5 top tips for pregnant teachers working overseas

A teaching couple who have had a child while working overseas offer advice for those who become pregnant abroad
31st January 2021, 10:00am
Chris and Nataly Barnes


5 top tips for pregnant teachers working overseas

International Schools: Five Top Tips For Pregnant Teachers Working Overseas

Moving overseas as a teacher is exciting and challenging.

Yet one major point that is often left out of the discussion is...what happens if a baby comes along? The four people in our family were born in three different countries - one of these nations doesn't exist any longer - so we have an interest in this issue, as you can imagine.

Advice for teachers who become pregnant while working overseas

It is a wonderful time but also one that comes with lots to think about - so here are five key points to consider if you find yourself in the happy position of expecting a child while you are teaching outside of your passport country:

1. Find the best care

Take advice from local and international colleagues who've been there for a while. Depending on where you are, your choice may range from one to many.

Leading up to the birth, visit a range of healthcare providers and find the right one for you.

Make sure that they have empathy with your concerns - their medical background and training may be different from doctors in your passport country, but they want the same result: the delivery of a healthy baby.

If you know that you are expecting prior to travelling, request copies of your maternity notes - the more information you have to share, the better. The approach to care may be more doctor/consultant-led rather than midwife-led, as is the case in the UK.

2. Find out about maternity and paternity leave

Check the contractual situation with your HR department. If you are on a contract that is structured according to the laws of the country in which you are teaching, then those applying to parental leave should also apply.

For example: here in Malaysia, women have 60 working days' leave post-birth and men have three working days' leave.

Make sure that you obtain all of the relevant paperwork and apply for your leave as promptly as possible - pieces of paper, stamped and signed (often in multiple copies), will be required for some places.

3. Ask the 'elephant in the room' questions

There will be awkward questions to be asked, but it is important that you ask them.

Should you come straight in to hospital after your waters break? Is your partner allowed in the delivery suite? How long do you stay in hospital post-delivery? What should you (and shouldn't you) bring with you to the hospital? How much does it all cost?

We found out that if we had our baby during working hours on a weekday, it would cost considerably less than if they were born outside of office hours at the weekend...anachronisms are plentiful, so ask! 

4. Apply for your child's birth certificate and passport promptly

There will be a set time limit for obtaining a birth certificate, which may range from two weeks to two months.

Therefore, be prompt in obtaining the certificate as, without it, you cannot obtain their passport, which then requires the relevant dependant visa.

Again, this is a documentation-fest: your passports (and visas), your marriage certificate with relevant attestation/apostille...check what you will need before you go to save a wasted journey!

Covid has accelerated the online application process for passports, which is a blessing, especially if you are several hours away from the capital city or a city with a consulate.

5. Get to know 'family-friendly' places in your area

A baby, pushchair and nappies all make you acutely aware of the importance of good quality, clean baby-changing facilities.

This becomes even more important when you are outside your own country. Do some fact-finding before your little one is born - even if you already have a child. For example: in a mall, where are the lifts? How many changing facilities are there?

Are they on each level? Are they accessible for mothers only or also for fathers, bearing in mind the culture? Trust us, this is time well spent once your little one arrives.

Finally, and most importantly...

Enjoy your little one! This time is precious and it only happens once for each child. They make everything all worthwhile.

Chris and Nataly Barnes have lived and worked in Moscow, New York City, the UK and are currently in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. They have two daughters: one born in 2016 in the UK, the other in November 2020 in Malaysia. Follow Chris on Twitter as @MrBarnesTweets

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