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Giving Birth in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know

Giving Birth in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know

Why give birth in Mexico? For me, it was a no-brainer for various reasons that I described in a separate post. Most importantly, I think the best gift one can effortlessly give a child is to get your baby a second citizenship at birth.

I spent a few years living in Mexico City and a few more years in Playa del Carmen. During my time in Mexico City, all my friends and community were Mexican (not an expat crowd at all), which means I got to know how things actually worked.

I got to visit a few friends at various hospitals so I knew the quality of healthcare and I also worked on medical & legal research a few years back.

While there’s a big difference between private and public care, for foreigners without a valid residency there’s only the option of private care which is extremely affordable if you have an income from outside of Mexico.

Hence why so many Americans practice medical tourism – if you go to Tijuana or any other spot right next to the border, you’ll notice there are hospitals and pharmacies dedicated to those who just cross the border to get medical treatments done (plastic surgeries being the most popular actually). I did it with my psoriasis.

Birth tourism in Mexico is also slowly getting more attention. Especially since Mexican immigration is cracking down on 180 day visas, forcing people to get proper residency.

Joyful woman and child on a Mexican beach with seagulls flying around, a serene moment before the new journey of giving birth in Mexico.

Do You Need a Birthing Agency in Mexico?

Giving birth in Mexico got so popular that many birthing agencies popped up – there are quite a few. They’re for those who want to get some help when it comes to paperwork, arranging doctors and hospitals.

You don’t NEED the birthing agency. The process is pretty straightforward: you just call the hospital and set up a visit with the OBGYN you pick. There’s always someone who speaks English. You can also just get someone to go with you to register the baby – finding anyone who speaks English and can translate for you cannot be easier in popular towns like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, or Tijuana.

While the agency can make things easier and I’m sure there are plenty of good ones, I keep getting emails from people who used birthing agents and end up with surprise costs and have had to overpay for everything. So until I find someone I can recommend I’ll say: do everything on your own – I added all the steps on how to do things below.


My Experience Giving Birth in Mexico

Prenatal Care in Mexico

We made a decision to go to Mexico at 34 weeks which still seemed early after last time. If it wasn’t for covid and the potential issues caused by it, I’d probably have just booked an appointment for then, but I wanted to be sure that we’re all set before moving back to Mexico for a few months.

That said, I called the hospital and arranged an appointment around 28 weeks. I had a few doctors to pick from and based on several recommendations I decided on Dr. Eduardo Loya.

I was positively surprised at the first appointment when the doctor took an hour to get all my history, explained everything, took time to see if everything was ok for the ultrasound, and discuss options for the birth. The same appointments in the US take about 10 minutes.

I had another appointment at 36 weeks when we arrived back in Mexico and we scheduled the birth then, as at this point it was pretty much certain I would need another c-section (I had placenta previa and we waited till the last minute to see if something improved).

I really liked that my doctor was flexible and while we had a date, it was subject to a potential change. I had follow-up appointments every week (free of charge) and detailed ultrasounds each week. We decided that if I can make it to almost 38 weeks, it would make no sense to take the baby out before.

My doctor was always reachable on WhatsApp any time of the day in case I needed something. This applies to post-birth as well.

Comfortable hospital room in Mexico set up for a mother-to-be, with amenities ready for the special moment of giving birth.
My hospital room

Hospital Experience – Hospital Galenia in Cancun

I was scheduled for Friday at 8 AM and because we lived about an hour away from the hospital it was better for me to check in the night before. This was something I was offered at no extra charge, similar to my weekly appointments.

There’s no need for me to share my entire birth story – all I will say is that a second c-section is definitely not a walk in the park, but all complications have been taken care of.

One thing I do want to say is that they have protocols for everything including going to the bathroom the next day, so if you need or want something – keep insisting on it.

I discussed everything with my doctor beforehand, including the type of incision closure. My anesthesiologist was great and made me feel very comfortable during the entire process.

