Five ½ Things Pregnant Expatriates Should Know!

If you plan to have a baby abroad, whether it’s a boy or a girl, its going to be an expat! Maternity is one of the few things that connect every human on this planet. No matter what religion you practice or where you live, someone gave birth to you. People care and admire expectant mothers, globally. However, having the baby varies by geographical location. This may be due to a country’s economy, culture and government. Although we were all born, we were not born in the same conditions. Here are a few things to know about having your baby, as an expat.

1. Know where you want to give birth. Have a birth plan.

Create a list of what is important to you when having your child. If you find yourself in an especially “developing” country, you might want to consider traveling to a nearby nation that might be more adept at servicing your needs. You can look up the maternal morbidity or the C-section rate by country, but that’s going to look a bit skewed, because while the outcomes are not great in say, rural Mexico, yet in that same country, it might be a different story if you reside in a large city.


1.5 Make a list of what you are looking for such as:


Which hospital, and what complications are they prepared to deal with?

Does the doctor and even nurses speak your language?

What are the visa rules (if applicable)? Some may give you at least 90 days in the country or allow you to extend without doing visa runs (you need time to get your baby’s documents). This research is pivotal, especially if you plan to stay in your host country.

What locations accept by insurance? Assuming you have prepared with a maternity plan ahead of time. More about insurance later in this article.

Are my supplements and medications available?

Pregnant Woman

2. Connect with other soon to be expat parents.

There is no better educator that good old-fashioned experience. The world is huge, and every corner has its differences and eccentricities. The best bet to have a guide to your birth is other people who have gone through this. It is a good idea to read blogs written by parents in your country of residence, or perhaps even better… start your own! Blogs are surprisingly on demand for these situations and many expats will find you through yours. You do not have to be a writer, you simply have to be honest and the people will come.

You can join support groups for pregnant women and online expatriate forums. Ask questions and do your research. Perhaps the most helpful thing you can do in this regard is attend prenatal classes at your local hospital or private provider, if available. You will not only meet women who have done it before, you will meet women on a similar birth timeline who can act as sister-in-arms with you in the journey you are about to undertake.


3. Prepare for cultural misunderstanding.


As an expatriate yourself, you probably have plenty of experience adapting to new cultural norms. Pregnancy, however, is so intrinsically human and universal, that every culture treats expecting mothers in a very specific fashion. For example, in Malaysia you may be denied coconuts at a restaurant, as a large part of the community believes it to induce early labor.

Although in a developed world such as the USA, you might get a weird look if you drink some coffee, generally you’ll be left alone. Abroad, however, you may flat out be denied certain items because you are pregnant, and without legal recourse to do anything about it. Generally, it is people trying to look out for you, whether it appears that way. Adjust to your surroundings and be sure that the majority of the planet loves and looks out for expecting moms, they just show it differently.


4. Have comprehensive international medical insurance.

The cost of pregnancy and maternity varies from country to country, city to city. It is important to have coverage, so you don’t find yourself in a financial situation. You must think ahead. Although pregnancy is not an illness, it is widely considered a pre-existing condition and most insurers will not accept your application if you are already pregnant. It’s about timing. As an expatriate, international coverage is important and more so if you plan to get pregnant. Most plans will have a waiting period before you can add maternity benefits and will require that you are not pregnant at the time of the application. While it is very difficult to plan the timing of pregnancy, being prepared and having an insurance plan in place well in advance will remove a potential stress factor associated with expenses.

It is important to find the right international private medical insurance for you and your family. WellAway Limited, for example, has coverage options for expatriates, furthermore, some plans can cover your pregnancy, with time. Contact WellAway today to review your options and get yourself covered, internationally.


5. Have confidence and advocate for yourself.


It’s inevitable, the second you are pregnant, everyone will have opinions about how you should go about navigating through your maternity. They will offer well-meaning, although often un-solicited, advice. There is no perfect way to handle pregnancy, everyone is different. It is good to go with the flow, keep your stress levels down and trust healthcare professionals. But at the end of the day, it is your experience and your child.


In china, for example, women are expected to move as little as possible when they are pregnant. They are treated as delicate items that should incur no effort. Yet, Dutch midwives advocate exercise and the more contemporary ones may recommend yoga and fitness programs. Do your own research and follow your own traditions. I’m not saying to run naked with your baby bump through the middle of Dubai if it’s part of your birth-plan, everything in moderation!

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