Having a Baby Abroad – Tips for Expatriates

Moving abroad can be challenging for most of the young expat couples. This is especially the case when they are going to have a child in the new country. Your baby’s health, safety, and wellbeing are going to be your most important consideration when you move overseas. There are many different health care systems, different customs, challenges, culture and language issues that expats face if they are having a child abroad. Here are a few ideas to help expats who are planning to give birth abroad:

  • Know the cost

    When you are far away from home and decide to start a family, you should know your medical bills beforehand. Though medical costs may vary from country to country, it is likely for many expats to forget that pregnancy can be costly abroad.

    For example, Hong Kong’s public healthcare facilities usually give priority to local residents with HK ID Card. Expats who wish to have a baby in public hospitals should be aware that they have certain limits. Despite of the availability of hospital, the cost of delivery service and check-ups is $39,000 in some countries and maybe only a few thousand in others. Any extra hospitalization costs around $3,000 per day in some countries, such as China and the USA. Also, it can be even more expensive if choosing Hong Kong’s private luxury hospitals without insurance. If your condition requires a C-section delivery, then you will be charged at extra cost. Check out our blog article regarding: Maternity expenses can be very expensive for expats & tourists.

    It is strongly suggested that expat couples should obtain international health insurance that covers maternity before they become pregnant.

  • Consider citizenship

    As international employees, the first question that most expat couples will think about when having a child would be:” What country do we want to have our baby in?” In fact, it is important for expat couples to decide where they feel comfortable giving birth. In most cases a child born abroad to a U.S. or Canadian citizen parent or parents can obtain U.S. citizenship at birth for their child if certain statutory requirements are met.

  • Locate childcare in advance

    If possible, try to local quality child care once you know you are pregnant if you are an expatriate already or before you move abroad. Your expat employer may be able to provide some support or talk to other expat couples. We offer some great expat childcare tips on our blog posting on the subject.

  • Learn about the local maternity facilities

    It is critical that you learn as much about the new country’s medical system with particular emphasis on the maternity care that you will have access to. Your global medical plan provider should provide a list of doctors and hospitals that it recommends to expatriates. Make sure you check the hospital that you will have your baby delivered in as well. Is it clean, competent and well regarded? Your international health insurance provider may be able to provide you with a recommended doctor and hospital that is in their network for direct billing.

  • Check the maternity waiting period of your expat health plan

    Most individual expat health plans have a 12 month waiting period before maternity expenses will be covered. Some plans simply do not cover maternity at all. You do not want to find out that you are not covered at delivery time, especially if medical expenses are large. Most group expat health plans will cover maternity without a waiting period. Maternity and newborn care can be extremely expensive, so make sure you check the fine print. Expat Financial offers several plans which can include maternity coverage.

  • Talk to other expats about the challenges

    Having a baby abroad is definitely more challenging, especially in a different culture or in a developing country. It is important to talk to other expatriates and check out various expat blogs and newsletters. We recommend that you also network with other expats in your new country and also your fellow expat employees who may have some experience in giving birth there.

  • Make a birthing plan

    Many expatriates will plan ahead and make a birthing plan. Try to set up a birthing plan so you can fewer surprises come birth day. This can help reduce stress as it always makes sense to plan for the unexpected.

  • Be aware of different maternity practices

    You should know that the birth, cultural norms and maternity customs in your new host country may be very different from your country of citizenship. Do some research in advance and make the necessary plans.

  • Take care of your health

    Yes, it may seem obvious, but it critical that you maintain your health and get regular checkups from a reputable doctor in your new country. From taking your prenatal vitamins to eating enough of the right foods, your health and the health of your baby are what’s most important. If you are going to expatriate to a region where there is Zika virus or other infectious diseases, it is even more important that you lower your risk of contracting a disease that will harm you and your unborn child.

  • Obtain an expat medical plan that covers maternity

    If you are planning to have a baby, you should make sure that you obtain an expat medical plan that covers maternity expenses and newborns without any medical evidence. This is because the maternity medical expenses, especially if there are complications, can be extremely large. In fact, in some countries, a premature birth and child care in a hospital can easily run into many hundreds of thousands. We are often approached by expatriates who are pregnant and have no expat health insurance in place and are faced with a standard 12 month waiting period that all individual expat health insurers provide. This includes the Cigna Global Health Options plan that we offer online – which has a Gold and Platinum level plan with excellent maternity coverage. If they are lucky enough to be covered by a quality group health plan from their employer, it most likely covers maternity without the standard waiting period, but check with your HR Manager and read the fine print. Finally, talk to your doctor as he or she will provide the best advice and tips for maternity care and services while living abroad.