My husband was naturally allowed in the operating room, but after debating it for a while we decided that both he and our older son Dylan would come to the hospital after baby Holden was born and everyone is out of the recovery rooms.

I was allowed to have a phone with me during my c-section and in recovery since my husband couldn’t be there. They took nice photos for me in the operating room and with a fresh baby as well.

We did have to ask for special permission to bring Dylan to the hospital since kids were not allowed due to covid at the time.

I cannot speak about the language barrier since I’m fluent in Spanish, but I can say that not all nurses speak English for sure. However, there’s always someone available for a possible translation if needed.

My doctor was fluent in English, so was the anesthesiologist, and they both spoke English to my husband who doesn’t really speak Spanish apart from basics.

Medical team in scrubs performing a C section birth in a Mexican hospital
That’s me down there 😀

Postnatal Care in Mexico

Unlike in the US where you have your follow-up appointment at 6 weeks, in Mexico both you and the baby have a follow-up 7-8 days after birth. Then you have another appointment at 3 weeks.

It’s very helpful and you can be taken care of nicely. I was able to message my doctor and ask him any questions on WhatsApp.

I actually had some complications and needed extra medications, and even though my doctor wasn’t working that day, he arranged for someone else to give me the prescription so I could start taking it as soon as possible.

Newborn baby wrapped in a tortilla blanket, a cute representation of the joy of giving birth in Mexico.
Baby Holden

Cost of Giving Birth in Mexico

Everything came down to about $2,200. If it was a natural birth then it would be cheaper, but we also got some extra tests for the baby (we asked for it) and I needed more drugs (also asked for it) and my doctor was the most expensive at the hospital (which I knew), so it could have been less.

My hospital was also the most expensive in the area. You should be informed about all the costs beforehand. Doctors’ salaries vary per doctor, but you can ask them beforehand to be prepared.


How to Give Birth in Mexico: Step By Step

Step 1: Choose a Hospital for Birth in Mexico

There were a few hospitals I considered, but ultimately I decided that instead of going back to Mexico City, I’d rather spend a few weeks on the beach in Playa del Carmen as I used to live there before and give birth in Cancun at Hospital Galenia.

There’s a belief that Mexican hospitals push many women to have a cesarian birth even if natural birth is possible, and while I cannot speak for all public hospitals as all my local friends opted for private options as well, I can certainly tell you that it’s not the case with private hospitals.

In fact, I can tell you that it’s surely not true with Galenia in Cancun because I was able to see the birth registry and it was definitely more natural vaginal births. Considering that my doctor specialized in high-risk pregnancies in which c-sections are required more frequently, I’d say it looked pretty good.

In Mexico you can have a vaginal birth, water birth (parto en el agua) or cesarian depending on the preference and naturally, medical circumstances. I also know some people who even had a doula for a home birth (parto en casa) – in fact, it’s getting more and more popular.

Hospital Recommendations from First-Hand Experiences:

  • Cancun
    • Hospital Galenia (doctors Eduardo Loya or Alejandra Macías)
    • Amerimed Hospital
  • Mexico City
    • ABC Hospital (doctor Annie Kuttothara)
    • Hospital Angeles Interlomas
  • Playa del Carmen:
    • Salud Primal (birthing center)
    • Ixchel Hospital (doctor Ivan Kowasky)
  • Puerto Vallarta:
    • La Joya Hospital

Pick a hospital and doctor, call for an appointment. Arrive, have an appointment, and set up your hospital birth registration along with a tour. You should receive a brochure with costs and be informed about any additional costs during the process.

Step 2: Documents needed to check in at the hospital:

  • Medical approval from your local doctor (kind of obvious)
  • Proof of payment or deposit (because it’s a private hospital)
  • Proof of address – it can be a bill under someone else’s name if you’re not a permanent resident or renting
  • Your passport copy or FM2/FM3 (if you’re a resident)

Step 3: Documents from the Hospital & Payments – Pay Attention!

