Tag Archives: motherhood

Happy 2nd Birthday!

BiP just celebrated her 2nd birthday.

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since she arrived and changed our lives forever.

To celebrate I’ve decided to write her a letter, daddy did it last year!

In a few years she’ll be able to read it for herself.

To my darling BiP! 

Happy 2nd birthday darling!  

I had no idea you’d change my life so much. You are my shining light. You are truly my proudest achievement! 

You are a little girl now. No longer a baby. 

And what a character you have! You are really cheeky monkey. You are fearless and agile, you clearly get that from your Daddy

You speak more now, mostly in French which means I have to get up to speed with my own French. You understand both English and French perfectly which is astounding how you are bilingual already! 

Your smile is infectious – your chipped front tooth horrified me at first, but now it suits you. In a few years it will fall out and I hope you take better care of your new tooth 🙂

You still have barely any hair – it looks like it will be really curly. I blame myself because I saw a 2 year old with the same amount of hair when I was pregnant with you and commented that it was a bit odd. LOL! 

Over the last few months you decided you no longer wanted to wear diapers – I guess all the Elimination Communication paid off as you made the decision to only wear “pantpies”.

You are a serious foodie like your parents – perhaps it’s thanks to Baby-Led Weaning. The more spiced up the better for you even if you demand “burger’ and ‘baby-pasta” all the time.

To the horror of a few you are still breastfeeding. You decided on your 2nd birthday that you prefered a book over a cuddle and feed with Mummy. That’s ok, you are growing up. I am delighted that a year on that we can still say that we will wean when WE want to. Although I think you will probably decide before I’m ready. When that day comes I am ready.

Happy 2nd Birthday BiP!

We love you more than words can ever describe.

Mummy xxx 

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: USA

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Shadi who is Iranian but grew up in Dubai and had her daughter in the United States (she’s also expecting her second baby). Here is her story:

iranian expat baby abroad USATell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

My name is Shadi. I am from Iran. I grew up in Dubai and moved to the States at the age of 19 to peruse my studies. I have been here in the States, South Carolina for 14 years minus a break from living here where I completed my masters in the UK. Ironically, I met my “English” husband in the States so we have all kinds of cultures going on in our household! We have a 3 year old daughter and I had her here in South Carolina, US where we live today.

Why did you have your daughter abroad? What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad? 

Growing up so internationally I didn’t have a specific preference of where I would like to have children. It was going to be where I was living at the time. My daughter is lucky to now have both American and British citizenships. I grew up with an Iranian passport and I know all too well how hard traveling was so I am very happy that my daughter will never experience that. I’m sure there are support groups for moms and women everywhere, there are immensely supportive groups you can find here like the MOMS Club, which I am a part of, I don’t know what I would have done without them being so far away from my family. Women need women, no matter how supportive our husbands are! 🙂

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was very lucky to have a smooth pregnancy, I really enjoyed being pregnant. I was also working throughout my pregnancy so that kept me busy. There are so many classes you can choose to take here and if you are looking for support, it is at your doorstep. I was especially surprised at how much emphasis there was on breastfeeding. That was one of the best classes I took, it helped me so much. I ended up breastfeeding for 16 months.

Of course I had the anxieties that any person would have while pregnant, especially being away from my mom, and reading, reading, reading helped a lot, as well as talking to friends and family who have had kids!

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

Not necessary with my pregnancy and of course with parenting, everyone has an opinion! While pregnant, I got great care from the doctors, I went for checkups regularly and towards the end, the visits became more and more frequent because that is what is asked of you.

My biggest issue about having a baby here was the clinical feel of it, there is a protocol and it is what it is. Most doctors treat having a baby like it’s a medical process, get it out, job done. I didn’t feel that connection with my doctors. Yes “doctors,” I was part of a medical group so I had many and whoever was available that day was going to deliver my child although at the end I found out it’s the nurses that do everything anyway!

Also, while I was pregnant, I found out that the typical process that takes place here, is they don’t let you go overdue by much, you will get induced, which is a very painful and rushed labor and therefore, you end up getting an epidural, which ends up in a c-section because you and the baby are absolutely exhausted, guess what? It is exactly what happened to me! However, thanks to my husband, we have good insurance, therefore, I had a large private room to myself, great care and at the women’s hospital I delivered at, there was a nurse that visited me daily to help me with breastfeeding, even bra fitting! I also did get to hold my baby pretty much right away even though I had a c-section, my husband held her next to my head until they were done stitching me up so I had my constant contact until I was able to breastfeed her rolling into our private room.

To be honest, in my opinion, the whole attachment to your birth plan is a 1st time mother thing, once it actually happens, however it happens, all that matters is that you are both healthy.

I would like to add here that I am now pregnant with my second and have chosen a different doctor. This doctor will be the only doctor I will see throughout my pregnancy and he will be the only one delivering my child. I also have the chance to have a natural birth even though I had a c-section 1st time around. The choices are there, you just have to look for them.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation? 

