of charge to women who fall within the following categories:

  • ‘Ordinarily resident’ in the UK – requires a person to live within the UK lawfully, voluntarily and with the purpose of settling. The NHS decides in a case-by-case basis whether the expectant parent meets the criteria.
  • EEA nationals insured by another European state
  • Those exempt from charges – including refugees, asylum seekers, legal residents for at least 12 months, workers employed by a UK organisation and self-employed persons.

If you don’t fall within these categories, you might be asked to pay for your care but you legally can’t be refused maternity care in the UK if you are unable to pay in advance. The NHS, however, may pursue the debt after if charges apply. NHS care, however, is typically free if you’re working and paying national insurance contributions in the UK, or if your husband is working in the UK.

Alternate options to NHS hospitals are available, including home births or giving birth in a private UK hospital, which can be an expensive option but you will typically have access to better facilities. You can explore private healthcare options from a number of different private UK health insurance companies, otherwise you will have to bear the costs yourself.

Private insurance for maternity treatment in the UK

If you want to go private or aren’t entitled to receive free NHS treatment in the UK, you will need private health insurance to cover the costs. There are a number of large expat-friendly health insurance companies which provide maternity coverage in the UK, including:

    • Aetna International
    • Allianz Care
    • BUPA Global
    • Cigna Global