Tag Archives: having baby abroad

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HOLLAND

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Lynn who is American and had her first daughter in the US and her second in the Netherlands. Here is her story:

having a baby abroad in hollandTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

I am American and my husband is Italian. We have two daughters, ages 3.5 and 1.5. We had our first daughter in San Francisco and then moved to Delft, Netherlands when she was two months old. Our second daughter was born here in Delft.

Why did you have your children abroad?

We had been living in the Netherlands for a year when I got pregnant with our second child. Thanks to my wonderful local mom’s group (DelftMaMa) I didn’t have any concerns about having a baby here and I never thought about going back to the US for the birth.

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

One of the great things about having a baby abroad is that it gives you the chance to question the status quo in your own country and think about what kind of care and support is important to you (versus what everyone tells you that you need). The medical staff in the Netherlands had a much more laid back approach that resulted in fewer tests and less invasive appointments. As a second time mother, I appreciated the hands-off attitude.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Overall, I felt positive about my experience as an expat expectant mother. My main concern was that my requests for pain relief would not be honored. The Dutch have a history of denying requests for pain meds (although this is changing), and the midwife and doctors all told me that it might not be possible to get an epidural if the anesthesiologist was not available.  That certainly added some stress to my pregnancy! I was lucky in the end to arrive at the hospital right before the anesthesiologist left for the evening…I hate to think about how my delivery would have gone had I shown up an hour later!

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

A major difference I encountered was opinions about how postnatal care should be handled.  In the US I spent 3 days in the hospital and then went home. The medical staff encouraged me to get up and moving and I was back out walking around the neighborhood within a few days. The Dutch believe that mothers and babies should stay at home and do the minimum possible for at least the first week. Mother and baby are sent home as quickly as possible (as soon as a couple of hours after the birth) and once home, a special care nurse (kraamzorg) comes and helps you at home for the next week. The nurse handles all of the check-ups, appointment scheduling, cleaning and chores so that you can focus on yourself and your baby. While I loved having the kraamzorg nurse come to my house (every country should have this system), I did have a disagreement with her over whether or not I could leave the house. She did not even want me to walk one block to the grocery store. I had to get the midwife to give me medical permission to leave.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I would suggest that mothers connect with a local mother’s group and get to know other women who have given birth in the area. They will help you get answers to all of your questions, give the best advice and support you (and your new baby) through every step of the way.

About Lynn and Nomad Parents:

Find out more about Lynn on her site Nomad Parents. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Nomad Parents is the online community for expat families in the Netherlands. The site is full of helpful information, real stories and regular articles from experts relevant to parents with children ages 0-4. Come and visit us to find out what parenting in the Netherlands is all about.


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Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: EGYPT

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Nancy who is Canadian and had her first daughter in the USA, and her second in Egypt. Here is her story:

Canadian expat baby abroad EgyptTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

I was born and raised in Canada but met and married my husband in the United States. We have two children and one on the way. Our oldest daughter was born in the United States, our second daughter was born in Egypt. It looks like we’ll have our third child in the States since that’s where we’re living now.

Why did you have your children abroad?

My husband was attending graduate school at the American University in Cairo when I became pregnant with our second baby. Since we were living in Egypt that’s where our little one was born. Our other two children were born in the States also for the simple reason that we happened to live there when they were due.

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

I think cost is a huge factor—having a baby in Egypt was far cheaper than having a baby in the United States. We knew all of our costs up front and even chose our hospital room based on how much we wanted to pay. We were completely unsurprised by the total when we received our bill. I think in the United States a lot of new parents are shocked when they get their bill in the mail, whether they have insurance or not. It was nice to not have to worry about whether we’d be able to afford to have our child.

We’ll also always feel so connected to our children’s birth places, including Egypt where we don’t have citizenship, because the birth of a baby is such a momentous milestone—almost like the ultimate souvenir.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was nervous at first because in Egypt we were so far away from our family but I was friends with one woman who had given birth in Egypt and she introduced me to several others and all of a sudden I had a full circle of friends giving me advice and courage and strength. I did feel a little conspicuous walking around with my big, pregnant belly toward the end of my pregnancy because not a lot of Egyptian women seem to leave their house when they’re pregnant—there are so many children running around and so many babies being carried in baskets and on shoulders but I rarely saw any pregnant

I think that wherever you have your first baby kind of becomes the norm for what you expect with future pregnancies. I had an American friend who had her first baby in Egypt and her second in the States and she felt that her experience in the States was weird compared to her experience in Egypt. I think I felt the opposite way because I had my first baby in the States so I noticed what they did differently in Egypt.