My advice would be, embrace your pregnancy, follow your instinct, listen to your body, do your research, and most importantly, find a support group. Women have been having babies for centuries, where you have your child doesn’t matter, the end result is you and your baby, that is all that matters.



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

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: SPAIN

Having baby in spain

Bibsey Mama and her daughter

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Bibsey Mama who is British and had her daughter in Spain. Here is her story:

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

I am a first- time full-time mum living in Southern Spain. My partner and I left the rat race in London and moved here just over two years ago when I was only a few weeks pregnant. My little girl, was born in hospital here in Spain. She is now 19 months old and is a walking, talking and being generally fabulous. We have a lovely life and this is a beautiful country but I do miss family and friends and the support that they naturally provide.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

I didn’t specifically ‘chose’ to have my child abroad. I found out that I was pregnant a matter of days before we packed up the car and moved to Spain. I do wonder sometimes what we would have done if I had got pregnant a few months earlier. Had there been a bit more time to consider things perhaps we would have stayed put so that I could have had the baby in England. As it was we had both left our jobs, given up our flat, packed about 90% of our belongings off the charity shop and said most of our goodbyes. I don’t think that at the time staying in the UK even occurred to us as an option. I think I am glad that this is how it happened. I am not good with difficult decisions and given more time to think about things I would have been in a right pickle.

The move to Spain was right for us in so many ways. However, my experience of giving birth in hospital here in Spain was not good. And I can’t help but wonder if I would have been any better off in the UK.

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

The list of benefits to bringing up your children abroad could be as long as your arm and so dependent on the country that you move to of course. Here in Spain children are adored by the whole of society. There are no looks of disapproval if you are out and about with your child even if she is bawling her head off. The Spanish are just incredibly sociable and children are embedded in almost every aspect of life. And breast feeding in public is so accepted here which makes it much easier when it is your first time.

The downside to this is that everyone has an opinion. When my little one was very small I couldn’t leave the house with her without someone coming up to me to tell me that she would be too cold/hot in whatever I had her dressed. After a while I just came to accept this as friendly interest. It was either that or go a little bit mad with the interference.

Other benefits of having kids here in Spain is how much safer and more stable society feels here. The kids play on the street (shame about all the dog poo though) and everyone is looking out for them: older kids; groups of old men who sit around shooting the breeze and watching the world, mothers and their babies go by; and of course the ubiquitous Spanish abuela.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Truthfully, I felt a little bit small and alone. My Spanish was not that great when I arrived but, as the pregnancy was a bit of a wonderful surprise, I had not imagined that on my arrival in Spain I would have to negotiate midwives appointments, scans, blood tests etc. I felt like I was letting my baby down when I didn’t understand everything that was going on. I wondered at times if we had been incredibly irresponsible to plough on and come here when I was pregnant especially when, at the age of 39, I was considered high risk.

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

Regarding the pregnancy and the birth, I am aware that the Spanish system is incredibly procedure-driven and quite invasive in comparison to the UK. The numerous scans towards the end of the pregnancy seem to me to be a kind of interference.

What I do find here is that there is quite a lot of pressure to put your child into guardería (nursery) very early whatever your circumstances. I often find myself justifying to people why, at the the age of 19 months, I haven’t sent Bibsey to guardería yet and don’t intend to for a little while longer. My circumstances allow me to have my child at home with me for a bit longer and I am lucky for that. I don’t judge people who have made different choices. And of course some people don’t have the choices that I do.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

This is a tough one. If language is a problem, then you just have to be brave. I can remember pushing and pushing and pushing the medical professionals to help me understand what was going on and what was expected of me – almost forcing their patience out of the them. Go with your own instinct. Don’t be brow beaten into doing something that you don’t feel is right for you or your child – just as you would in your own country in fact. It’s your body and your child. I have also had a miscarriage here in Spain and I know that there were questions that I should asked but didn’t because I was too shocked and therefore unable to find the words in Spanish.

Oh, and get online, search forums, blogs, expat websites, local activities – find other women in the same boat and go out and meet them. It worked for me. One of my best friends here in Spain is someone I met on a baby website forum. When you are away from ‘home’ you need all the support that you can get.

You can find out more about Bibsey Mama on her Blog, Twitter, and Facebook


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


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: SINGAPORE

having a baby in Singapore

Crystal's daughters

This week I talk to Crystal who is American. She shares her experience of having baby in the USA and in Singapore 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 33, and when I’m not doing the wife/mom thing, I give workshops and write about sexuality during pregnancy as well as reconnecting with yourself and your partner after baby. I also love to write fiction, do photography, and bake.

My husband is a 35 year old fellow American (of Indian descent), and although he’s lived abroad many times before (as a child and as an adult), this is my first posting abroad (other than a highly structured program for one month in college). We’ve been married about five and a half years, and have two daughters; Elanor (3) and Rhiannon (born October 2011). Ravi and I are both from Massachusetts, and had been based out of the greater Boston area on and off since we were each in college in the late 90’s/early 00’s.

