My earlier post on death case formalities (click here to read it) evoked such a huge emotional response from the expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, that the logical corollary is a post on - what else - child birth formalities in the kingdom :) Your favorite blog now has the distinction of covering all topics from birth until death!! The subject is quite extensive, so I decided to write it in two or more parts. This is the first part of the series and depending upon your support, I may continue to write more on the subject or just stop.
The first and foremost thing to remember if you are planning to have your child's delivery in Saudi Arabia, is that you must definitely have an insurance. Medical care in the kingdom is extremely expensive and without an insurance, you are really doomed. But before this, you must ask yourself a fundamental question:Do you really want to have the delivery in Saudi or not :-B
Ansering this question is quite difficult and you must most certainly consider all the pros and cons before making this all-important decision. Most bigger cities in Saudi Arabia have hospitals with good facilities. Most of the medicines are imported and all of them carry a mandatory pamphlet mentioning the dosage, indications, contra indications, precautions and side effects. All the medicines in the kingdom are strictly monitored by the Ministry of Health. Some of the best equipments which money can buy, are available in the hospitals. Hospitals are quite clean and patient care by the nurses is also good.
Now for the downside. Until a few years back, delivery for expatriate mothers was free of cost in Government hospitals. However, the rule has changed in recent years with health insurance becoming mandatory. Do note, however, that there are several insurance companies operating in the kingdom. The coverage of each company depends completely on the premium paid by the sponsor. As an example, treatment and child birth in a five-star hospital like Saad hospital in Al Khobar, is not covered by most of the standard insurance companies. Hence, you must be absolutely sure whether maternity treatment is covered by your insurance policy or not.
Next, the sensitive issue about the quality of doctors. Opinion is divided on this. There are excellent doctors, good doctors and not-so-good ones in all the hospitals. It goes without saying that a good gynaecologist is paramount to having a safe delivery. After all, nothing is more important to an individual than personal health and safety. I have seen some really excellent doctors in a few hospitals. I have also seen some doctors who are just terrible! To give a fair assessment, it is impossible to generalize all the doctors or hospitals as either good or bad. The best way is to ask fellow expatriates their experiences about a particular hospital or doctor and then take a decision accordingly.
Child birth and maternity care in Saudi Arabia does not simply stop at the hospital. It has to continue beyond delivery. I have seen fellow-expatriates looking desparately for some domestic help for their wives for a few months after delivery.Of particular concern are those mothers who have undergone caesarian surgeries. Most companies in the kingdom give only upto 3 days leave for the husbands to take care of their wives. If there is no one else to take care of the wife and the new-born, the couple are really in for some trouble. Usually, expatriate husbands prefer to bring their mothers-in-law for assisting their respective wives, but it is not always practically possible to do so. Domestic nurses are in extremely high demand and being a rarity, they charge quite heavily when available.
So how does one decide whether to have the delivery in the kingdom or not? Again, it is quite a difficult decision and has to be made after analyzing the various options, pros and cons, and is purely a personal decision. My own opinion on this is that, if possible try to have the delivery in your own home country. This would save a lot of trouble for both the husband as well as the wife, particularly after the delivery. After all, no place is as good as home! Of course, deliveries for expatriate mothers do happen in the kingdom. There are quite some formalities and paperwork dealing with child birth for expatriates in Saudi Arabia 8- More on this in future posts.
Do let me know your opinion and comments.