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Expat life with a newborn

Living abroad and pregnant or planning to start a family? There are lots of ways to help with the common worries pregnant expats face

If you’re living abroad and pregnant or planning a family, you probably have more than your fair share of concerns. What will life with a newborn in a foreign place be like? How will you get the support you need in the earliest days? What will be the same and different compared to home?

Here are a few tips to address some of the most common worries of pregnant expats and new parents. Not new to the parenting world? Check out these life hacks for parents juggling care of a newborn and older kids abroad.

Reach out for information and support

Once you’ve chosen and met with your obstetrician or pediatrician, don’t let distance or inconvenience stop you from communicating regularly with them. Today, many of them share information and answer questions by email, text message or secure online messaging service. A growing number of Aetna International members are benefiting from our expansion of our virtual health service, which lets them speak with a clinician anytime, anywhere by phone, mobile, tablet or web.

You should also check with your health insurer to see if it offers informational materials, educational programmes, pre- and post-natal exercise classes, or other maternity-related benefits. And download apps such as The Bump and Text4Baby, which provide health and safety tips, appointment reminders and helpful information for pregnant women and new parents.

Find your tribe

Being far away from family and friends can make you feel isolated. Support groups for pregnant women or new parents can go a long way toward alleviating that feeling. Check your local community centres, houses of worship, schools or even hospitals to see if they host a support group or can refer you to one you could join.

Some areas even offer classes where you can exercise WITH your baby. These types of groups provide more than just information and activities; they connect you with people you have something in common with and can forge new friendships for you and your growing family.

Get the breastfeeding help you need

Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find a range of cultural norms and community support when it comes to breastfeeding. It’s smart to find out what to expect in the region where you’ll be once baby is born. (Our destination guides can be a good starting point.)

To be prepared for possible nursing challenges, it’s a good idea to ask your obstetrician in advance for a local lactation consultant recommendation. These consultants offer hands-on guidance with how to produce sufficient milk, get your baby to latch on properly and ensure proper nutrition and hydration to make breastfeeding go well. And check your health plan to see what types of discounts or reimbursements might be offered for breast pumps, accessories, lactation consulting and other assistance.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Thanks to social media and celebrity parent oversharing, it might seem as if everyone sails through pregnancy and new parenthood with ease — especially if they have a strong support network close to home. The reality is that’s just not so. Some people might seem to have it all together on the surface but choose not to share their deepest fears or clueless parent moments publicly. If you find yourself constantly worrying or comparing your situation to others’ and coming up short, take heart. With the right support and information, you’ll know that most of what you’re experiencing is normal and manageable.

Mind your mind

Even knowing you’re not alone may not be enough to keep new parent worries at bay. Here are a few simple ways to reduce your stress level in 10 minutes or less. And if you think you might be experiencing the ‘baby blues’, check your risk through this postpartum depression screening tool or ask your doctor for help right away.

Aetna International members have a world of maternity and new parent support tools to keep them and their growing families healthy and strong.

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