Elanor was born in our hometown of Boston, Massachusetts in the US and Rhiannon was born in Singapore, where we currently live.

Why did you have your children abroad?

This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make. I agonized over the choice because Elanor became deathly ill after her birth, and we don’t have answers as to why she got as sick as she did. I’m also high risk (diabetic with pregnancy, and I was in the early stages of developing pre-eclampsia when we elected to induce Ellie’s birth). I knew that my care would require a lot of bells and whistles, and I just wasn’t sure I could find or felt confident about here in Singapore. However, I was very lucky to find a great OB who was willing to email with my OB in the states and adapt my care to simulate what I would have gotten back home (the same tests, the ante-natal assessments, etc). I was given a very thorough private tour of the hospital where I delivered, and they assured me that again, they could customize my care to meet my concerns.


Finally, giving birth in the US would have separated our family for 5 or more months as I can’t fly after 32 weeks, and the baby would need to be 6 weeks old to fly (or older, as getting a passport would have been a much slower process in the US than it was in Singapore). We were willing to do so if my condition had ever indicated that the US was where I needed to be, but thankfully while not an easy pregnancy, I remained stable enough to deliver in Singapore, and to remain with my husband and elder daughter while waiting for the younger to arrive.


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

In Singapore, once you find the right provider (I went through 5 OB’s–I found that the older, male OB’s in particular were very authoritarian and were not forthcoming with information—my OB is a younger woman, which I think had a lot to do with our connection and her flexibility), the care you receive is incredibly personal and customizable. Few people have insurance, so there’s no one dictating how frequently you see your OB, how often you get an ultrasound, or exactly what tests you HAVE to have. It’s between you and your provider to decide.


I think what blew me away the most was how personal the care was. When I needed to be rehydrated (I had hyperemesis and threw up constantly), I just went to my OB’s office and she inserted the IV herself. When I had a fall and needed to go see labor and delivery triage, she came in from home to check on me and the baby herself. There was never any question if she’d be the one to deliver my baby once she checked her calendar to ensure she wouldn’t be out of town near my due date. When my condition warranted close monitoring, we didn’t have to argue with “policy”–we just agreed that I would be seen more often. When I was hospitalized for early labor, and again after my daughter was born, my doctor dropped by my room daily (sometimes twice daily). I never questioned who would deliver my baby, or who would look after me…I knew it would be the doctor I’d picked and felt safe with.


As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Like I said, I had a lot of initial anxiety. Boston is known for being one of the best places to receive medical care in the world, and having had a medical pregnancy, I was worried that I couldn’t get the level of care in Singapore that I’d become accustomed to in Boston. Imagine my surprise, then, that by the end of the pregnancy there were plenty of things I liked *better* about Singaporean care!


The OB I chose allowed me to have a lot of say in my care. This had its pluses (such as specifying which ante-natal tests I wanted) and its minuses (when we were deciding when to induce, I would have preferred less say and more objective science as to whether or not I should deliver on a given day). She was also really awesome about letting my former OB in the US have a lot of say regarding testing, and she also was given input when my condition began to deteriorate and we were making the decision regarding how much longer to allow my pregnancy to progress (I had Rhiannon at 35w 3d because of pre-eclampsia).


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

Well, I did get in trouble with an auntie (older woman) one time when I was visibly pregnant for drinking iced water. Many Asian cultures (including the Chinese, whom are the dominant ethnic group in Singapore) believe that pregnant women should only drink warm water, and that cold water is bad for you.


I’m also flouting convention a bit in not staying home for the first month after having a baby, and I’ve had strangers tell me that I have no business being out with the baby so soon. There’s a local practice called the “confinement month” where a confinement nurse comes over and prepares special foods for you and gives personal care to help restore balance to the body. I think there are aspects of the confinement month that are really cool (such as the only thing you should be doing is bonding with your baby) but there’s plenty that just doesn’t vibe with my American ways (not washing your hair for 40 days? No thanks!).

Breastfeeding is not popular in Singapore, where in the US there’s almost the suggestion that you’re a bad mom for not breastfeeding (which was hard for me as my breastfeeding relationship with Elanor didn’t work out). This has pluses and minuses. If you’re ambivalent about nursing or if you don’t want to/can’t, there isn’t all the mommy judgment and attitude that gets thrown your way in the US. As a mom who was on the receiving end of that judgment (Elanor couldn’t nurse for a long list of reasons) I was relieved to know that I would be spared that this time around if things didn’t work out with Rhiannon and breastfeeding. On the flip side, as a mom who *does* breastfeed my daughter, it was really frustrating to have nurses at the hospital suggest formula to help with weight gain and blood sugar, when both were within the acceptable limits of our pediatrician. There is support, but you have to really seek it out, which might make it tougher for women who don’t have as supportive a pediatrician as we do (she’s a mom who breastfed both her boys for over 2 years each).