I think one of the biggest factors for me right now are my pregnancy cravings. I seem to always want things that I can’t have—for example, I’ve been craving dill pickle chips but they don’t have those where we live, though they are very popular in Canada. In Egypt I aways wanted peanut butter and that’s hard to come by there!

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

I was handed a pamphlet about breast-feeding by a friend and inside it recommended that, if you veil, you should take a vitamin D
supplement. I had never thought about that before because I don’t veil but I thought it was a good point. I think the biggest thing that I noticed was that everyone around me was always very concerned about the temperature of my children—whether they were too hot or too cold. They would scold me for not having socks on my infant when it was boiling hot outside. My
pediatrician though was very understanding of Western traditions and never criticized my parenting techniques, which was nice of him.

The whole delivery went much differently than I expected as well. The nurses kept trying to get me to lie down, which I didn’t find comfortable, but having me sit up was making them uncomfortable. It ended up being a fine experience but the cultural differences were very frustrating at the time. My birth story can be found on my blog.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

If you’re far away from family, or even if you’re not, make an effort to connect with other young mothers in your area who can recommend doctors and midwives and hospitals. I got so much good advice and made some wonderful friendships that I don’t think I would have made otherwise. It was so nice to have a support group of women who were going through the same thing that I was—raising children is difficult no matter where you are in the world.

You can find out more about Nancy on her blog


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Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Carrieanne who is American and had her daughter in France. Here is her story:

having a baby abroadTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

I am a 29-year-old American writer. I was born in Connecticut, but raised on the sunny beaches of Florida. I spent my days as the head of a multimillion-dollar corporation and nights dreaming of living overseas. I met my future husband while on vacation in France. He moved to the USA and followed me to Montreal. Eventually, I gave up life in the fast lane and followed him back to France. Our little French American girl was born in Bayeux, France last year.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

We decided to start our family in France because we both preferred life here. I entertained the idea of going back to the USA, but there were many obstacles.

If we moved to the USA, it takes months to recieve a spouse Visa. My husband would have to wait in France while I prepare the application in the USA. I did not want to be separated from him for that long.

Also, we are self-employed so health insurance would be expensive. I do not think insurers cover pregnancies if the applicant is already pregnant. In France, our mutual (private health insurance) costs 70 euros per month and we are 100% covered. Last year I broke a finger and was pregnant – we paid nothing out-of-pocket. Healthcare in the USA is so expensive that it would not make financial sense for us to have a baby there.

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

I like that everyone in France gets standard care. It does not matter which doctor you see, you know when you will have your ultrasounds, which blood tests will be done, and when your next appointment will be. In the USA, each doctor handles pregnancies very differently. Even though care for pregnancies is standard in France, doctors are not limited. If they think additional tests or ultrasounds are needed, they can prescribe them.

Besides free healthcare, another incredible benefit was qualifying for maternity leave. I am self-employed, yet I received about 6,500 euros for taking time off work. We also received about 900 euros from social security when I was 7 months pregnant, and 150 euros from our mutual as a gift. Now, we receive money for her each month and will recieve 9 hours of in-home daycare for free each month. I could not imagine getting all this in the USA.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was scared and anxious at the beginning of my pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect. I could not find the information I needed online and did not have the vocabulary to communicate efficiently with doctors. I was frustrated because I felt out of control. As I gained more information and my French became better, I felt more at ease with the situation.

Blogging about my pregnancy in France helped me relax. It felt great to provide others with information that I could not find online. I received encouragement and support from my readers, which kept me going whenever I felt frustrated.

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

When I was pregnant, it felt like my gynecologist was not taking me seriously when I requested a natural birth. I watched a story on the news a few nights ago and think that attitudes here are changing. Many French women are beginning to demand a less medicalized approach to giving birth.

After my daughter was born, I was almost forced to bottlefeed while in the hospital. The puericultrice and midwives took my husband aside and convinced him that I was endangering our daughter by breastfeeding. It was very emotional and difficult for me to stand my ground, especially without the full support of my husband. We later figured out that my daughter was not latching properly, and then she gained weight quickly. If I was in the USA, I could have left the hospital after she was born, met with a lactation consultant, and avoided all this stress.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation? 

Relax and learn French. It is important for you to be able to communicate efficiently with the doctors and midwives. If you usually count on your husband or significant other for translations, understand that there will be times when he will not be there. My husband is an English to French translator, but there were pregnancy-related terminologies that even he could not translate.

If you find yourself pregnant in France, I wrote a book specifically for you – French Mamma’s: Pregnant in France. I provide details of what to expect, including the standard medical schedule, emergency contact information, and sample ultrasound results. All chapters are in English and French, with important pregnancy-related vocabulary words that you should know. At the end of each chapter are practice sentences to help you learn the vocabulary words, as well as an answer key. You can download the first two chapters for free on my website.

