What to expect when you're expecting... abroad

Published 2019-06-26 14:32

Having a child is, in itself, quite an upheaval! So, here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re, in addition, living this adventure while far from home.

Growing up abroad is an amazing opportunity for children: learning languages and just generally being more open-minded. For parents, however, it might not be as easy as it sounds. Healthcare and education might be different and sometimes, less efficient or more expensive that it would have been in one’s home country. Therefore, if you’re planning on having a child while you’re abroad, you might want to think everything through bearing the child’s upbring. 

Having a child away from loved ones

When we think of having a child abroad, we often think about the quality of the health care system and pregnancy monitoring as well as the issues related to the education of our future children. However, we tend to forget the challenge of raising a child without family or friends nearby. The first few months with a newborn, when you are barely getting any sleep, can be particularly difficult if there is no one you can really rely on around.

What do you do, then? Do not hesitate to ask for help! There exists, in many countries, support services for new parents. Depending on where you are, you could get subsidized help with the home or childcare. There are also support groups for young parents in several areas of the world. This is, for example, a very popular practice in North America!

If you do not have access to this kind of support, you can turn to the expatriate community from your home country. Expat solidarity is a thing, especially in solutions like this one! Between expats, solidarity is always in order, especially in situations like this one! It is always more reassuring to call on a babysitter recommended by a fellow expat than to require the services of a complete stranger. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have your stepmom offer to come and help you for a while, do not say no!

Health insurance, think about it!

Finding out about health services and health insurance options in your host country is of utmost importance. In some countries, such as the United States or Australia, medical expenses for pregnancy can be exorbitant. The medical coverage offered may vary according to the policy in the country, but also according to the visa of the expat mother.

Taking a private supplementary insurance can be a great idea to avoid getting into debt before the baby even shows up. Be careful though: most basic private insurances do not cover pregnancy. In most cases, an additional option will be required. In addition, some insurers impose a waiting period during which pregnancy and confinement fees will not be reimbursed.

World tour of education practices...

Freelance journalist and author Mei-Ling Hopgood knows a lot about parenting abroad. While she was an expatriate herself in Buenos Aires, this young American mother of Taiwanese origin was surprised by certain parenting practices in Argentina. This led her to write "How Eskimos Keep Babies Warm" on the different practices around the world regarding universal issues such as bedtime, potty training, pregnancy and weaning. The result: it allows for guilt-free parenting. 

It features, for example, how Chinese babies begin potty training as early as six months, that Brazilian toddlers drink coffee as early as when they enter kindergarten and that the Eskimos eat raw meat and drink caribou blood right after their first tooth. Even more surprising, we can read that among Akas pygmies, in Central Africa, babies suck daddy's nipples while mom goes hunting!