There’s not the culture of fear in Singapore that there is in the US. I went home while pregnant (while some stuff about Singapore rocks, the markup on baby stuff does not…I made a special trip home to stock up on things that were too expensive or that I couldn’t find here…) and I was taken aback at the culture of fear in the US surrounding parenting. All of those “THINGS THAT ARE HURTING KIDS on News at 11” and the constant news about toy recalls (I haven’t heard about ONE recall since we moved here), and articles about all the things I should be worried about was pretty exhausting. I remember being annoyed by it when I lived there, but after being absent form it, it was really overwhelming. I like that in Singapore there’s this basic assumption that your kids are going to be fine (okay, they’re a bit nuts about extra schooling and that sort of thing, but we’re still a few years away from that).


The thing that’s been hardest to adjust to, though, is that Singapore is very much a closed society in some regards. There are very strict gender roles and not a lot of acceptance for homosexuality. We are very liberal on these issues, and when I found out I was having another girl, I was relieved…my husband has long hair, but if a son of ours wanted long hair as well, he get in trouble in school for it! I have a lot of LGBT friends and I identify as bi-sexual myself…I definitely worry about the impact of living in a homosexuality-negative country if either of my girls turned out to be lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We make a point of reading LGBT friendly books to the girls, and emphasizing that they can love whomever they want (which might sound silly given their ages) because it’s important to us to pass along these values, which are not consistent with our current home country.


What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I think finding the right OB is the most important thing here in Singapore. Knowing what you want and discussing those goals with the OB up front is very important. Making sure that you’re informed about what all of your choices are and then advocating for yourself is important, regardless of where you give birth. Once you find the right person to work with, it’s a great country in which to give birth.

Crystal is a wife and mom who writes and does part time sexuality education. Someday, when she has “free time,” she’d love to go back to school and learn to be a pastry chef just for fun…a desire influenced by far too many hours spent watching cake making shows on Food Network. She writes about life in Singapore, her adjustment to the expat life, and her two girls on her Blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.



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

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: TURKEY

Having a baby in TurkeyThis week I talk to Suzie as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She had her son in Turkey. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your son and where did you have him?

I’m Suzie, 26, originally from Wales and I’ve been in Istanbul, Turkey now for 5years. I met my /turkish husband here and our son M was born in March this year. He was born in Istanbul.

Why did you have your son abroad?What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

When I first became pregnant, I expected I’d want to return to the UK to give birth. As the pregnancy sunk in, I realised that I didn’t want to take our baby home from the hospital to anywhere other than home, which meant giving birth here. It turned out to be a wonderful decision. Unlike the UK, I had monthly appointments with ultrasounds at each check*, I had my doctors cell phone number to call at any concern, I got to choose the doctor, and hospital and felt in control of our monitoring. Yes, we had to pay for the appointments/birth but I was able to offset the cost with my husbands national insurance and the pregnancy and birth in total cost a fraction of a private birth with the same options in the UK. The downside was I was unable to consider a homebirth, which I would have probably opted for in the UK.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Overwhelmed by the differences at times,  and having no other pregnant friends or Mums of babies here, a little isolated. On the other hand, Turkey is a baby/pregnant friendly country so I never had to stand on a bus or wait in line!

expat having a baby in TurkeyDid you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

It is rare that a parenting decision we make is in line with the ‘traditional’ Turkish opinion of what we should do and that can be tough going as people don’t hesitate to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that your choice is wrong. For example, a nurse told me using cotton nappies with M would cause nappy rash not prevent it, I’ve lost count of the number of strangers who have chastised me for carrying M in a ring sling or wrap, and people frequently tell me to put more clothes on him, cover him up. But, their intentions are all in the right place and I try to remeber that; plus, my in-laws have been fantastic in supporting the decisions we’ve made, even when they don’t understand them themselves.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Trust your gut and talk to your partner. There have been times when I have felt like just giving in for the ease, but have stuck to my instinct and ultimately have felt good about the choices we’ve made. Likewise, talking to my husband has often made a big difference to how I feel and he has been able to deal with some of the problems I was facing head-on, whereas I’d just have let them go.

*I know there are those against ultrasound, but I was grateful for the extra monitoring.

You can follow Suzie on Twitter and don’t forget to check her Blog


Want to share your story? Get in touch


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: INDIA

Having baby abroad indiaThis week I talk nmaha who is Indian but grew up in Dubai and had her daughter in India as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the differences and the similarities between having a baby in Dubai vs. India. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you her?

I’m a Chartered Accountant and currently run a healthcare business with my husband. Though I’m basically from India, I spent the first 24 years of my life in the Middle-East (Dubai) and still consider it my home. I have one daughter (she turned three in April this year) who I had in India.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

Technically, India isn’t abroad for me, however, all the birth stories I could relate to were based in the Gulf. My mom had my brother there, 20 odd years back, and all my friends (the ones who had children at that point) had delivered their babies there as well.

I had initially planned to have the baby in Dubai, however, the logistics of having my husband there were too many and we finally opted for India as the more viable option.

