Whether you’re expecting your first baby or your fourth, giving birth is one of the most rewarding – and daunting – of life’s experiences.
The prospect of bringing a new life into the world can be difficult enough to get your head around when you’re in familiar surroundings, with the support of family, friends and doctors you’ve grown up with.
However, if you happen to be living abroad during your pregnancy/labour everything can feel that bit more intimidating.
But being stressed out is no good for mum or baby, so to help you feel as relaxed as possible about your baby’s birth, here are some top tips!
1) Look into hospitals as soon as you arrive in your host nation
Finding a hospital which offers the facilities you need and an atmosphere you feel relaxed in is of upmost importance. Whether you’re a resident of your host nation, and so entitled to the same healthcare as locals, or if you’re covered by private or corporate health insurance, you’ll need to decide whether to use private or public facilities. While the public facilities offered by nations like France and Spain are typically of a very high standard, you may wish to go down the private route if you’ve got a particular birth plan in mind (such as a water birth or caesarean). Private hospitals are also more likely to have a high proportion of English speaking staff, something which can make a big difference if you’re panicking! The sooner you pick the hospital you plan to give birth in, and the more of a relationship you can develop with the staff that will be supporting you, the more relaxing you’ll find the last few weeks/months of your pregnancy.
2) Find out what your health insurance covers
When moving abroad it’s essential to take out comprehensive medical insurance, and if you’re pregnant it’s even more important to be sure of exactly what is and isn’t covered. Are prenatal appointments, like breastfeeding workshops, covered? Are prenatal blood tests, ultrasounds and genetic tests? You’ll also need to make sure that your insurance will cover your baby from the moment of birth.
3) Join Prenatal Groups/Classes
Losing a close-knit support network can be one of the hardest things about moving overseas. So if you’re pregnant abroad it’s important to expand your social group and meet both locals and expats who are going through the same physical and emotional changes you are. Yoga might not be your thing, and you might shudder at the thought of pregnant aqua-aerobics, but prenatal classes like these are a fantastic way of meeting people. By interacting with others who either already have or are about to give birth in your host nation, you’ll also be able to benefit from their advice and experiences. And what’s more, once you’ve given birth you and your baby will have a readymade group of friends to enjoy all those first experiences with.
4) Don’t read overseas-labour ‘horror stories’
For some reason, when you’re pregnant everyone seems to have a pregnancy horror story they just have to tell you about (usually something involving stitches or forceps). Even when these stories come from loved ones and have happy endings they can be pretty frightening, so the worst thing you can do is go online and read the overseas birth stories of strangers. While you might think you’re preparing yourself for every scenario, what you may end up doing is scaring yourself witless and putting undue stress on an already fairly stressful event. Remember, every birth is different and as long as you’ve read medically approved literature about the stages of labour, have a doctor you can trust and a supportive birth partner/midwife you’ll be as prepared as you can be for anything that happens.
5) Look into visa/work permit rules and citizenship laws
If you and your partner are living overseas on your work visa, you’ll need to talk to your employer about maternity leave and any regulations which could impact your legal right to continue living overseas while caring for your baby. Different nation’s also have different laws regarding the citizenship of a child born to foreign parents, so look into your options (like applying for dual citizenship) before your tiny tot arrives!
Have you got any tips to share when it comes to having a baby overseas?
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