We hear the words “find your tribe” a lot. But what does it actually mean? Sure, you might have more Facebook friends than you can keep up with, but when it comes to the women who will support you through pregnancy, birth and beyond, you might need to make some new connections. But, it’s not as scary as you think. Sometimes it might mean turning up to a coffee morning in search of mummy friends (the ones who will also be awake at 3am), and sometimes it’s a case of asking the experts about things you never thought you’d need. Lactation consultant anyone?
And, while you used to follow wedding bloggers on Instagram, drooling over taffeta and fairy lights, now you’ll need to get on board with the world of mummy bloggers, online boutiques and inspiration for weaning, toddler meals and beyond.
When it comes to support, the UAE has improved greatly over the past five years, with a range of services available from antenatal classes to maternity nurses. While you’ll need to pay for many of these, several companies offer free meet-ups with experts present, which can be a good way of meeting other mums, while getting some advice on a range of topics.
Above all, it’s important that if you’re struggling, whether that’s emotionally, through sleep deprivation or getting your baby’s latch sorted, you reach out for help. Every mother has a tough time in some way, and it’s only through showing vulnerability or admitting that you can’t do everything on your own (spoiler alert: it’s impossible) that you’ll find your tribe.
If you're looking for a midwife and/or health visitor to hold your hand (and baby so you can make a cup of tea) in the comfort of you own home, Amana Baby is a good place to start. For most mothers, home is more convenient, familiar and relaxed so having a fully-qualified baby expert provide the support you need in your safe space, is worth its weight in nappies.
Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi, www.amanahealthcare.com/en/amana-baby (02 610 5999).
You can read all the books but there’s no substitute to having a midwife talking you through everything, from pregnancy to delivery. Private classes are available with several companies, which are more flexible to suit busy schedules, while others may prefer group sessions as a way to meet fellow parents.
This practice on Al Wasl Road is much-loved for its ob/gyn doctors, with Dr Jozsa, Dr Amber and Dr Salma proving very popular. The lovely midwives run terms of four weekly antenatal classes, with around eight couples in each, where you’ll learn about your changing body, what to expect during labour, recovering from the birth and caring for a newborn. There’s also a Well Baby Clinic where you can take the new arrival for check-ups, and they offer a home visit service for when you deliver.
Beloved midwife Cecile De Scally is known as “The Baby Whisperer” and is on speed dial for many UAE mums. She works with Malaak and helps parents prepare for birth and babies through antenatal classes and hynobirthing, then home visits and lactation support.
Times Square Center, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.malaak.me (04 453 8164).
Babies & Beyond
Antenatal classes at Babies & Beyond cover everything from pregnancy nutrition and different types of births, to breastfeeding advice and guidance on baby care. Sessions are advised from 30 weeks, but you can attend workshops from 12 weeks, with tailored information depending on the stage of pregnancy.
Concord Tower, Dubai Media City, www.babiesandbeyond.ae (04 430 8900).
You probably won’t have heard of doulas before getting pregnant, and the UAE is still getting to grips to the concept of a “birth coach”, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a host of experienced women who will be by your side during labour.
They are not medical professionals, but spend time with you towards the end of your pregnancy to understand what you’d like to happen in the labour room, and assist whenever possible.
As with choosing a doctor, finding the right doula for you is essential, and a lot will come down to personality and chemistry — they will be providing emotional (and often physical) support at the birth.
The best place to find your wing-woman is on Love Parenting’s website (www.loveparentinguae.com) where there are information-filled profiles of doulas throughout the UAE. Many doulas also offer other services, such as hypnobirthing, breastfeeding support and baby massage classes.
Or visit Dubai Doulas (www.dubaidoulas.com), you’ll find a plethora of information from UK-qualified midwife and health visitor Elizabeth Bain, who trained to become a certified doula with Nurturing Birth and DONA International. Bain has been offering birth and post-natal services in Dubai for almost ten years. Her website is bursting with useful stories and advice.
In many other parts of the world, once you have your baby you’ll be in “the system” and a midwife or health visitor will come to your home after delivery to check on you and the new arrival. This includes weighing them (thankfully not you), making sure that feeding is on track and talking you through any practical or emotional issues you may have. They may also make sure any stitches are healing well.
In the days after birth you may not feel like leaving the house, so this kind of support is invaluable. There are a number of experts in Dubai that offer it, for a fee, so contact Babies & Beyond (www.babiesandbeyond.ae), HealthBay Clinic and Malaak (www.malaak.me) to find out about the packages available.
Many antenatal classes cover the basics of nappy changing, bathing and breastfeeding, but you might find that you still need some extra assistance once you get back home. Elite Babies & Tots (www.elitebabiesandtots.com) has a range of antenatal servies, while Malaak (www.malaak.me) and Babies & Beyond (www.babiesandbeyond.ae) also have experienced midwives who can visit you at home to help out too. The companies offer nurses and nannies who can look after the baby while you get much needed sleep, work or life admin done as well. Others that offer newborn care include Nightingale (www.nightingaledubai.com), and Emirates Home Nursing
(www.emirateshomenursing.ae). For mums in the capital midwife Sarah Perry at Harley Street Medical Centre provides both antenatal and postnatal care to women and their families in the comfort of their own home (www.hsmc.ae/sarah-perry).
Are your friends are looking for ideas for a gift? A few IOU shifts of overnight help will always be a winner.
Now you’re pregnant, you can join Facebook groups such as Real Mums of Dubai, British Mums Dubai, Abu Dhabi Mums and British Mums Abu Dhabi, which can be goldmines for buying second-hand baby goods, finding nanny and nursery recommendations and getting the gossip.
If you’re not already a member of your community’s Facebook group, then get involved. You might be able to pick up second-hand bits and pieces without having to trek across town, or see if there are any neighbourly mums who want to meet for coffee and a playdate.
There are also a number of UAE-based mummy bloggers worth a follow for inspiration on everything from style to family-friendly cafes; search #UAEMomBloggers on Instagram.
Small & Mighty Babies
This award-winning support group helps families with “babies born a little too soon”. From advice on WhatsApp and hospital visits, to practical tips like where to buy clothes for tiny ones and specialist medical care, then team behind Small & Mighty Babies are all heart, and have created a community of families who have come together in many an hour of need.