Category Archives: Thailand

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: THAILAND

This week I talk to Francine who is Filipino and has 2 children, 1 of which, was born in Thailand as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

My name is Francine. I am from the Philippines. I came to Thailand in December 2004 – when my first child was just 10 months old – upon invitation from my aunt who is an international school teacher in Bangkok. I just graduated from college at the time and was trying to find a job back home. My aunt suggested to try my luck in Bangkok, but to come as a tourist first. If I thought it would be okay to have a job there, then I can make the decision to stay later on. I fell in love with Thailand ever since then. I have two daughters  — the first is now 13, and the younger one is 3. My first child is with my mom back home, who she grew up with. And my second was born and and being raised in Bangkok.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

I think, I didn’t really have any reason, or choice, for having my second one in Bangkok. It’s just that she came at a time when my partner and I decided that it’s actually time to have a second, and we were both in Bangkok.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

First and foremost is, that we are able to be hands-on in raising her. With my first one, I didn’t really get to have a lot of opportunities to be a parent to her. My mom filled in that role. We get to see each other on Yahoo Messenger, and then Skype when that technology came, but I didn’t get to have a first-hand experience of actually raising her. Also, raising a kid abroad means I have the chance to be multilingual to her — I speak my dialect, Tagalog, English, and Thai. When you have a kid back home, there is that complacency of not having to speak any other languages to him/her even if you do know some other languages. But here, I already foresee that she needs to be able to speak Thai in the future, so I start early with that. And she needs to be able to communicate in English when she goes to school later on. Also, since having my kid in Bangkok, I found out that processing government-related documents here are faster and more efficient. For example, securing a birth certificate for her. Even though it required three parts – translation, authentication at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and actual processing at the Philippine Embassy – it took me half the time if it was processed back home with a regular birth certificate.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

At first, I was apprehensive. Not with the language barrier, but with the whole having a kid again after 10 years! Filipinos are very superstitious. There are a lot of traditions that you need to go through during pregnancy and childbirth, and I forgot all of them! When our Filipino nanny came, she was the one who was leading us through all of them. But of course, I could have been more confident if my mom, who was a nurse, was by my side. It was a time when there was a barrage of scare news going on that I wasn’t sure which one to believe anymore. So if there was anything I read about or something that I don’t feel right about, I would call or text her and ask for her more medically-based advice.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Oh, a lot! Here, I found out that after giving birth, a mother can take a shower. Imagine my nanny’s horror when I told her that the nurse is preparing me for a shower! You see, Filipino women after they give birth, they are not allowed to take a shower — only a rub-down with a warm (emphasis on not cold), moist towel. We have the belief that childbirth is tasking on a woman’s body, that I can agree to, and the nerves will be damaged if you take a shower after. She will end up frazzled for life. Also, back home, women take it easy after childbirth — not a lot of walking around and doing heavy lifting. My nanny and my partner gave the nurse a massive side-eye when she asked me to get up from the bed and walk around, not 24 hours after I gave birth. And here, we are not supposed to buy baby clothes and items before childbirth as that is bad for the child, according to Thai superstition. But back home, having a child means one whole day of shopping spree for the baby’s clothes and stuff. When we came to the hospital on the afternoon that I gave birth, we had 1 big suitcase for the baby’s clothes and a small overnight bag for the mother.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

For them to do a lot of research. Giving birth and having kids abroad have certain nuances that you need to be aware of. Do you want home birth? A doula? Do you need an English- only facility? How much can your budget afford? What birth packages are available to you? You need to read up on them and find out as much information as you can. There are sites like that are excellent resources for expats. Also, you need to find a hospital and OB-GYNE doctor that you trust. Your OB, your husband, and you need to be a team when it comes to the birthing plan. You can’t have someone on your team that is not on the same page as you. And there is nothing wrong in over-preparation. You can even overdo it. And if you can, stay off of social media and questionable health news site. All the scaremongering is hindering you from enjoying this wonderful experience that lasts for only 9 months in your life.