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

Well, the one glaring benefit was the focus on a natural birth. Of all the stories I had heard, the common factor seemed to be that any delay in a delivery in the Middle-East resulted in an induction at a minimum or a C-section. They didn’t give the natural route too much off a chance. (I did end up having to be induced, but that was after two days of no progress.)

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Well, back in Dubai most working women actually work till their delivery date. Expecting mothers also drive themselves around till they need to go to the hospital. It’s completely acceptable and even encouraged. In India, I was forced to work from home for the last month and a half, even though I refused to completely stop working. (What would I do with all that free time). Plus, I had to stop driving on the day my pregnancy was confirmed! I ended up feeling extremely claustrophobic and a little big smothered.

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

Like I discussed before the approach to pregnancy and parenting is a lot more wholesome in India. It’s an advanced version of the modern attachment parenting style. The doctors are also a whole lot more laid-back and prefer to let nature run it’s course.

I have a diagnosed back problem and on good days suffer from serious back-pain. Anticipating the difficulties of a natural delivery (which I wanted), I pre-warned the doctor that I would need an epidural and my husband even signed on the forms in advance. I was in labour for about 2 days and by the time they got round to putting in the epidural, it was too late to administer it. I had the most excruciating delivery back-pains.

The natural approach to parenting also meant that I wasn’t given much choice about breast-feeding. For seven months I exclusively breastfed my daughter with no supplements, not even water! Though it was great for mother-daughter bonding, I was physically drained by the end of each day. Plus, we followed an on demand feeding schedule that finally left me feeling depressed.

I also co-slept with the baby, which had me up at all hours worried that I would suffocate her, though I loved the extra cuddle time.

On the good side, with all that breast-feeding I lost all my baby weight within 6 weeks of delivery! I also had the benefits of a masseuse who came home everyday and a physio-therapist who helped me strengthen my post-delivery body pretty quickly.

People here expect the father to relax and visit the child at fixed times, rather than playing an active role in childcare. My husband had to jump over hurdles when he wanted to help me out and share some of the responsibility.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Do your research before you make any decisions on pregnancy, birthing or parenting. There are innumerable methods and options out there and every opinion has an alternative, even your doctor’s. Be a 100% comfortable with your choices and don’t let people tell you that the child is primarily the mother’s responsibility. Keeping it natural is great (and I wouldn’t have changed to much), however, there is no ultimate right or wrong way, each child and mother is different.

Follow nmaha’s blog



Want to share your story? Get in touch:


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: AUSTRALIA and UNITED KINGDOM

having a baby in IndiaThis week I talk Mrs B who is Estonian and had first son in Australia and her second in the UK as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the differences and the similarities between Estonia, Australia and the UK. 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 am from Estonia, but at the age of 17 I won a scholarship to study in the States for a year and my expat life started.  Now 18 years later, I have lived in the US, Germany, Australia and since early 2006 in the UK (interestingly, this is the first time I’ve done the math and as a result realised that I have now been away from Estonia for longer than I lived there – time flies!).

I studied languages but have been working in web development for the past 10 years.  At the moment I work 4 days a week in the city while my live-in mother looks after my two sons, my 6-year old who was born in Australia and my 2-year old who was born in the UK.

Why did you have your children abroad?
I had my first son in Australia because I had lived there for 5 years by then, had an Aussie husband, felt very comfortable with the system and travelling to Estonia for the birth was just not an option due to the distance.

My second son was born after we’d been living in London for 4 years.  Knowing what a busy and overcrowded city it is, I did think about travelling to Estonia for more one-on-one attention pre- and post birth, but in the end I decided to stay here to make sure that my husband wouldn’t miss the birth.


having a baby in Australia and UK

Mrs B's sons

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
Compared to Estonia, I’m glad that both countries that I’ve given birth in let me work until 2 weeks before the birth.  In Estonia women go on maternity leave 70-30 days before the due date meaning they HAVE TO stay at home from 36 weeks.  I would have been so bored and anxious sitting at home all that time, I think being busy and active as long as possible is much nicer.

I think that it’s also less stressful to have a baby in the country that you live in, that way you don’t have to travel with a young baby and there’s no stress of having to get a passport quickly to be able to go back “home”, etc.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I consider myself lucky to have had my first child in Australia.  Australians are very much into natural delivery and breastfeeding, and felt that I received a lot of very useful information and guidance throughout my pregnancy.  Once I was in labour, the midwives were exceptionally encouraging and calming.  I sent them both a huge bouquet of flowers afterwards, they made me feel very special.

After the birth they visited my room often to ensure that breastfeeding was going well, offering to help almost at every feeding.  Also, I was very happy that I was able to stay in the hospital for 4 days and that by the time I went home, the feeding was going well.

Once I was at home, I visited the local baby clinic almost every week initially.  It was a great environment to have a bit of one-on-one time with the nurse and get reassurance that everything was alright.