Unlike in the US (I dare to say US is the only country that registers babies at the hospital), in Mexico just like in Europe, babies aren’t registered for a birth certificate at the hospital. The hospital fills out a form in Spanish with information about the mother.

In my case, it’s been done before birth because we had time, but I assume if you’re in active labor they’ll do it after.

Then, right before the discharge, you receive a form provided by the hospital that you must “sign” by doing a fingerprint. They also give you a child’s hospital form called “nacido vivo” or “certificado de alumbramiento“ with baby’s footprints and handprints that they take after birth when they take him for a check-up.

I get a lot of questions about home births, so here’s some information: it’s pretty common and totally possible, but some arrangements are required to get the baby’s birth certificate – keep reading under registration.

Birth footprint identification "certificado de alumbramiento "of a newborn in Mexico

You also need to settle the payments before you leave which is pretty normal everywhere at a private hospital. In Mexico, however, it was an experience itself…

In Poland, with my firstborn, I was able to just send my husband to the office and pay for everything with a credit card, so we assumed (wrongly) that it would work the same way.

I decided to go instead of my husband as I spoke Spanish and thought it was going to be easier since we already pre-paid for some things in advance. The thing is, because of the protocol, you cannot “just go”.

First, they had to call a guy to take me with a wheelchair to the cashier. This is where the fun started because it turned out I could only pay the hospital fee, but then every doctor’s salary had to be paid to the doctors directly.

Because my OBGYN was the director of the hospital, I was able to pay his salary there, but then there was a question how do I pay for the neonatologist and anesthesiologist? We had to ask nurses to communicate with both doctors to come and tell me how they wanted to get paid. Keep in mind that it was Sunday morning.

The anesthesiologist was pretty easy because they called him in and he came very soon after and said that cash was fine, so my husband went to the ATM downstairs and took the cash out. The neonatologist, however, was working at a different hospital so we had to wait until he finished a birth at another hospital and came over.

Once he came over he said he could do a bank transfer, but Transferwise had some issues and required information that none of us had so that was a no-go. We had also reached the limit of daily withdrawal on our card, so we had to agree that we would bring the money when the baby came for a check-up.

Then we got another note from the cashier that our bill was all set and we could get officially discharged.


How to Register a Birth in Mexico

Step 4: How to Get a Mexican Birth Certificate for a Baby

To register the baby and obtain the birth certificate you need to go to the civil registry (registro civil). You don’t NEED to go immediately after (in Poland you have a 2-week period), but I read some horror stories from foreigners having issues with getting baby’s birth certificates so I wanted to go ASAP.

I was worried for no reason because obtaining a baby’s birth certificate is very easy. What you normally need is:

  • Form from the hospital (discharge paper + certificado de alumbramiento / nacido vivo)
  • IDs of both parents, so in our case passports
  • Birth certificates of both parents (more on this below)
  • Proof of address (again, doesn’t need to be under your name)
  • ID of two witnesses and witnesses in person – they cannot be the baby’s grandparents (no witnesses were required for us during the pandemic)
  • Copies of all the documents – you can do it at the registry

Now, in reality, the list of required documents is longer and also includes things like marriage certificates, divorce certificates and so on, but when we went and asked, we were told it’s not really needed.

Important: both parents and the baby have to be present to submit the documents and pick them up. You have 180 days to register the baby.

FOR HOME BIRTH IN MEXICO: If you had or want to have a home birth, you obviously won’t have the discharge papers from any hospital.

The certified midwife you hire must issue a certificate related to the birth and later the mother and the minor must go to request the certificate.

If you wish to free birth or you’re a doula yourself, you can do it but also must hire a certified midwife to come afterward to issue the documentation stating the date and time of birth, the sex of the newborn, place of birth, the name of the mother and the information of herself – the certified midwife. It must be issued within the first 24 hours after the birth occurred.