About Francine: 

Francine is an aspiring maternity, newborn and family Photographer in Thailand – you can connect with her on Facebook.

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Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HOLLAND & THAILAND

having baby holland and thailandThis week I talk to Apple who is TCK and eternal expat. She shares her experience of having a baby in Holland, and another in Thailand as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:


The decision to have a baby in a country not one’s own is a big one for most expatriates. In situ is often the choice made, maybe with the help of the soon-to-be-grandmother willing to travel and assist with either existing children, or to give succour to a brand new mum. Others decide to fly back to their passport country for the delivery.


For me the decision was easy. Granted I was, neither time, in a country with sub-standard medical care; but the overriding fact was that as a TCK I did not consider my passport country my home. Wherever I happened to be living at the time was home.


Our daughter was born in Emmen, The Netherlands and I had nothing but praise for the care received throughout my pregnancy and after. The Dutch had post-natal care down to a fine art with home visits given by both the mid-wife and the kraamverzorgster, who helped with all things to do with the newborn. A comforting voice offering advice and sound commonsense to an at times weepy mother.


Neither did having a baby in Holland present any great cultural differences, and I was up and on my bike, along with my baby, remarkably quickly.


Still in the dark ages, before the Internet and mobile phones, we sent letters with stamps on them around the world three years later announcing the birth of our second child, in Bangkok, Thailand. It took a few weeks for the news to percolate through to family and friends but was still joyously received. A few months’ later congratulatory letters and cards finally caught us up after a relocation to Singapore shortly after the special delivery.


My doctor was a delightful Thai who happened also to be a friend. I remember being slightly peeved that he and my husband were engaged in the serious business of completing the Daily Telegraph’s cryptic crossword and were not, to my mind, focusing on the important things in life, me. But when push came to shove I had everyone’s attention.


On a gloriously sunny day in Bangkok at Sametivej Hospital just before lunch, Edward arrived with relatively little fuss considering he was ten days overdue, and tilted the scales at just over ten pounds. After lying with him in my arms for a while admiring this amazing creation and watching my husband’s delighted face, the newborn was taken to the nursery for a few rays under the lamp.


His father went home to tell our daughter about her brother’s safe arrival, which in those pre-sky-train days in Bangkok could take anything up to a couple of hours. I meanwhile was wheeled into my darkened room for a little rest and recuperation.
Dozing in and out of consciousness, happy and relaxed, I was woken properly by the door opening. In itself not a fantastic phenomena, but the breeze the act provoked created a ripple chain reaction along the polystyrene ceiling tiles, until finally the one above my bed lifted five or so inches before settling back with a sigh and a thud.


I was now truly awake and watched the diminutive nurse bustle in with a fresh jug of water and a beautiful arrangement of purple vanda orchids delivered by a friend.

“Sawadeekah,” she greeted me, pouring a glass of water.
“Sawadeekah,” I returned. Kob khun kah,” I thanked her as she handed me the glass.
“Oh Madam, so solly,” she continued, switching to English and fussing with the pillows.
“What?” I asked on instant alert, tears already flowing.
“Madam? What matter? Why you cly?” She asked patting my shoulder.
“What’s happened? My baby?”
“Oh Madam, no, no, baby OK.”
“Why are you sorry then?” I asked sniffling.
“Boy born year of Tiger vely stlong, velly difficult. Better wait for labbit.”
I cried from relief, and later pondered the thought that no matter where we have our babies in the world and no matter the research we have done, there will be cultural misunderstandings.

Twenty-five years later I am delighted to report our son, born in the Year of the Tiger has proved strong, but not difficult.


Apple Gidley writes and speaks on intercultural and expatriate issues based on her experiences as a lifetime global nomad. She has lived and worked in Africa, Asia, Europe and the US while raising two TCKs. She writes a monthly column for a Houston magazine and is published regularly in The Weekly Telegraph amongst others.
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