In England the situation was a bit different.  Every step of the way I felt like I was on a conveyor belt, being rushed through every appointment.  Thankfully I was having my second child so I didn’t mind too much because I was already equipped with a lot of information.

However, my second birth didn’t go very well at all. There is no point in blaming the country or the system, perhaps the planets just didn’t align that day.  Even after the long and traumatic birth, the aftercare was minimal.  That could have been because I had had my second one and maybe the opinion was that I didn’t need any support as I’d done it all before.  I really missed being able to stay in the hospital for more than 24 hours, the personal aftercare appointments and the general natural/breastfeeding promoting/baby wearing attitudes of the Aussies.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
As mentioned already, Australia and Estonia are both very breastfeeding friendly.  The UK doesn’t seem to be there yet and it really saddens me when a new mother is not guided enough to establish breastfeeding before she leaves the hospital.

My boys were both born with tongue ties so feeding them was a bit tricky in the beginning.  Thankfully I had been taught a good method in Australia so by the time I got annoyed looks by the UK midwives for holding my second son in the “wrong position” I just told them to bugger off (as nicely as I could a day after giving birth 🙂 )

In regard to the tongue ties, in Estonia they would have probably be snipped at birth, just like they snipped my own when I was born.  Neither in Australia nor in the UK though did they think that was necessary.  I would have preferred for this minor surgery to be performed as soon as possible, I wasn’t keen to wait and see whether they’d have speech problems.  I couldn’t find a willing surgeon to perform these simple snips in neither country though so the boys had their tongues fixed in Estonia during our visits. We waited perhaps a bit too long with the oldest as he did require speech therapy later on.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
If giving birth in Australia, I would recommend going private – it does not cost very much if you have private health insurance (which almost everyone does have over there) and it ensures that you have your own room and can stay for up to 5 days.  I would also recommend going to the antenatal classes, even if you’ve had kids before in other countries – the information they share there about you anatomy and the process of labour was excellent and very useful once in labour.

After birth, definitely visit the baby clinics and the new mother’s groups that are set up in your area.  They are both very nice and reassuring environments to ask questions, get help if needed or just vent.

If giving birth in the UK, I would recommend choosing the opposite – the midwife led programme.  I had chosen the obstetrician led program, simply because it seemed similar to the Australian system, but in the end it meant that the midwives changed very often (too often) during labour and since no one had seen me before I felt that they just rushed through their shift and treated me like a number.

If I ever have another child, I would choose the midwife option to establish a good relationship with the women who are going to help me labour.  Although, I might have to go to a completely new country to give birth altogether in since so far every single member of our family has their very own and different birth country 🙂

Mrs B has blogged at www.crankymonkeys.com/blog since she became a mother, writing about the good and the bad – severe sleep deprivation, “sleep schools” in Australia, sunny Aussie life, moving to the UK, travelling, job hunting, settling into the life of a working mom, missed miscarriage, secondary infertility and post-natal depression and lately more and more positive stuff.


You can also find Mrs B on Twitter


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



Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

This week I talk to singer/songwriter Milja who is Finnish and had her baby daughter in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about having a “platinum baby” in Paris and bitchy nurses. Here is her story:


Milja KaunistoTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her? I’m a Finnish singer-songwriter and pianist, mommy of one magnificent daughter… and not so long ago, a performer in a chic Paris piano-bar located somewhere between the Ritz and the old Opèra. As my 8-month pregnant belly no longer fit behind the bar’s grand piano, and my squeezed lungs became unable to yell ‘Proud Mary’ at 4 A.M. without me passing out on the keys, I gave up my night job and retreated to my horrid apartment.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?
My musician husband and me had started regretting our decision to have our child in Paris when it had occurred to us that our apartment wasn’t suitable for a child, or any human being at that. It wasn’t the mice, or that I got an electric chock every time I touched the stove, or that I had to wear a wool sweater night and day just to keep warm, or even that I had to heat my bathing water in a pot because there was no hot water available. It was that there was, in fact, no running water whatsoever, and that carrying 20-liter water containers twice a day couldn’t be done while pregnant.

I started to long for Finland’s clean, functional houses, almost all equipped with a personal sauna. But returning to Finland was no option. We hadn’t suffered the Parisians for six years, painstakingly building a network necessary for any musician to make a living, just to run back to Finnish schlager-style variety music. So we moved to a great deal more expensive apartment, one with running water… and two weeks later, out came Lydia, now two and half years old. Milja Kaunisto

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Finland is a large country with a small population, meaning that hospitals are scarce and thus full. I had heard less pleasant birthing stories from my Finn-friends – the famed Finnish equality between sexes can also mean no pain killer unless there is a ‘real need’, such as c-section. They just tell you to shut up and push, ‘this is the way our foremothers did it and so should you’. The wimpy person that I am, I was relieved to see that the little public-healthcare clinic that was to be my birthing stall offered a wide variety of pain relief. And they had obstetricians specializing in acupuncture, massages or homeopathy, all included in the public healthcare system!

