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Expat Exchange - Having a Baby in the UAE
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Having a Baby in the UAE

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: This article explores key aspects of expecting in the UAE, from choosing between public and private hospitals to pain management strategies. Gain insights on selecting the right doctor, and read firsthand accounts from expats who have experienced childbirth in the UAE.

Healthcare in the UAE - Having a Baby in the UAE

For expats and digital nomads living in the UAE, having a baby can be a unique experience that combines high-quality healthcare with a blend of cultural practices. The UAE boasts state-of-the-art medical facilities, a wide array of healthcare professionals, and a supportive environment for expectant mothers. However, navigating the healthcare system, understanding insurance coverage, and choosing the right hospital are crucial steps for expats to ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery experience in the UAE.

Choosing a Doctor

When it comes to finding a doctor or midwife in the UAE, expats have a wealth of options. Many healthcare professionals in the UAE have trained internationally, and there is a high prevalence of English-speaking doctors, making communication easier for English-speaking expats. To find a suitable doctor, expats can seek recommendations from friends, colleagues, or expat communities, or they can consult their health insurance provider for a list of in-network practitioners. It's important to consider the doctor's qualifications, experience, and approach to childbirth to ensure they align with the expectant parents' preferences.

What to Expect for Prenatal Care

Prenatal care in the UAE is comprehensive and closely aligns with international standards. Expectant mothers can expect regular check-ups, ultrasound scans, and blood tests to monitor the health of both mother and baby. Many private healthcare providers offer prenatal classes and support groups to help expats prepare for childbirth and parenting in a new country. The frequency and nature of these appointments may vary depending on the healthcare provider and the individual needs of the pregnancy.

Do Expats Typically Have Private Health Insurance when Having a Baby in the UAE?

Most expats in the UAE opt for private health insurance to cover maternity costs. While some employers provide health insurance that includes maternity coverage, others may require expats to arrange their own. It's crucial to understand the specifics of the insurance policy, including waiting periods for maternity coverage, caps on maternity expenses, and whether prenatal and postnatal care, as well as delivery, are covered. Expats should ensure they have adequate coverage well in advance of becoming pregnant.

Giving Birth at Public vs. Private Hospitals

The experience of having a baby at a private hospital in the UAE tends to be more personalized and luxurious, with private rooms and a higher staff-to-patient ratio. Private hospitals often offer a wider range of options for pain management and delivery methods. Public hospitals, while offering high-quality care, may have more restrictive policies regarding birth plans and pain management options. They are also likely to be busier, which can mean less privacy and more limited one-on-one care. Expats with private insurance typically choose private hospitals for childbirth.

C-Sections in the UAE

Caesarean sections are relatively common in the UAE, with rates higher than the global average. Some of this prevalence can be attributed to the preference of both doctors and patients for planned deliveries, as well as the private healthcare system's responsiveness to patient choice. However, vaginal births are still supported and encouraged, and the choice of delivery method should be discussed with the healthcare provider based on the health and preference of the mother-to-be.

Pain Management During Delivery

In the UAE, a range of pain management options is typically available during delivery, including epidurals, which are commonly used in private hospitals. Other methods, such as nitrous oxide gas, are less common. Some hospitals also offer alternative pain relief methods like birthing pools or massage. The availability of these options can vary greatly between hospitals, so it's important for expectant mothers to discuss pain management preferences with their healthcare provider early on in the pregnancy.

Hospitals with Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Major cities in the UAE, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have hospitals equipped with Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) that provide specialized care for newborns who need extra medical attention. These facilities are staffed with highly trained neonatologists and nurses and are equipped with the latest technology to care for premature babies or those with medical conditions. Expats should verify the availability of NICU services at their chosen hospital, especially if there are known risk factors that may require such care.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global
SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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