Pregnancy in Abu Dhabi

Midwife Caroline Robers talks about the state of Dhabi's maternity care Comments

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Giving birth is a daunting enough experience for new mums, but the fear can be heightened by the fact you’re in a foreign country and you’re not sure about the standards of post and prenatal care. One woman who’s a master in helping worried mothers-to-be (and dads too) is Caroline Roberts, a British midwife with more than 10 years’ experience under her belt. She used to run the Midwife Clinic at Corniche Hospital and has recently set up a website– www.b4baby.me – and started antenatal classes in the city.

How advanced is the health care system for pregnant women in the city?
There are many providers of antenatal care in Abu Dhabi in government hospitals, and many private clinics and obstetricians. Many obstetricians here are fantastic, but it’s knowing who to see or where to go that is the problem. Women generally hear about good doctors and hospitals by word of mouth or posting questions on internet chat forums. Antenatal care, on the whole, is good but the real things that are missing here are pregnancy education and support. There are two hospitals in Abu Dhabi that are providing parent education classes, but if you choose to see an obstetrician in a private facility then there isn’t access to these classes.

Is it better in the UK?
In the UK, there are more support options for pregnancy inclusive of GPs, midwives and government initiative schemes held in local community centres and doulas. After birth, you have a midwife who comes to your house to visit you, and after 10 days you are handed over to health visitors who check on you and the baby, so there is a vast amount of support services.

What can be done to improve it?

The UAE needs more midwives, but then again so does the UK. There’s always a shortage of midwives around the world. Midwives are the experts in normal pregnancy and birth, and it would be lovely to see more babies in the UAE being delivered by a midwife if the pregnancy and birth were low risk. Postnatal care here is also limited, as in the UK you are looked after by both a midwife and then a health visitor. There are no home visits from health professionals over here, although hospitals and clinics run lactation groups for breastfeeding help and advice, and, of course, there are many doctors and paediatricians whom you can go to if you have any problems.

Are there cultural differences?
Culturally, I haven’t seen a difference in what expat women need and what local woman need. I think the big difference is the lack of family or close friend support here for expats. Generally, local ladies have a fantastic support system from family and friends, so they have someone to help them out and to ask for advice, whereas a lot of expat families consist of just themselves and their husbands. From a point of antenatal education, I’ve seen over the past year that husbands of local ladies are becoming more interested in attending education classes with their wives, which is absolutely lovely to see.

What advice would you offer would-be mums in the UAE?
When you find out you are pregnant, talk to as many people as possible to find out about their experiences. Also, educate yourself on pregnancy and birth through classes and books, and, above all, don’t panic! There are plenty of people who have been in the same position as you are now and came through the other side having had a fantastic experience giving birth in the UAE.

And for dads?

The best thing they can do for their wives is to educate themselves so they are aware of what will happen antenatally in labour and postnatally, so they can provide support without being afraid of what is happening. This is as well as running out to the local shop at midnight to get some chocolate when your wife is craving it!
To find out more about Caroline’s classes, email her at caroline@b4baby.me or visit www.b4baby.me

By Hugo Berger
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

User reviews:

Posted by: Mrs Janice Al-Najjar on 07 May ' 12 at 12:07

Having read the article by Caroline printed in your Feb 2011 edition about the lack of support for pregnant women in Abu Dhabi especially after delivery and discharge home I couldn't agree more. I am also a British trained RegisteredNurse/Registered Midwife and I have also worked at the Corniche Hospital. In fact Caroline is a friend of mine. I am happy to say that I am now working as Maternity Nursing Manager for a local healthcare facility and I am in the process of putting together and training a team to provide postnatal community services for women in their homes, to educate, advise and support them in all aspects of baby care and particularly breastfeeding. So there is help on the horizon!

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