They had helped me tremendously with my pre-birthing hormonal madness, my elephant ankles and my fiery heartburn, so when my waters broke, I felt confident. The waiting room was full of women of all colors and languages. It was fascinating to see the cultural differences of these women when it came to pain. Some talked vividly in their cell phones all through contractions, some screamed theatrically along with the mother and the mother-in-law by the bedside, some demanded more painkillers in an animated french. As it turned out, my baby didn’t come out but 32 hours later, so I had plenty of time to observe everything around me. But after 30 hours, I went into shock and was being prepared for a c-section with the utmost care. I felt so grateful. My Algerian gynecologist surgeon did such a wonderful job, and just a few minutes later, I saw my little blonde Lydia come out, cool and relaxed, practically yawning. This was the very first platinum blonde Nordic baby the gynecologist and his staff had ever seen, and they couldn’t stop staring at her, all smiles.

Lydia and Milja

Lydia and Milja


Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices? What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I had been given a choice of a joint room or a single room, and since I do not watch TV and hate its sound, I had chosen a single room. As it happened, I was tangled in wired and hoses after the surgery, and could not do a thing without calling for help. Somehow they knew I was a singer, and at night as I pressed the help-button to go to the bathroom, I heard the nurses mumbling in the hallway. ‘Oh, it’s her again.’ ‘Who does she think she is, calling for us all the time?’ ‘Did you know that she’s a singer?’ ‘Oh, that’s why, then! She thinks of herself as a superstar!’ At this point the nurse stomped in and barked: ‘What now?’ In my hormonal state, I started crying, and pointed towards the bathroom. The next day when I had to call for help again, I heard: ‘Oh, come on, not again! Someone call her husband to come and give the diva some applause!’ Do they really think a piano-bar singer is the same as Beyoncé, I thought. But then, I heard these nurses whined about almost every patient – this one smelled, this one snored, this one was too fat. I decided to let the supervisor know about this, and what a change it made! Nothing but smiles and helpfulness after that!

In France, I’ve noticed, standing up for yourself risking a few moments of shame makes everything work. Mummies – defend your ground!

After a week at the clinic, I was let out with my baby. Not long after that, our landlord started busting in our new apartment with his own set of keys! We decided it was time to leave Paris.

We now live in a tiny medieval village in the southern France’s Aveyron. Instead of piano bars and concerts, we have a small music school and a studio, and a house five times the size for half the rent. I would not go back to Paris now that I’ve tasted the delights of the French countryside. The kind people, the fresh produce, the cheap living. And my little daughter ,that will go to a French school next year (that, I’m sure will make another weird chapter to write about) makes it all worth the while.

Milja Kaunisto is a singer-songwriter, mummy of one fantastic daughter, lover of great food, amateur writer and world-saver, traveling woman and part-time nut.

You can follow Milja on Twitter, Wix, My Space and you have to check out her Blog.


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

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

PigletinFrance and Baby PigletThis week I talk to Sharon who is British and had her baby daughter in France as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the importance of family values in France, the challenges of breastfeeding past 3 months (it’s not really “done” in France and following your heart. Here is her story:


Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?
I’m a 30 year old British expat living in the North Isere, France with my French husband, my daughter and my two cats. I moved to France from the UK aged 16 as I was an Ice Dancer and Lyons had the best training facilities in Europe. It was daunting arriving in a foreign country alone so young, especially as I didn’t speak any French. However, I soon picked up the language skills and France became my home.

My daughter was born in Valence, France in April 2011. I was living in Lyon and had planned to give birth in the Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyon as it had an excellent reputation and many of my friends had given birth there. Unfortunately due to my Husband and I moving area and a delay in our house purchase, I was unable to give birth where I had planned and ended up having a very difficult birth and after birth in Valence’s public hospital which left me in bed for a month post partum.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?
I didn’t specifically choose to have my daughter abroad. Living in France happened naturally for me and it seemed logical to have my baby here. My Husband and I had spent a few years in the UK together long before we decided to have children and we had both said at the time that if we do have children one day we would like to raise them in France.

