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Following the birth of your baby, you can expect to stay in the hospital for anywhere from 24 hours to two or three days, depending on the centre you have chosen and whether or not there are minor complications.

Excellent prenatal care is standard throughout Andalucia at both private and public centres. Expect regular visits to both your "médico de familia" - or family doctor - and to the nearest gynaecologist. The exact schedule will depend on the clinic you are working with.

Giving birth in Spain is not quite like doing so in the US or Northern eurosspe. To begin with, there is far less emphasis on patient involvement in the process - at least at public centres. If you go this route, expect decisions to be made for you and expect to be told what to do and when to do it.

There are two main types of birthing centres in Andalucia. The first are private hospitals or clinics, which depend on either national or regional companies. The second are state hospitals, which are located either in large cities or at key locations in rural areas.

It is true that babies are born every day, around the world. It is not true, however, that they are born in the same way or under the same conditions. In fact, both material standards of living and cultural factors affect even the medical procedures involved in birthing.

Five years ago, I was a magazine journalist and editor working for a trendy publishing company in west London, with a zippy new car, a witty, intelligent journalist boyfriend and a nice house in Highbury. Dinners in trendy Islington restaurants, drinks in hip Soho hangouts, designer clothes, exotic holidays.

Like most new mothers, I am writing this in a few precious snatched moments of liberty. In my case, they are afforded by Baby Einstein DVDs, themed confections of classical music, glove puppets and plastic toys. My baby is entranced by them, gurgling and chuckling with delight at the little red cars and yellow birds.

Independent midwives for home births are scarce in Spain, but they do exist, and their numbers are increasing all the time, as home births become more popular. Some of the main reasons for the boom in popularity of home births in Spain are.