You can read more about being pregnant in France on my French Mamma blog, or follow me onTwitter or Facebook.



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Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: USA

This week I talk the Gauri AKA the “Loving Earth Mama” who is half English, half Portugese and is a real TCK who had her daughter in the US – I won’t go into too much detail as she’s got it all covered as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. Here is her story:

having baby abroad USA TCKTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?
I was born in Boston where my parents travelled to study complementary medicines and join the health food movement 🙂 My dad is Portuguese, my mother is English. I grew up in Portugal which we moved to when I was 5. At 18 I went to the UK to do a degree and ended up living there for 15 years. I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my hubby (who himself is bi-cultural: British-born Chinese) and 20 month old baby girl (nicknamed Nica). She was born in San Fran after we had been living here for a year and a half.

Why did you have your daughter abroad? What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
We didn’t plan to spawn abroad, as such… we just moved here because it is so sunny and wonderful and then found our life naturally moved that way. But, though there are many challenges – not least of which being away from my family and friends – there are some benefits to living far from your tribe, too.

When I first gave birth I concentrated on the negative. I cried ‘cos my mother wasn’t here to help me (though she does help me a lot from afar and comes for long visits, too) and ‘cos I had no friends coming over with food and comfort. ‘It takes a village’, I sobbed, ‘and mine is the other side of an ocean’. Then slowly I remembered the reasons why I left Portugal. I LOVE that country but I left because, even living in the capital, I felt smothered and hemmed in, like I was living in… err… a small village – you know, where everybody is up in your business, talking about you, judging you, interfering? And I remembered that actually I don’t like ‘village’ life, at all!

Over here, a continent away, I was able to completely re-invent myself as a mother. I was able to start from scratch which, though painful, is also incredibly invigorating and empowering. It was also freeing: breaking with the old ways, ‘the way things have always been done’ was much easier, over here. I mean, for example, I often heard other pregnant women complain about how people would give them so much unsolicited advice. That didn’t happen to me. I assume it was because the people I knew here didn’t feel close enough to me to do that and the people who are close to me are, well, far – so nobody’s opinions were getting in the way of me forming my own.

And let’s be honest, being into alternative health and natural birth, I was always going to do things a little differently… but if I were in Portugal I’d be feeling judged and different and crazy and that would undoubtedly lead to me second guess myself all the time and, on some things, probably bowing to the pressure, if for no other reason than I would have known no better.

On the other hand, here in California, I have been able to surround myself by a network of incredibly insightful, smart, alternative, gentle mamas. I knew so few people here that once I had a baby I really had to go out there and build community, attending every mother-baby group I could find. The hidden advantage there is that it really enabled me to ‘pick and chose’ and connect with friends who resonate with who I am and with my life choices, NOW.

My old friends are all wonderful but don’t necessarily share my present parenting ideas or ideals.
And these new mama-friends teach me so much (whereas in Portugal I may have been myself a bit of a natural parenting pioneer…?). Here, I can learn from others leading the way in conscious, green, natural parenting. I am so awed and inspired by these women.

If I were in Portugal or even in England, while I would have been held, loved and supported, I would have undoubtedly relied on hanging out with my old friends who see me as the old me and expect me (without thinking about it) to do things the way everyone there does it… I would find myself having to explain/justify/re-think why I do things differently (like co-sleep, breastfeed a toddler, do sign language, don’t eat sugar or watch TV, etc, etc) ALL THE TIME. Phew. I feel tired just thinking about it. The clean break here has been amazing in allowing me to find out who I am as a mother with only my soul and some books as guidance – along with my amazing, supportive husband.

US TCK having baby abroadAs an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
I felt blessed and embraced, as people here are very open and positive. At the same time, I also felt very alone and isolated staring down such a big life event, knowing nearly nobody else locally who was expecting or a parent. But honestly, most of the pregnancy I was blissed out and looking forward to my heaven that was coming after giving birth (or so I thought). It was really only after I gave birth that the magnitude of this life change really hit me – I was no longer a career woman but a stay-at-home-mom with no community. Enter the ‘going to EVERY mothering support group and local play groups I could find’ stage.

