Having a baby in a foreign country need not be a daunting experience for an expat; all it takes is a little bit of preparation. Here are a few tips that could make it much easier for you to have a baby in this country.
1. Get your insurance in order
Contrary to what most people believe, this is the first aspect to consider during pregnancy, regardless of the place in which you are planning to have your baby.The expenses for giving birth are a bit higher in Poland compared to some other western countries, since it is normal for the woman to stay in the hospital for three to five days after the baby is born.
If you are insured by a company back home, check whether you are covered for childbirth in a foreign country as well as the extent to which you will be reimbursed.
Public healthcare in Poland usually includes maternity care and childbirth. However, you can only get your expenses reimbursed if you give birth at a public hospital. Many expats in Poland opt for private health insurance, which also covers childbirth at a private medical facility of their choice.
2. Find a good doctor
Pregnant women often choose their gynecologists based on recommendations from family and friends or their family physicians. However, there is no specific right way to find a good doctor. Many just look for specialists online or in the telephone directory, and then choose the one who is closest to them in terms of location.
Getting an appointment with the gynecologist of your choice can be quite a challenge. Women in Poland often take an appointment when they are planning to get pregnant, and then cancel it if it isn’t needed. Don’t be surprised if the receptionist gives you an appointment five months in the future. Look for a doctor who can fit you in immediately. Waiting for a few hours during each visit is normal.
In Poland, the OB/GYN mainly conducts the initial tests and guides you on the prenatal care you need to take. Some of them do not even make it to the hospital for the actual delivery. The doctor that carries out the delivery may not necessarily be the same as the one you visit during your pregnancy.
Several obstetricians and gynecologists practicing in Poland have received their medical degrees from the US or the UK, and are used to dealing with patients of various nationalities. Fortunately, most of the doctors speak fluent English. This doesn’t apply to the rest of the hospital staff though.
3. Choose your hospital & ward
Many women in Poland first decide on which hospital they would like to have their babies in, and then set up an appointment with a doctor who is connected with that facility. This is because they may spend up to five days at that hospital. In case of any complications, the stay is likely to get extended to a week or more.
If you choose to stay at a general ward at a public hospital, you may find yourself sharing a large area with five or six other women. There is almost no privacy in these wards. In addition, none of the public hospitals allow the father to be present during the delivery procedure. Alternately, you could opt for a private room that you share with only one other woman. Of course, this privacy comes at a higher cost.
If you decide to have your baby at a private medical facility, you could choose the kind of room you’d like to stay in. Not all private hospitals allow the father to be present during childbirth.
4. Plan your maternity leave
Many working expats panic when their doctors ask them about going on leave. However, it is a normal practice for Polish women to go on maternity leave during the second half of their pregnancy, even if they are absolutely fine. Talk to your doctor and your employers if you’re planning on taking time off. A few weeks away from work could really help if you are planning to take up Lamaze or prenatal classes.
Do remember that children born in Poland do not automatically get citizenship unless one of the parents is Polish. Foreigners should obtain a temporary residence permit from the Voivodeship Administrative Office immediately after the baby is born.
Have you given birth as an expat? Share your experiences in the comments.