If you’re planning to start or expand your family while overseas, be aware that not all schools view pregnancy in a positive light. In fact, some schools see pregnancy as an irreconcilable disruption to a teacher’s duties and grounds for dismissal. Be extra diligent about doing your homework before deciding on a school–you certainly don’t need any surprises for your family or career when you announce, “We’re pregnant!”
Doing your home work is about more than just your school’s maternity policy. Also consider: Should you have your baby in the host country or return home? Will not knowing the local language be a problem for you and your spouse? What’s the professional level of medical care in your host country? Can you find quality child daycare when you return to work? These, and other questions are topics you’ll want to thoroughly explore.
To start your decision-making process we recommend that you read the ISR Article, Planning a Family Overseas. Written by a veteran international educator who brought two boys into the world while teaching overseas, this article offers sound advice and discusses many of the pros and cons of having a child overseas.
For answers to questions pertaining to your own personal situation, we invite you to visit our Overseas Pregnancy Blog (scroll down) where you can ask specific questions about the maternity leave policy at various schools, the level of medical care available in locations around the world, and any other questions on your mind. If you have started or expanded your family while overseas and wish to share the experience and possibly answer queries from your international colleagues, the ISR Oversees Pregnancy Blog is the place to visit (scroll down).
9 thoughts on “and…Baby Makes 3 – Planning a Family Overseas”
When teaching in Saudi over 15 years ago, schools were required to offer onsite daycare AND time to nurse for female employees. My principal arranged my schedule so I rarely needed coverage, going to the little nursery that offered a quiet room with several rocking chairs with arms to nurse a couple times per day. On the rare occasion my child needed me outside that time, a colleague would show up in my classroom, shoo me out, and take over so I could go provide a comfort nursing. It was a wonderful, supportive environment to teach and to raise children. Our three loved their lives there.
While I do not know if it is the same now, I do know other international schools in country had the same arrangements, and also that things don’t change too fast in KSA, so it’s likely the same today. Life there has gotten stricter, but life on compounds can be very comfortable and ideal for raising young children.
Two specific questions, from someone who does not have children but assumes they will be in the future, possibly at a time overseas. 1) How do you begin the discussion with close friends and family that they may not meet or spend time with a grandchild/niece/godson for months or years if frequent international travel is financially or otherwise too difficult? Embracing new friends and “family” overseas to get help and tips seems easy compared to telling a sibling or parent they won’t know your child intimately. 2) How supportive are overseas employers of employees continuing to breast feed or use breast pumps after the allotted weeks for maternity leave? Are they flexible with breaks and with providing private sanitary space for this (i.e. NOT toilets)?
Every community overseas is different and each one will reflect their values based on maternity leave policies. Some schools will be dismayed and upset that within their limited budget a couple has “gone and gotten pregnant.” It is seen as an inconvenience that must be covered (which is actually true.) Some schools will offer no benefits unless the overseas hires have worked at the school for at least 1 year. Some schools must abide by local laws which grant specific leave benefits. The best schools and administration have policies in place that are flexible and compassionate based on individual situations. When the unthinkable happens overseas, and all of those “great private clinics” fail to deliver a healthy baby and you realize that you really are a long way from home and your support system, the reality is that it comes down to your chosen community so…choose. wisely.
Both of my children were born abroad. One in a great private hospital and one in a not so great private clinic across the street from a trash pile filled with goats. However, my wife had a great relationship with her doctors and felt very comfortable with them. Both schools had maternity policies spelled out in the contract. In my experience administrators without children are far more reluctant to be fully supportive (although that is a generalization). As an administrator, I have been in a remote area where it is very difficult to find substitutes, so the board was hesitant to increase the terms. Basically there are good and bad schools out there. Luckily, our senses have steered us towards the good ones. We are in our 5th international school and love the experience of raising our children abroad. I am new in my school this year and 3 babies have been born to staff since this summer. I look at it as a chance to celebrate and have increased paternity leave to allow staff to be with their new child. The school will continue, but you only have one chance to form those initial bonds.
We had our baby in China in a private, European standard hospital. The quality of care was excellent, we had our own personal nurse-translator, an excellent medical team that included both a doctor and a midwife, and many of their nurses and doctors spoke English, including the pediatrician. We had a private room and our own personal baby nurse, who stayed with us the entire time and helped care for the baby. We stayed four nights.
Highly, highly recommended. The quality of the care was better than anything we would have gotten in the US.
Where in China?
I took my two children overseas for 13 years, and although they were 5 and 10 when we began our adventures, the advantages for excellent medical care abroad are typically great. Within your lifestyle, too, hired help w/ housework chores, shopping, laundry and cooking, and, of course, a devoted nanny makes life SO much nicer for working parents w/ families.
We had lots of friends who gave birth overseas and not one of them had any problems. Keep in mind that hospital care in the US, for example, is far, far from the ultimate in either hands-on loving care and attention you and your baby will receive OR in the quality of emergency procedures if they should become necessary.
Additionally, there is a huge industry for people requiring all kinds of care (heart transplants to knee replacements to cosmetic surgery) around the world, so it’s apparent that care outside of the US is quite often better than that in the U.S. And, the costs of any medical procedure, including delivery of one’s baby, is extraordinarily high priced in the USA. So, why go back?
Even though my kids were not born abroad, they did have the usual accidents and needs (as did we parents) and in every case, no matter which of the 6 countries we lived in, care was above excellent for all of us. Equipment was always top-notch, too.
I think the only thing to really carefully consider is your school’s policy for maternity leave for both parents. Thank goodness we have ISR to share those places that have excellent policies and those that should be avoided.
What schools care about their working parents?
QSI has a great maternity policy–you can take off up to a year (unpaid), and then go back the second year part-time. Everything is unpaid.
Saudi has great medical care, but no midwives or birth centers if you’re wanting natural birth.
Onsite daycare is a dream–some schools have this!
Let me say that QSI does NOT have maternity leave. You cannot even use your sick days. Salary plus end of the year bonus is taken away. This is not made clear when reading the benefits information. This is for single hires. meaning my husband is not a teacher.