France places much more value on Family Values in my opinion than the UK does. I love how meal times are family affairs here and how frequently families get together and make efforts to stay in touch. My Husband and I are as close to some of his French family members as we are to our friends and we want that for our children as well. I know that parents influence the education of their children but I also believe culture does too and I really respect the French culture for the importance they place on family.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?
Having moved to France at such a young age I consider that I already know some of the benefits as I’d experienced growing up in a foreign country myself. Access to a second language and different cultures for a child is fantastic and part of their life education. Aside from the benefits for my baby I don’t think there was really any benefit to me but that is probably because I had a very difficult birth experience and often when things go wrong you want to be in your own country.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?
Initially, I was quite blasé about the whole thing and felt that the French placed a lot of drama around such a natural experience. Everything in France is very medicalised and I can remember being told off as I hadn’t had any check ups before my 12 week scan. I had opted not to have any early check ups as I had miscarried the year before and had been through a circus of check ups that led to nothing but stress. Some women find the constant check ups re-assuring but I chose to let nature decide what to do and was at peace with my decision but the Drs didn’t understand.
I also chose to be followed solely by a midwife rather than an Obstetrician which is rare in France and my French friends and family thought I was mad. Despite the difficulties I encountered with the birth and after birth (which were largely due to the medical incompetence of the Obstetrician) I am still happy with how I managed my pregnancy and would opt to be followed by a midwife again. I would even consider having a home birth which is quite rare in France.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
Aside from my choice of not wishing to have my pregnancy over medicalised, I haven’t encountered too many differences as yet as my daughter is still very young. A lot of my friends and French family seem surprised that I am still breastfeeding my daughter (she is 3 months old). It seems as if it is automatically assumed that she would be on formula by this age.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?
Thankfully I am fluent in French so I was able to make my wishes understood but even then (especially after the birth whilst I was in dreadful pain) I sometimes wished I could explain how I felt and ask my questions in English, just for re-assurance that I was being understood. If you’re not fluent in the local language I would definitely recommend either finding a Dr that speaks your language or finding someone to help with translation.

Also, go with your heart. Just because something is the “done thing” in the country you’re giving birth in doesn’t mean to say it is the right or best thing for your baby. I do a lot based on instinct and will continue to do this as I have a contented baby so must be doing something right!


Connect with Sharon on Twitter and on facebook also check out her blog for, often hilarious, stories about living in France

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


Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: DUBAI, UAE

Having a baby in Dubai expatIt’s back to the United Arab Emirates this week as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making to hear Catherine’s story about having her son in Dubai.  She talks about feeling nervous about being abroad, the benefits of private healthcare and the differences between Dubai and the UK. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself. Where are your from? How old is your son, and where did you have him?
I’m 32 years old, from the South West of England – a village in Weston-super-Mare. I grew up in Oslo, Norway. My son William is 13 months and baby number two is due in November. Will was born in City Hospital, Dubai, and hopefully our second will be born there as well with the same obstetrician.

Why did you have your son abroad?
We had Will in Dubai as, for the moment, it’s home for us – I’ve lived there for ten years and my husband for six, and we never really considered having him anywhere else. While I’m sure healthcare in the UK is first-rate, my sister had horrendous birth experiences with her first two children and I’ve often read maternity care is an area needing some attention thanks to understaffing and over-stretched resources. We did also feel going back to the UK to have our baby would have been cheating, as neither of us has contributed to the country for some time and we’re no longer eligible for NHS care (and quite rightly so).

As an expectant mother abroad, how did you feel?
I was nervous about having our baby abroad as I knew I wouldn’t have my immediate family to hand straight away, but as it happened Mum was over on holiday when my doctor decided to induce so that was a stroke of luck! I did feel somewhat isolated, though, and distanced even more from my family at a time when I would have liked to have been closer to them, especially since my sister already had two children and was pregnant with her third.

Catherine with Will & her husband

Given that my healthcare in Dubai was private, I was concerned that I might end up undergoing tests or procedures that weren’t strictly necessary purely for money-making purposes, but again my choice of doctor reassured me, as she had worked in the UK for a number of years before relocating to Dubai. I was also very concerned I might be pushed into a C-section (I wish I had been now!) but she was very supportive of my wish for a natural birth. I found that pretty much anyone and everyone had an opinion – something I doubt I’d have encountered in the UK – and they weren’t frightened to share it. I never expected to have to defend my choice of not having an NT scan over the coffee machine in the office! I also found some of the medical professionals (and I use that word lightly) somewhat less than subtle in their manner; the doctor who did our anomaly scan at 20 weeks announced that I must have pregnancy diabetes as ‘baby is fat’. Er, OK.

What do you feel are the benefits of having a child abroad?
As healthcare in Dubai is mainly private, one of the benefits was a lovely modern hospital with private rooms. Superficial, yes, but I’d imagine having to be in a ward with other women after one of the most traumatic experiences of my life would have been a little less than ideal! Another benefit, especially for me, was that my maternity care was entirely the responsibility of an obstetrician, whereas at home I may only have seen someone this senior in case of any problems. I had pre-eclampsia and a difficult delivery thanks to being induced, and I was very reassured to have a specialist taking care of me. Not that the midwives weren’t excellent – they were beyond excellent – but I hadn’t had the easiest of pregnancies and I was grateful for the extra level of care.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?
I’d say to others in our situation, find yourselves as much of a support network as you possibly can. I managed to meet up with a group of mums-to-be all due around the same time and found them invaluable – we were all so supportive of each other, we really did take the place of family when family simply couldn’t be there. We still keep in touch now and two of us are pregnant again. And one more tip; if you do have any doubts about the care you’re receiving, see if you can find out what would happen back at home. Having my sister at home who’d been there and done that, so we could compare, was great for me but I also managed to find information on NHS websites and through other online resources to put my mind at rest.


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