The witnesses are needed for the registration at the Registro Civil office, not the actual birth.

Now the bad news is that for all births that occur outside a medical unit, the mother accompanied by the newborn must go to the nearest health services to request the issuance of the Birth Certificate, no later than 48 hours after birth to register the baby.

One problem we encountered was that we needed official translations and apostilles on our birth certificates, even though my own birth certificate is an EU one and has all the translations.

However, the guy looked at it and told me that he can simply take all the information from our passports without using birth certificates, but he won’t be able to put all grandparents’ information on it (not that it matters for anything).

The only thing they weren’t able to do was to give the baby my last name. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, you normally have two last names – one paternal and one maternal (mother’s maiden last name). Since I had only my “new” last name in my passport, the baby had to be named Holden James Karsten Karsten.

Newborn signing Mexican passport with a fingerprint
Holden signing his birth certificate

Mexican Birth Certificates

We were told it would take a week to get it, but 2 days later we had an appointment to pick up the baby’s birth certificate and his CURP (it’s like Mexican social security number). We went into a private room where we had to look at it and see if everything was correct and then the baby had to “sign” the document. This means he had to give a fingerprint 😉

You will get two birth certificates – a “long one” and “short one”. The longer one is called “copia fiel del libro” and that’s the important one.

Get copies of birth certificates, because some consulates ask for the official ones. In some places in Mexico you can just do it at the “kiosko”, but in Quintana Roo I had to order them directly from the civil registry.

You do NOT need the apostille of Mexican birth certificates for American documents. They might tell you at the registry that you do, but it’s no longer required and the American Embassy takes it all as it is.

Apostille takes about 14 days and costs about 2000 MXN. It IS required for European documents, so if you plan on getting your baby a European passport, you will need it. You can only get it in Mexico, in the same state as the baby was born.

Vaccination Card for the Baby

Vaccinations are mandatory in Mexico, so the baby needs to have a vaccination card. If you’re just giving birth and leaving (not wanting a residency for yourself), then you don’t need a vaccination card, but if you do that’s something you need to get as it’s needed for family residency.

Vaccination cards are given at IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) which is like social security for medical things. However, since you won’t have medical insurance, as a non-resident you cannot be given anything there, even though your baby is Mexican.

Only Hospital General in the city you’re staying can issue a vaccination card for your baby and they can also vaccinate your baby free of charge, regardless of whether you have insurance or not.

If you wish, you can also continue with your private pediatrician and do vaccines there, but a private doctor cannot issue a vaccination card.

There’s an exemption to the vaccination card requirement for obtaining permanent residency based on the baby…If you have a Mexcian passport for your baby already then you don’t need to show the vaccination card at the INM.

Mexican vaccination schedule in a parent's hand, planning for a newborn's health after giving birth in Mexico.
Mexican Vaccination Booklet

Getting a Mexican Passport & Leaving the Country

Under normal circumstances, you can easily get a child a Mexican passport pretty much straight away. For us, it was a bit different because of covid restrictions so I can tell you about both options and important things to add.

In order to get a Mexican baby a Mexican passport (your baby is automatically Mexican as he/she is born in Mexico), you need some documents that you might not need in your country.

Officially, as in every other place in the world, if you’re a citizen of a country you must leave and enter the country using this country’s document. So for example, if you’re an American and Mexican you must leave Mexico using Mexican documents and enter the US using your American documents.

Some people are using loopholes if their kids have expired passports or they were born elsewhere, but in Mexico or the US (or other countries with birthright) if in any passport it says “born in that country” there’s no way around it as the citizenship is automatic.

That said, officially your baby must leave on a Mexican passport. I’m saying “officially” because I’ve written more on this below.

