home or away


7 questions to ask as an expat having a baby overseas

16 July 2020
Away from your support network and the familiarity of your home country having a baby can feel particularly daunting. The good news is it needn’t be. With some careful preparation having a baby overseas can be a positive experience. Some questions first time overseas parents may want to consider include:

The answer to this question is going to depend on your individual situation. Ultimately you and your partner must be able to accept and embrace the differences there may be between having a child in your home country when compared to your new home. These may include:

  • differing cultural considerations
  • financial implications
  • lack of support network
  • language barriers
Medical costs for having a baby vary from country to country so it is important that you research this carefully. You must also take your expat status into consideration as some countries have different rates for expats and citizens when it comes to giving birth. For example, in Hong Kong it is less expensive for local residents with HK ID cards to give birth. 
Do you have international health insurance with maternity benefits? This may be a critical factor when deciding to have a baby overseas as it may provide you with access to better maternity care in your location. If you are not yet pregnant and would like to avail of expat health insurance with maternity benefits, be aware that you may need to have this coverage for a year before you will be covered for maternity costs. 
The rules around this will vary on your home country and current country of residence. For example, US citizens who have a child in another country can usually obtain US citizenship for their child once they meet relevant criteria. A common misconception is that if a child was born overseas they are automatically a citizen of that country or have dual citizenship. This is not the case; in most instances your child will acquire your citizenship, but you will have to research what you need to do specific to your home country. You should be able to obtain a birth certificate locally that you can use to register the birth in your home country. 

Maternity practice varies around the world. While you may receive the best possible care, it could be different to what may happen in your home country. Typical areas of difference include:

  • how care is delivered during pregnancy
  • home versus hospital birth
  • pain relief during birth
  • recovery time after birth
  • common customs and practices around having a baby

It is worth researching all of these areas and any others that you may not be familiar with before committing to pregnancy and birth while overseas

Reach out to your network in your current location to see if anyone else has started a family during their assignment. They may be able to provide you with first-hand advice. If you are new to your location expat forums are a great place to ask questions about pregnancy, birth and childcare. If possible, see if new or soon to be expat mothers meet in person to talk about their experiences or share tips or advice.

One of the benefits of having a baby in your home country is you are more likely to have family or close friends nearby to help in the early stages. This may not be the case in your expat destination. See what your options are when it comes to coping without family support. Does the spouse not carrying the child qualify for time off work? Do you have some friends you may be able to reach out to for help? For many of us, asking for help from people we don’t know well is difficult but sometimes it is required and you may be surprised by the kindness people show once they know their assistance is welcome. 

Starting a family should be a magical, momentous event in your life. Having a baby overseas shouldn’t change that. With some planning and research welcoming your bundle of joy into the world will be a wonderful experience, no matter where you are living at the time.