How old are your children and where did you have them?
I had met my husband and lived in Dubai for around eight years when we found out we were having a baby. I didn’t even consider going home to have the baby, as I was working there in a public relations agency. We considered Dubai as our home. While saying that, a lot of expatriates there do go home for a few months to have their babies. In fact, I worked right up to the day I was brought into hospital, which was a few days before the due date! I was in great form, so was really happy to do that. I had all three children in Dubai, Adam, 9, Leila, 8 and Lara, 5.
Why did you have your children abroad?What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
My antenatal care was great. There is a big English speaking community there, so there was plenty of support before and after the birth. I found it easy to meet other mums and join groups, which was fun, although obviously I missed my own mother. One great thing about having a baby when you are abroad is that you are creating your own family, that will always be with you.
As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Things were good, but sometimes when I was tired, I missed the support of my mother. I was lucky because I met a group of mums who encouraged me to breastfeed. It was very common there, and I never had any negative reactions. Naturally, I did cover up when I had to feed in cafes etc.
Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
We went to an Australian midwife for parenting classes beforehand and she warned us that in the public hospital, we would have to be really firm about certain things, eg not wanting an epidural, or episiotomy. She also told us to insist if I wanted to be active during the birth, and also to insist on breastfeeding. I found the hospital staff nice, but in some cases I felt they intervened more than necessary. When I went for a standard check up for my first child, they felt the heart beat was not strong enough, and kept me in, and ended up inducing me. But at the same time they kept giving me meals, which were curries. I was violently sick. On my second child, I didn’t go to hospital until I was quite advanced in labour, partially because I wanted to avoid unnecessary interventions. On my third child, I had to be induced after 12 days. Up to then, my doctor kept trying to get me to be induced, but she did listen whenI said I wanted to wait.
What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Research your options beforehand, and be firm if you can. Make sure your husband knows what you want. Don’t be too upset if the birth doesn’t go as you expected. And make sure to meet lots of other mums. It’s really important to build a support network.
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