Obtaining a Mexican passport in Mexico for a baby is super easy and the passport is issued the same day. For Quintana Roo you can normally do it in Cancun. Documents you need:

  • Baby’s photo
  • Parent’s IDs (passports or residency card)
  • Copy of baby’s birth certificate
  • Carta de pediatra

What’s carta de pediatra? In Mexico a baby needs a document with a photo to obtain a passport. Basically, you need to ask your pediatrician to issue you a document with the baby’s stats and stamp over a photo along with a copy of your doctor’s medical diploma.

Any pediatrician can do that and will know what to do and what’s it for, so don’t worry. The only thing you need to know is to schedule your passport appointment before going to get it at the pediatrician because this document is only valid for 30 days.

Professional credentials of a Mexican surgeon, and babies Mexican photo ID for a baby
Carta de pediatra

Now, because of covid, there were absolutely no appointments available for months at the passport office. I even tried through people I knew who worked there and had no luck.

However, there were appointments at the Mexican Embassy in Salt Lake City, so I scheduled one but we still had to leave Mexico and didn’t know whether we would be able to without his passport.

I was getting different information from different sources every time I inquired. Official information on the website said that the baby won’t be able to leave Mexico without a Mexican passport. I then called the Embassy who told me that we should be able to leave as long as we have the baby’s birth certificate.

I also asked two lawyers and one told me that there’s a fine at the airport for that and another told me that it depends on the officer and I might need to pass some money to them.

Needless to say, we decided to just see what happened and in the end, nothing happened when we went to the airport with just his American passport (because naturally, the baby needs A passport to travel). I gave the birth certificate at the check-in counter and they handed me a form for Mexican citizens leaving for the baby explaining we had no passport yet because of covid.

Then I handed this form to the immigration with no questions asked. No issues, no fine, no bribe. Nada.

Curious toddler looking at his newborn sibling asleep in a car seat, family moments after giving birth in Mexico.
Bye for now!

Now, if for any reason you decide to get a baby’s Mexican passport outside of Mexico, you still need carta de pediatra, even though officially it says you don’t need it.

We were asked for the baby’s photo ID and that was naturally the only photo ID we had so it worked. We wouldn’t have been able to get it without it.

Another thing to note is that if you’re getting a Mexican passport at the consulate, you don’t bring a photo with you, they take it at the consulate which was a big issue with a baby. Long story short, it took 3 kind people, lots of help, a white poster on the floor in the middle of the busy consulate, and endless tries. And a ridiculously funny photo in Holden’s passport 😉

Mexican passport of a newborn baby, marking the beginning of a lifetime of adventures after being born in Mexico.

Other Citizenships & Passports

Many people kept asking us questions about if the baby was going to be American when it was born abroad. Yes, both of my kids are American at birth, and neither were born on US soil. As this is such a common question, I actually wrote a separate post on how to get an American passport for a baby born abroad.

The US has a jus soli and jus sanguini rule (all countries that have jus soli also have jus sanguini actually). There are certain requirements that you need to meet and some paperwork to collect, but it’s not difficult or costly. We’ve done it twice now.

For Mexico specifically, if you’re in Mexico City it’s easy because the consulate is right there and you can even request CRBA online.

For Quintana Roo state it was a bit different because while there is a US consulate in Cancun and they can issue you an American passport, they cannot issue you a CRBA. This can only be done in Merida, but this wasn’t a problem for us because we made a trip out of it.

Since you have to bring the baby with you to the consulate, for those wondering how you can do this if your baby needs to be airlifted to the US from NICU, there are exceptions. In fact, one family did it right before us without the baby for this exact reason – the baby had to stay at the hospital. Nobody is going to ask you to risk the baby’s life if it’s medically not advised to do so.

What about other passports? Mexico allows multiple citizenships, making your child eligible for Mexican citizenship as well as your country of citizenship. In our case, all our countries allow multiple so baby Holden will have 4 citizenships.

However, you need to check whether your country allows it and if so, under which circumstances (sometimes it’s different at birth and when acquired).


