Life doesn't stop just because you have decided to become an expatriate and that can often extend to creating new life. Expanding the expat family can be an incredibly exciting time and offer an extra insight into a culture.
That said, it is a good idea to research how the experience of giving birth in your adopted home may differ from the norm in your native country. Even if this is your second, third or fourth child, being prepared is the key.
The great thing about pregnancy is that it gives you nine months to prepare, which can be particularly useful if you are in a foreign country. First things first, find out whether most people use a primary care provider when they have a baby or a specialist.
This will help you to decide the route that you wish to take. Talking to other expat mothers about their experiences will help. Even negative accounts can be useful (if a little scary) as they can lead you away from certain ways that may not be right for you.
Get in touch with your expatriate insurance company and let them know that you are pregnant. They will be able to advise on what provision there is within your policy to cover the costs associated with giving birth abroad.
Find out whether the women in the country you are living in normally give birth in hospitals or at home. This may affect your decision. Be sure to know where the nearest facility is and go and have a look round.
This will help you to keep calm when the process gets underway as the environment won't seem as alien to you. It will also give you the opportunity to check that it meets the standards you would expect. Having a chat with the staff will help to assuage any fears you may have.
Being an expectant mother and having a young child are great ways to get to know other women in the community as it gives you a common bond. Ask fellow expat parents about the antenatal classes they attended.
They are a pretty universal concept, although how it is interpreted can vary widely between different countries. This is one area where you cannot beat a personal recommendation.
Many women decide to take dietary supplements during pregnancy to help boost levels of important nutrients for the baby. This can be slightly more difficult in a foreign country as they may not be as widely available.
You may need a prescription from the doctor in order to obtain them or other medicines, but once you have this you have a better chance of getting them. Alternatively stock up on a trip home near the beginning of your pregnancy or when you are trying for a baby.
It may be the case that since you moved to a new country, your diet has changed. Don't forget the importance of eating healthily while pregnant for your baby and be aware that you may need to go to extra lengths to get food to satisfy any cravings.
Cultural norms in terms of medical care all over the world are different. The bedside manner of staff, their levels of communication and standards of privacy may be a world apart from what you are used to. Bare this in mind and seek out an expat facility if you think it may be an issue.
A birth plan is generally a good idea as it sets out the expectations for both you and those looking after you. By going through it with staff prior to the birth you are less likely to be faced with a situation you would prefer to avoid.
Include the monitoring devices and pain medication you would like to be used as well as how you intend to manage your labour. Also make sure that if a caesarean is necessary or you need to be induced, these points are covered in your birthing plan.
In some parts of the world, the baby is taken away straight after it is born, so you should make it clear that you wish to see he or she immediately to prevent any misunderstanding.
If you decide to breast feed your baby then it is important to find out what the custom is with regard to this in your adopted country. Some places discourage it from being carried out in public. While this can be difficult to understand, make sure that you know what to expect otherwise you could end up with an uncomfortable situation.
As an expat giving birth abroad there is a chance that your child could be entitled to dual citizenship. This has a number of benefits in terms of future travel, taxation status and reduced costs of healthcare and education.
Not all countries allow dual citizenship so look into the policies for the country or countries where you and your partner were born as well as that of the nation where you are living. You may require various pieces of documentation when registering the child's birth.