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Giving birth in the UAE

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Giving birth is a daunting experience, especially when you find yourself in a foreign country. This page, I hope, will help answer a few questions and prepare you for what's to come, as well as explaining a few of the differences between maternity care in the UK and over here.

If you have had different experiences in different hospitals, then please add to this, as it will help give a clearer picture of the various options available.

A lot of information can be found at Dubai FAQs, with some especially interesting points about what can happen if the parents are not married.


Contents

[edit] ANTENATAL CARE

Unlike in the UK, your antenatal care won't start off with a trip to the GP and a referral to the community midwives based in your local hospital.

In the UAE, everything is private and independant, so your first job is to find a hospital that you like. [see list of hospitals tbc] Visit a few, have a look around, talk to a few people and take home their price list. You've got plenty of time because the first appointment you'll have to go to is at 12 weeks when they do your first scan and a whole host of other routine tests. You will also get to choose your obstetrician, who (in theory) will follow you right the way through your pregnancy, labour and birth.

If you're a first time mum, you may want to think about how you'd like the labour and birth to go before going to the hospitals. Keep it loose and flexible - you never know how things will go on the day - but it'll enable you to decide whether or not the hospital will support your decisions.

A few questions would be:

  • do you follow a woman's birth plan as much as possible if she brings one?
  • do you have a birthing pool and is there a time limit on its use?
  • what will happen if all the delivery rooms are full when I arrive?
  • do you believe in skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after the birth?
  • do you encourage breastfeeding and what kind of support do you offer?
  • are dads allowed in the delivery room/ theatre/ to stay overnight?
  • what is the minimum stay at the hospital after the birth?
  • what pain relief is on offer and do you support a natural birth as much as possible?
  • in the event of complications, do you keep the mother informed? What is your proceedure?
  • what percentage of births are by c-section?
  • ...
  • how much does it cost?!

One thing that I have found, though, is that care here is far more medicalised than in the UK. Doctors seem to love prescribing medication and/or supplements, doing lots of tests and an ultrasound scan at every appointment. You may want to look into what routine tests are deemed necessary in the UK and definitely question and/or refuse any that you think are unneccessary (after having carefully considered the doctor's advice, of course!).

Hospitals seem to like c-sections and rates are high compared to the UK (UK hospitals aim for around 20-30%).

If, for whatever reason, you are not satisfied with the hospitals' responses or "just don't feel happy" with how things are panning out, consider going back "home" to have the baby (with all the pros and cons that entails). It is crucial you feel happy and relaxed about your pregnancy, labour and the birth of your baby.


[edit] ANTENATAL COURSES/CLASSES

Antenatal classes are offered at Australian Family Care, Al Razi Bldg, Dubai Healthcare City, Tel: 04 3694433. The courses are run by Cecille De Scally a superb South African ex-midwife. I entered these classes as a petrified father-to-be and came out an excited father-to-be.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Cecile and she is amazing and her knowledge is impeccable, I am in the process of setting up more breastfeeding support services this year


There are also lots of mother-and-baby groups, generally based in each community and/or loosely to do with an expat group. My advice would be to get out there as soon as possible (even if you don't really feel like socialising and you haven't been able to wash your hair for the last week) and get chatting. There's bound to be someone who's going through the same things as you are.

Check out Expat Woman for details, although sometimes their links are a bit old.


[edit] PRICING AND PAYMENT

The prices I use in this article are those of the MedCare hospital (Oct 2008).

The antenatal care package needs to be paid for at the beginning of the series of visits and costs 4000AED, plus a total of 1500AED extra for what they term "optional" tests - the PAPP-A, the Triple Test (both of which combine with the NT Scan to see if there is a risk of Downs Syndrome) and the Anomaly Scan at 22 weeks (which looks for major physical disability, organ development, cleft pallate, etc...).

Then we have the Delivery Menu! Prices vary depending on which room you have, 1 or 2 days stay and of course if you end up having a normal vaginal delivery, an instrumental delivery or a c-section.

For a normal delivery, prices range from 7500AED (twin room, sharing) to 16500AED ("Royal Suite" with balcony and living room!) For an instrumental, it goes from 9000 to 18500 and a c-section varies from 12500 to 32500.

In addition, there are certain extras, some of which you won't be able to avoid:

  • epidural = 1500AED
  • addtional stay (more than 2 days)
  • new-born package (more on this later) = 1000-1500AED
  • circumcision = 1500AED
  • if an attendant stays in the room
  • twin pregnancy = 1000-2000AED - a bargain: buy one, get one almost free!