Getting Permanent Residency in Mexico Based on Having a Baby

If you want to stay in Mexico, keep coming back or even eventually become a Mexican citizen yourself, you might want to start thinking of getting your own permanent residency in Mexico (I described the process here). Thanks to your baby, the process is easy and you don’t need proof of earnings or anything.

You can do it anytime for the baby’s parents and siblings, but I recommend doing it at least before the siblings turn 18 because then they can skip the whole citizenship test when they become Mexican citizens.

Melvin

Wednesday 29th of May 2024

Hello Anna,

my partner and I had a home birth here in mexico but we are both from other countries. My question is with the apostilles. is it for the original birth certificate or the translated version or both?

By the way all of this information is great! thank you so much for sharing!

AnnaEverywhere

Thursday 30th of May 2024

Your birth certificates to get the baby birth certificate, or are we talking about baby's birth certificate to get their foreign passports?

Ibrahim

Thursday 25th of April 2024

Hi Anna,

Thank you for the expository breakdown of your experience. It has provided the clarity I needed.

I have got a query though. Is it possible to arrive in Mexico without a prearrangement with an hospital and/or OB/GYN?

Must I present a doctor's appointment or hospital registration as supporting document for visa application?

Thank you in anticipation for your kind response.

AnnaEverywhere

Monday 29th of April 2024

Of course, you just arrive as a tourist.

Kolton

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

Hello,

Quick question and I’m sorry if this has already been answered. Your son’s name in Mexico is “Holden James Karsten Karsten”, is it the same as in the US or did you just have his name Holden James Karsten? The reason I ask is because I heard some people are having issues if the names are not exactly the same in either Mexico or US.

AnnaEverywhere

Wednesday 24th of April 2024

You can tell the US consulate that you want your baby to have one last name, it's your choice :) There's no issue having different names in different countries. I have two last names in Mexico, but one last name in the US and Poland. It's never been a problem.

Shri

Thursday 15th of February 2024

Hello Anna,

I am wondering whether you have any information about NICU costs in Mexico City hospitals and just an estimation is fine.

Thanks.

JJ

Friday 19th of April 2024

Hello Anna and Shri,

I hope you are both and families well. First, many thanks to Anna as you have kept this chat going for 3 years and it is still active! Such a mine of useful information for people looking to give birth and settle in Mexico! Really thank you.

In regards to the NICU cost, I wanted to contribute here as I looked specifically at Hospital Angeles Interlomas and I was quoted (I called them today to check so price is accurate) $1,750 (30,000MXN) per day / per baby (rather important if you are expecting twins!).

Shri, I would definitely suggest that you check with the hospital (I'm sure it varies a lot between them); the hospital you choose will be an important decision financially also considering birth costs (quoted 200,000MXN assuming ceasarian which to be honest is getting common). My best wishes of health to mum and baby(ies).

AnnaEverywhere

Sunday 18th of February 2024

They did tell me during my hospital tour, but I assume that prices might have increased since then. It wasn't more than $500 a day for sure.

Lark

Friday 12th of January 2024

Hi Anne, Thank you so much for the detailed explaination across the board! Considering doing something very simlilar for my birth, would you be able to note the pricing for document filing also? I saw $2200 for total medical, but do u recall what the costs were for the following: birth ceritifcate/equivalent, medical pediatric note, passport, residency? I just want to better prepare for any unexpected costs to properly estimate the total to do this type of trip/experience. Thank you so much, and feel free to email also if simpler! Merci!, Lark

AnnaEverywhere

Monday 15th of January 2024

Absolutely! Also make sure that the price hasn't will be slightly higher (up to $800 I'd say) due to the obvious: inflation.

Birth certificate - approx. 55 MXN + extra copies. Apostile (if you need it) - approx. 300 MXN Pediatric note was about 800 MXN total because it was combined with a regular check-up visit, but you could technically go to a public doctor too and then it will be cheaper. Passport - about 1655 MXN for 3 years. Residency is a long story and depends on what documents you have - see my other article on residency in particular.

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