I’m midway through my second pregnancy and it's decision time: Where exactly am I going to have my baby?
I’m not talking hospital vs. birth center, or super-high-tech medical facilities vs. a venue with low intervention rates. Before I can even consider that, I have to make a very basic decision: in which country will this baby come out?
I live with my husband and daughter in Jakarta, Indonesia. I’ve been in Asia for more than seven years, and my daughter was born in Japan. For my daughter’s birth, I did have to negotiate significant cultural and linguistic barriers (ever tried being coached on your pushing technique in a language you don't understand? Yikes!).
Still, my Japanese birth experience was near perfect. I had an easy natural birth. I labored comfortably in a bright and airy hospital room. I could eat and drink and move around freely. Then, post-delivery, I recovered for five days in a private room more like a five-star hotel than a hospital, eating the most delicious food and being pampered with massages and aromatherapy treatment. It was blissful.
So, I’m open to the idea of having a baby away from home. But Japan is a First World Nation with First World medical standards. Indonesia is not.
Many expat women are more comfortable returning home to deliver, wanting to be in a familiar environment, close to family and friends.
Other women opt to fly to Singapore to birth their babies. There, medical care is absolutely first rate, English is widely spoken and new moms can expect gleaming hospitals, luxury recovery rooms, and ultra attentive staff.
But leaving Jakarta to deliver is not ideal.
I'd have to hop on a plane, swollen, tired and cranky, and travel for 30 hours back to Canada. I’d have to pull my three-year-old out of school, completely disrupting her life. I'd have to leave Indonesia a month before my due date. Then, we’d wait another couple of months to get a passport and visa for our newest little nomad. Three months is a long time for my daughter and me to be away from my husband, who can’t be away from work for that long.
Or, I could go to Singapore, where I’d be just an hour’s flying time from my husband. But still, I'd have to wait out the passport and visa in Singapore. And besides, where would I stay for three months? Who would keep me company through the tired, lonely weeks of newborn-hood?
So maybe I’ll stay here. Some of my expat friends have had babies in Jakarta and they report that the experience is better
than delivering back home. Hospital facilities are modern and clean, they say. You have a little more autonomy over your birth experience. And
you can expect a little extra pampering.
Still, there are questions about delivering a baby in an underdeveloped country. My mind is not made up yet, and the clock is still ticking!
Erica Knecht is a mother, writer, and professional nomad, currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia. When not gallivanting across Asia with her toddler in tow, she writes about the lighter side of tri-cultural parenting on her blog expatriababy.com