[edit] ROUTINE NEWBORN VACCINATIONS

Unlike in the UK, it is considered routine to give a newborn the Engerix (Hep B) and BCG vaccinations when they are a couple of days old. The newborn package mentioned above includes these vaccinations.

It is worth knowing that the BCG is no longer part of the vaccination programme in the UK and is not required for visiting/living in Dubai. However, the UK vaccination programme "vaccinates babies and older people who are most likely to catch the disease, especially in those living in areas with a high rate of TB or whose parents or grandparents were born in a TB high prevalence country" NHS vaccination site.

The same goes for the Hep B vaccination

Again, it is up to you to decide if you want these and/or if you want to follow the UK vaccination programme.


[edit] POSTNATAL CARE

Sadly, there is next to no "care in the community", so if you have a problem post-partum you will have to go to your doctor or the hospital you gave birth at. Unfortunately, this process isn't very helpful if you are suffering from post-natal depression. Read up on potential post-natal issues (Babycentre is a fantastic site for this kind of information) and discuss them with your partner and/or friends so that they can watch out for you. Mother&Baby groups serve as an essential support network too.

If you think your baby needs attention, then go to your doctor or find a suitable paediatrician - forums are a good source of recommendations.


[edit] BREASTFEEDING

Breastfeeding, even in public, is legal and officially encouraged in the UAE (legal reference to be attached as soon as I find it again!). In fact, the Quran encourages breastfeeding the child until they are 2 years old (al-Baqarah 2:233).

Sadly, there are the same debates here that rage in the UK regarding decency and discretion, but there is also the thinking that formula, being "made by doctors" is better for the baby. The World Health Organisation has confirmed that it IS NOT. However, even some health professionals subscribe to the idea that somehow breastmilk cannot be good enough and whilst not actively discouraging breastfeeding, won't necessarily support the newly-breastfeeding mum sufficiently.

Fortunately, there are a number of groups and clinics that will:

  • La Leche League is an international group that offers support and advice.
  • Breastfeeding Q&A is a Dubai based support group to help mothers to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support. They have lactation consultants on hand and currently meet once a month.
  • Breastfeeding Mums in Dubai is an informal group of breastfeeding mums and mums-to-be, meeting for regular coffee-mornings and offering each other tips and support.

Regardless of whether the mum chooses breast or bottle-feeding, she should not be pressured into that decision. If you (the mum) feel that you aren't happy with the way things are turning out, seek support from like-minded people.


[edit] HOSPITALS

MedCare

  • Giving birth at Medcare (tbc)

American Hospital

  • Giving birth at the American Hospital (tbc)

WellCare Hospital

  • Giving birth at the WellCare Hospital (tbc)

Al Wasl Hospital

  • Giving birth at Al Wasl Hospital

Al Wasl is the Government Hospital where the majority of the local women have their babies. It is open to expats too. I chose to have my daughter at the Al Wasl for various reasons. They are the oldest and most well established Maternity Hospital in the UAE. Whilst their bedside manner can be a bit dodgy the actual birth was fantastic and the staff are extremely knowledgeable. The cost for ante natal at the Al Wasl is alot cheaper than all the other private hospitals. I paid 7000 dhs in total, that was for ante natal and a ceaserian section. Before all the private hospitals opened the Al Wasl was the only place you could have your baby so I would say they know what they are talking about.


[edit] REGISTERING THE BIRTH

I (captainflack - PM me if any issues with what I wrote) have rewritten this wiki a bit as I just went through the procedures in Dubai and some of the things were a little different from what was here before. This is correct as of October 2010, but like everything here, might change.

Once your baby is born, the hospital will give you a form to fill in with some of the parents' and baby's details. Some time later, they will give you an official 'Birth Notification' document. Ours was in English and printed off a Dubai government web site. It had some signatures and stamps on it.

The next step is to go to Al Baraha Hospital. If coming from 'new Dubai' just head through the Shindagha tunnel and keep heading straight on, across first roudabout and should see the sign for the hospital turning on the right. The desk is only open from 8am - 1pm, so get there early if you can.

Parking is difficult, but that is because lots of cheap people are cruising around in circles because it is free. Easiest way is to go through the hospital, out the other side and plenty of pay-and-display parking. Make sure you put at least 2 hours on the ticket!

Go to the Dept of Preventative Medicine in the hospital and ask the guy at the desk on the right where to go for birth certificates. He will direct you.