Mostly, as an expectant mother, I just smiled and enjoyed the state-of-the-art health facilities and options you get here (all paid for, though, whereas in Europe I would have had access to free healthcare). I did wish there were more independent birthing centers, as there are in Europe so that my choices weren’t as stark as: big hospital or homebirth – which I ultimately went for. I would have loved midwifery to be more standard here, too. And I yearned for the kind of work-related benefits you get in Europe. I couldn’t believe most women here, in the US, only take 3 months off work! How can you possibly bond and practice natural breastfeeding (no pumping) in those conditions? ‘You can’t’, is the answer and so many women give up breastfeeding here, because pumping doesn’t always cut it for them. Sad.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Hmm, not just opinions but practices. I am pretty sure if I had stayed in Portugal (and perhaps even in England) I would not have known people who ate their placentas, practice Elimination Communication and perhaps I wouldn’t even have a name for co-sleeping… or would I? I do tend to ferret out the alternative communities wherever I go, so maybe motherhood would have been the catalyst for me to seek them in Portugal, too.
In California, though, safe in my little circle of AP and alternative moms, I live in a kind of a bubble where extended breastfeeding, gentle discipline and self-directed play are all if not the norm, at least absolutely accepted. I definitely think I would hear people’s opinions about these things if I were living somewhere else. So glad they are ‘nomal’, at least in pockets, here.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Stay connected to your community at home, your good, old friends who really know you, will call you out when you are being stupid and sing to your soul when you need sympathy. They are important and you will need that (alongside the support you get from your new community in the place you move to). Skype is invaluable in this way.

Ask for what you need, even from family and friends who are abroad. If you need/want them to come over for a few weeks/months after the birth – ask. I know this depends a lot on economic conditions and perhaps they can’t do that, but you can ask them to call you every day for 5 mins, just to check in on you or to send you a care package or to write long emails about mundane things back home so you feel part of things, even as your life changes so much and everything else is off center, at least this will be familiar. I didn’t ask my mom to stay after the birth and I regret it, now. Okay, regret is too strong a word, but I learned from that. I learned that I need to ask and I need to be open to whatever answer comes, even if it is a ‘no’ but at least then I asked.

Then, after nourishing your roots, go out and spread your branches into your new community of choice (I do hope you moved by choice! and not only necessity). You will need them, too. You will need lots of mothers in your circle. That is the best healing, post-partum, talking to other mothers!

Learn more about Gauri by Liking her on Facebook, following her on Twitter and checking out her blog


Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: UNITED KINGDOM

having baby abroad UK This week I talk the Lerner AKA the “Stay At Home Babe” who is American and had first baby in the US and her second in the UK 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?

I’m an American, born and raised in the Midwest. I grew up in Oklahoma, went to boarding school in Indiana and then traveled around like a vagabond until I got pregnant and went back home to have a more settled life when my son was born.

My oldest is seven and was born in Missouri (USA), my youngest is almost three and she was born in England.

Why did you have your children abroad?

My husband’s English and I got pregnant with our daughter while we were still living on separate continents. Whoops! As my third trimester began and he still couldn’t get transferred to the states for work, it became clear we’d have to relocate to England if we were going to be in one place when she was born. She wouldn’t listen to reason and just wait a few more months.

Having baby abroadWhat do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

I really like that the UK has a midwife-centric system. The only time a pregnant woman sees a doctor is if there’s something medically wrong. It just made sense to me. Pregnancy isn’t an illness, why would I need to see a doctor if I’m not sick? ObGyn’s are trained surgeons… I didn’t need surgery, I was just pregnant. I felt really at ease with the midwife team I met when I arrived.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I really loved it. I was hoping for a home birth and the midwives here really support that and have a mobile birthing pack that they will leave at your house a couple of weeks before your due date so you’re all set up when the baby comes. I ended up transferring to the hospital in the second stage of my labor and having a natural birth in the hospital because that’s just how I felt in the moment and there’s no reasoning with a woman in labor. But, overall I really liked it over here. The system just made sense to me. My first was born in the states and it always felt a little bit too sterile, not as natural as I would have liked in an ideal world. They’re much more relaxed about pregnancy and birth over here. I loved it.

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

Uhoh, I think I got a little ahead of myself and may have addressed this with my last answer. But one thing that I found to be very different over here is that the midwives did follow-up visits after the birth at my home, rather than the mother coming into the office. They came by a couple of times the first week and several times during the thirty days after the birth. I was amazed! I don’t think my own family stopped by that many times in the states.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I think the biggest key for any expectant mother is to just be as informed as humanly possible. Know how your physician/midwife plans to proceed and make sure that’s what you want and feel comfortable with as well. I think the most important thing as an expectant mother is to feel supported, and in collaboration with the plan. Sitting back and being shuffled through the birth plan… or worse, the actual birth… is a sure path to a less-than-positive birth experience.

Trust yourself and your body, along with the qualified input of your birthing team. It will all be over and gone so soon; and while some parts of being hugely pregnant can be miserable, there really are some great memories worth holding onto.


Lerner is a heavily-tattooed, hen-keeping, profanity-loving, die-hard foodie mom who has a personal blog (with moxy) at Stay At Home Babe. She spends way too much time on Twitter and is also available on Facebook or by email at babe@stayathomebabe.com


Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com