Moving abroad is an adventure, but moving abroad while pregnant can be a real rollercoaster! I relocated from the Netherlands to the United States when I was 30 weeks pregnant. Using my background in healthcare, I created a relocation plan that I would like to share with you. Below is my advice for moving abroad to help you and your family prepare if you find yourselves in the same situation! Some research and good planning will help ensure a smooth transition!
Making The Big Decision
My husband and I had always dreamed of moving abroad. Over the years, we had two opportunities to move to Chicago. Neither of those times worked out. So, while happily living in Amsterdam, we decided to stop thinking about moving and expand our family.
Five days after finding out I was pregnant, my husband got an email from his company proposing he move to Chicago! Conclusion: Two dreams came together in one week!
Are We Really Doing This?
When you start an exciting adventure like this, it is important to take certain things into consideration.
– How is the quality of healthcare in your new country?
– Is there a way you can get the same or higher quality of care that you are used to?
– Is there a national healthcare system or do you need health insurance to fund your care? Will you be able to get insurance?
– Do you have any medical conditions or additional concerns with your pregnancy that will mean you need extra or specialized care?
– How many weeks do you have between your move and your due date?
– How comfortable are you with getting out of your comfort zone?
– Whether you’re a full time parent, working, or doing some combination of those things, can you continue your current lifestyle or occupation?
– What is the cost of living in the new country? Will you be able to live comfortably on your budget with a new member in your family?
– Will a relocation company take a lot of work out of your hands or do you have to arrange a lot yourself?
– Is there an expat community of moms in the new location to help you and share their experiences?
As we answered these questions for ourselves, we knew, for example, that healthcare in the United States is excellent. That comforted me. But I also knew that if we wanted to get that excellent healthcare, we needed good health insurance to access it. So that became one of our main goals from the beginning: getting the best health insurance so we would not have unexpected or high costs.
As you gain confidence through your research, you and your family might now be ready to say ‘Yes! Let’s go!’
Preparing For the Big Move
There are several things you can do to start preparing for your new adventure.
Break the big move into small projects
- Find a doctor in your new location.
- Find a hospital in your new location where you will register the birth.
- Seek health insurance if necessary in your new home. Make sure that your coverage begins upon your arrival.
- If you opt for private care, set aside adequate funds to pay for these services.
- Research what is common in the new country concerning prenatal care, birth, prenatal, and postpartum care. Is it similar to what to what you know or significantly different?
- Remember to get special baby items from your home country before you leave. For example, I brought a typical Dutch playpen because I knew I could not buy it in the U.S.
- Decide which date is your last day to leave and stick to that date because some airlines do not let you fly once you are 36 weeks pregnant! Give the relocation company and movers one week before your end date, as projects always get delayed.
If you are able to, share responsibility and divide these small projects between you and your partner.
Communication is key!
Make sure you establish and maintain a clear line of communication about the process with your spouse and with everyone involved in the move. This could include your spouse’s employer, your employer, your families, and your relocation company, if you have one. Communication is key!
Make a backup plan
Focus on plan A: moving abroad, but also work on plan B: staying. Get everything ready for a birth in your home country just in case your plans change. For us, there was not much time between leaving the Netherlands and my due date. I had to be really clear about the last day I could leave. Communicating clearly made it easier for everybody to work toward a particular date. However, I also made sure that everything for the baby was also arranged in the Netherlands. I had a Dutch midwife. I registered for daycare in Amsterdam. I knew which hospital where I would give birth. This made me feel relaxed enough to focus on plan A. I always knew that I could count on plan B if plan A didn’t work out.
Last but not least: organize a big, happy farewell party for all your closest friends and family. It’s difficult for you to leave with a big belly and return with a baby. It’s also hard on them!
Read more in “Giving Birth In A New Country: Preparing For Pregnancy, The Hospital and Months Ahead.”