pregnant woman
Updated 2023-05-07 12:21

Pregnancy is a unique and transformative experience that women across the world go through. However, the cultural and societal attitudes towards pregnancy and childbirth can vary greatly depending on the country and region. From traditional practices to modern healthcare, Greek culture has a rich history of valuing the well-being of both mother and child during pregnancy. In this article, we'll explore the various aspects of pregnancy in Greece, from prenatal care and cultural traditions to the challenges and opportunities.

The Greek healthcare system

The Greek healthcare system is called the National health system, or the Εθνικού Συστήματος Υγείας, also known as the ESY. The quality and care in the Greek Health system are considered good. Higher standard healthcare hospitals and clinics are also available, but these are usually private and are found in the metropolitan and wealthier suburbs, especially in Athens. The system is overseen by the Ministry of Health and has a decentralized structure, with regional health authorities responsible for the provision of healthcare services at the local level.

The National Health System generally provides quality healthcare and is available to expats. However, as is the case with most public health systems, there can be delays. So if you want to and can afford to ensure prompt medical attention, going private is the best option. There is an abundance of private clinics and hospitals around the country with most being found in Athens.

Health insurance in Greece

In Greece, access to the National Health System is contingent upon enrollment in social insurance linked to one's employment, as it operates on an employer-based model. Those who are not covered by insurance may receive coverage through the National Health System.

The Social Insurance Institute, previously known as IKA, now called EFKA, manages the health system in Greece. As a result, an individual who is insured with IKA (now EFKA) will be provided with a medical booklet, known as an evivliario (which is now available online), that serves as a record of their doctor or hospital visits. A list of physicians and nurses who work in the National Health System can be accessed through the EKFA/IKA website.

Greece's National Health System (ESY) provides various medical treatments and care either for free or at a low cost. While this is a state-funded service, private health insurance is often favored by both Greeks and expats as it offers more extensive medical coverage. In certain cases, individuals with private insurance may receive priority access to medical treatment compared to those covered by the National Health Service, who may have to wait for a doctor.

Finding a gynecologist, obstetrician, or midwife in Greece

When seeking gynecology services in Greece, it's important to know that doctors may work in various settings, including their own practices, clinics, health centers, or hospitals. To find the right gynecologist, obstetrician, or midwife, you can search online or ask for recommendations from friends or acquaintances in the country.

Online resources such as and WhatClinic can help you locate medical professionals and book appointments directly on their sites. allows you to compare ratings and services provided by doctors, while WhatClinic provides a directory of obstetrics and gynecology clinics in Greece.

If you do not speak Greek just yet, check with your physician before to see if they speak English (which they usually do).

What birthing options are available in Greece?

In Greece, natural labor is not commonly advocated for. Instead, C-sections are preferred by both doctors and patients as they can be scheduled. However, both options are available. In addition, the proportion of C-sections in Greece is due to a lack of obstetricians and midwives to run maternity wards as a ripple effect of the economic crisis on Greece's health system. Thus a scheduled birth via C-section is deemed safer than a natural birth, where complications can arise.

Home births are rare in Greece and usually occur in remote areas where access to hospitals and doctors is limited. In such regions, on-call medical services with midwives and obstetricians are available. If you are interested in having a home birth in Greece, you would need to search for a midwife or obstetrician who offers such services.

It is recommended that the expectant mother discusses her birthing plan with her obstetrician in advance. When the time comes to give birth, it will typically take place at the hospital or clinic where the obstetrician is employed or assigned.

Understanding pregnancy in Greece culturally

In Greece, there is a traditional belief that women are expected to become mothers as it is seen as a part of their role in life. In addition, societal expectations also dictate that women should focus on homemaking and raising families, known as the concept of "nikokira" (νοικοκυρά). However, there has been a shift in recent years due to the economic crisis, which has forced women to work more and delay having children until later in life. Therefore, while it was previously thought that women should start a family by the age of 38, nowadays, it is more acceptable to start a family even in their mid-40s, although this can be challenging biologically, leading many women to turn to IVF for help.

Greece has modern fertility clinics and knowledgeable IVF fertility specialists, and waiting times for donor eggs and sperm are low. With the Czech Republic and Poland, Greece is one of the cheapest destinations for IVF. The cost of an initial IVF cycle treatment is 3,000-3,500 euros in Greece. If a donor egg is required, then the cost is usually more than 5,000 euros.

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