Pregnancy Abroad: Which Country to Give Birth In…?

Planning to start a family, or finding out you’re already pregnant, is a really emotional and confusing time. If you’re living abroad (or a frequent traveler), one of the biggest questions you will have is; “Okay, we’re having a baby….but WHERE are we having this baby?”

I had been living in Belgium (a place I now call home) for about 2 years when we decided we wanted to start a family. While I had always previously assumed I wanted to give birth in Canada, when having a baby became a reality, my way of thinking shifted quite a bit.

Although we had decided to have our baby be born in Belgium, a lot of different things came to mind; for instance, having a family in a country apart from some of your family and friends has some downsides (like your family/friends not being able to be around your new family as much as they/you would like.) But if it’s the choice that’s right for your family – then that’s the choice you should make.

There is no perfect decision…there is only the decision that best suits your family right now.
One of the magical things about traveling the world is that you find love and family all around it, but that also means that you can’t be everywhere with everyone all the time. People you care about are going to miss parts of your life and that sucks, but that baby will be so loved by so many different people all over the world – and that’s incredible.

Deciding where to have your child is a choice that you need to make alone with your partner, but it’s also a decision that affects other people – and that can make things complicated.

NOTE: For the sake of this post, “living abroad” will be used as a term for living in a country (with a permanent/long term visa) other than the place you were born.

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT: 

  • What would be best for your baby?
    • There are so many things to take into consideration; education, costs, social influences…all of those things will influence your future child’s life and maybe one country offers more benefits to your baby than the other.
  • What works best for you and/or your partner?
    • Where do you see your lives in 9 months? What does your life look like in 2 years? If the country you’re currently in is where you see yourself being (even if it’s not “forever”), maybe that’s where you should be giving birth.
  • Does your visa/living situation permit having a child in the country you’re currently residing in?
    • If you’re interested in having a child in the country you’re residing in, I suggest you contact your embassy and ask if there are any special procedures or things you need to do before baby comes.
  • Are you comfortable with how you would be giving birth?
    • Child birth is very different in every country, and the system used in the country you’re currently living in may not be one you’re comfortable with (or it might!)
  • Do you have health insurance to cover child birth in both countries?
    • Something you might not even have thought of at this point is that, if you’ve been out of your “home” country for a longer period of time, the health insurance you had there (or the country’s insurance system) may not even cover you anymore.
      For instance; in our case, the wonderful Canadian health system only allows you to be out of country for 12 months at a time – any longer and your insurance is paused. I would have to be back in Canada for a minimum of 6 months before my insurance could kick back in; meaning a lot of my prenatal appointments would be out-of-pocket.

 

 

HOW TO MAKE THE CHOICE: 

Once you’ve thought about all of these things, and most importantly, spoken about them with your partner; a choice will need to be made. In our case, we discussed having a child for about 6 months before we decided to go for it. During that time, we talked, we slept on it, we thought things through and we came to a decision together.

In the back of my mind, I had always “assumed” that we would have our baby in Canada, even if we were living in Belgium at the time. But, the more we thought and talked about it, the more we realized that not only was it unrealistic (for a bunch of reasons), but it was also not really what we wanted anymore.

Our lives had adapted, and we had built a home for ourselves…our lives were in Belgium. And I couldn’t imagine my baby being welcomed into the world and then being taken anywhere that wasn’t our own home (not to mention flying with a new born would be crazy stressful…)

Sometimes we think about how things might be in the future and then when that time comes, it’s so vastly different (but just as amazing) as our previous plans.

 

HOW TO EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS: 

Once you’ve made the choice, the excitement sets in! BUT, that smile might be wiped from your face when you realize that your family and friends may have some {strong} opinions about your decision. This is a decision that, although you make it alone/with your partner, it affects a lot of different people (in a lot of different ways.)

If you’ve decided to have your baby in a country apart from your family and/or some of your friends, you may get some very mixed reactions to your news. Please don’t be discouraged! People are naturally thinking “I want to see this baby, I want to be there for them, I want to be a part of this because this is going to be amazing!”.

Any reactions to your news that seem unsettling to you, just realize that people are most likely feeling sad that they won’t be as close to this as they planned or wanted. Some may even be a little offended.

There are some things you can do to ensure your family and friends welcome the news and are not offended (but if they are, please don’t take it to heart!)

  • Tell your parents first. Realizing that they won’t be living in the same country as their grandchild can be a really difficult thing for them to understand, and it might take a little while for them to come around.
  • Be very clear about the decision. Although you might welcome people’s opinions (if you do, you’re a goddess…), you have to make people understand that this is what’s happening, and you can’t be talked out of it. There is nothing worse than having people asking “are you sure?” during your first trimester when you’re emotional and hormonal.
  • Understand that your friends might be in different stages of their lives, and they might not react the way you expect. From shock to over the top excitement to “oh, congrats….”, there is just no predicting how your news will sit with people. Don’t be offended if some of your friends don’t “seem as excited” as you think they should be.

If you’ve decided to have your baby in the country you were born, there are still a lot of complications that go with that. Telling your partners parents that THEIR grandchild will be born in a different country (and may even be born with a different nationality) can be a really tough conversation to have. Explaining to your work that you need a much longer maternity leave than expected to give birth in a different country might not go over as well as you hoped.

That time I surprised him with the news and caught it on camera.
That time I surprised him with the news and caught it on camera.

Both choices have positives and negatives to them; but YOU’RE HAVING A BABY! Don’t let this or any other stress ruin what should be the most exciting time in your life.
And in all of this, be sure that the choices you’re making is right for your baby, your partner and yourself. Regardless of where this baby is born, if you’re reading this and attempting to make this decision; your baby is already so loved by people around the world and that’s just incredible.

 

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Travel Pray Love

Canadian travel & immigration blogger.

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