Once there, there are a couple of windows. There is a queuing system, but it is not electronic, and there are no signs telling you to pick up a ticket. But the security guards desk does have a tray with some number cards in, so grab one and sit down.

When called up, you need to present the following (make sure you have these in advance):

1. Marriage cert original - must be attested by the embassy of the country of origin, and then by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Dubai, just along from Burjuman). 2. Original copy of the Birth Notification the hospital gave you. 3. Passports of both parents 4. A photocopy of the photo and visa page of both parents' passports.

They will fill out a form in Arabic and ask you for the name of the baby, which will be transliterated into Arabic. Good to have the English name written down, as my Birth Notification just had 'Baby of [mother]' as the name so I had to write it down for them.

Take a seat, and after 10-15 minutes, they will have the Arabic birth certificate ready. This needs to be signed by a man who lives in an office just round the left hand side of the window you were just at (past the security desk, then right). Office #11 I think it was.

Once you have that signature, follow the signs to 'typing'.

You go across a sandy courtyard, 15 yards, and just ahead is a slightly ramshackle building. Go inside, and then head right and there is a small room at the end with a counter where a guy will type up the English birth certificate for 15 AED. He'll give you a paper to write the baby's name, and parent's names on. Make sure all the details are correct, and pay the man once you have the English cert.

Now you have an Arabic and English birth certificate. You now need to go back to the entrance of the Dept of Preventative Medicine, and go to an office that is just to the right after you walk in the front entrance, behind the security desk and to the left. If you ask at the security desk, the guy will point the way.

Here, another important man signs it, then head back to where you first got the Arabic birth certificate, and take both the certs to the 'Attestation' window. They will stick various stamps on both and charge you 120 AED. This should complete the formalities at Al Baraha and register the birth.

Next you'll need to get the little monster a passport and a residence visa.

{end of captainflack's dubai details}

[edit] =

Here is what you need to do having given birth in a private hospital in Abu Dhabi (I think Government hospitals help with a lot of this).

You will be given a 'Live Birth Notification' form on leaving the hospital - basically you need to take this to the Health Authority (behind Carrefour off Airport Road, next to the gold Abu Dhabi National Hotels building), with both parents' passports and your marriage certificate. You fill in a basic form with the details of the child, parents, location etc and they will provide you with an Arabic certificate for AED50, together with an English version for another AED50.

This seems straightforward, but the complication I found was that when I first went there, they wouldn't accept my UK marriage certificate unless it had been attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, before they will attest it, the British Embassy needs to certify a copy of it for them to attest.

To do this, go to the British Embassy, pay them AED150 to take a photocopy of the certificate, stamp it and sign it (bargain!), then go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (between Carrefour on Airport Road and the new Al Noor Hospital), fight your way to the counter, give them the certified copy and ask for it to be attested, together with AED100, and they will give you a ticket with a number on it, to collect it the next day.

When collected, you can go back to the Health Authority and get the certificate(s).

There was some mention at some point about then having to get the birth certificate(s) attested but I haven't bothered, hopefully I'll be able to get my new baby a passport without having to get this done.

Simple as that!

[edit] GETTING THE BABY'S FIRST PASSPORT

The baby will need its own passport with photo ID (it doesn't need to have its eyes open, but the photo needs to be within certain measurements - talk about daft!). You have 4 months in order to get the baby's residence visa, which obviously requires a passport first, after that, you can get fined 100AED per day. Start the process in good time!

As of some time in 2009, they don't issue passports in the British Embassy or Consulate in the UAE. UK passport applications from the UAE are handled by a central office in Dusseldorf, Germany. This is not great as it appears that you need to courier all your original documents to them. Some confusion over what docs are needed. Form-2c notes (this is the form for an under 16's passport overseas) suggests the parent signing the form must prove relationship with the child, and mentions passport and birth certificate for this purpose. But it has been suggested by Dusseldorf apparently that they don't require parent's passports, although a copy would be useful.

How to Apply Page on the British Consulate website If you're a UK citizen, this is a good starting point on getting a British passport.

Most other countries do issue passports locally, so if time is an issue or you don't fancy sending all your vital docs overseas, and your wife/husband is not British, look into getting your baby another nationality passport first. For example, the Brazilian Embassy in Abu Dhabi seem to be able to issue passports in around a week and it seems most other countries embassies can do similarly.

Although the guidelines state that home-printed photos may not be of good enough quality, this free pasport photo site may be worth a look, as you can upload your own photo and crop/scale it to the approved standard dimensions. Just lay the baby on a white sheet on the floor (or lay the sheet over a bean-bag to prop them up) and take the pic!


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