Deciding where to have your baby is an important personal decision and not one that should be entered into lightly. There are family, financial, medical, and cultural factors to consider. Medical care in Cairo is of a standard that may be acceptable to you for caring for routine pregnancy and birth.
However, your final decision should be based on an informed choice after you have considered both what you want and the local capacity to effectively deal with the worst case scenario. Do not allow your decision to be made through a haze of optimism but base it on a cool, detached assessment of the situation. As parents-to be it is important that you are satisfied and confident that there is no significant extra risk to you or your baby in having the delivery in Egypt rather than in any other location available to you.
Minimum Requirements for a Safe Delivery
The following are suggested minimum requirements for a safe delivery:
A maternity unit, easily accessible at all times of the day or night and at all seasons, with 24-hour cover from an experienced doctor able to carry out forceps and vacuum deliveries and Caesarean sections.
- High standards of hygiene, fully trained midwives and the guaranteed use of sterile instruments.
- The ready availability of safe blood from a trusted donor with the same or a compatible blood group.
- Resuscitation facilities for the newborn and an accessible neonatal intensive care unit.
- The absence of any serious pregnancy-related problems in this or previous pregnancies, including Rhesus (Rh) incompatibility.
- A personality that can cope with the added risks and anxieties of having a delivery away from home and support from the wider family.
- A partner or family member who can give practical support at the time of delivery, including organizing travel arrangements.
- A certainty that you will be ready to launch into the unknown and unexpected adventure of giving birth along with the complications that cross-cultural interaction and language barriers create.
From Traveller’s Good Health Guide by Ted Lankester and Guidelines on Travel During Pregnancy by InterHealth Web: www.interhealth.org.uk
Tips to Help With Decision Making
Some tips to help with your decision making process:
Start early so you can take your time to gather all the information
Write down all the things that you want and expect from your birthing experience (no matter how outrageous) and as you gather information note what is available where.
Consider what type of birth you want
Consider what type of pre-natal classes you want to attend
Consider if you want your extended family close-by
Consider how involved you want your partner to be
Consider how much you expect to care for your infant in the days after the birth
Consider the requirements of your employer
Talk to, and ask questions of, other expatriates about their various experiences (talk to those who stayed in Egypt and those who returned home)
Inspect the maternity units, and the facilities for the newborn in the places you are considering, preferably in the company of a doctor, nurse or midwife
Meet the doctor(s) or midwives likely to carry out the delivery
Talk to other expats who have used the facility you are considering
Ensure your chosen doctor will be able to deliver at the facility you choose and is both reliable and available during the period when you are due
Make a list of questions to ask the doctors/nurses at the facilities (see below for ideas).
Give yourself some space to thoroughly consider and discuss the pros and cons of each option and the potential consequences
Do not allow your decision to be made based on an optimistic hoping-for-the-best attitude
Do allow yourself to change your mind a few times!
Be ready to be flexible and open minded – things do not always go as you plan no matter where you deliver.
Ideas for questions to ask when considering a birthing facility:
o How much English is understood?
o What is provided (baby clothes, PJs, pads, soap, towels, food etc)?
o What is the standard care for mothers/infants during and after delivery?
o Is pain relief available and routinely given? What kinds?
o Will your partner be allowed to stay? Are guests allowed to visit?
o Is there a newborn nursery and how much are mothers are expected to leave their babies there?
o What is done for babies in newborn nursery and by who?
o What is the skill level of the nurses and junior doctors (who often staff the facility after-hours)?
o Are nursery staff competent in infant resuscitation?
o What is the capacity if there is an emergency during the birth both during the day and at night (e.g. able to perform a c-section, complicated delivery, monitor baby in distress, transfer to neonatal intensive care, resuscitate mother and baby at the same time)?
o Where would baby be referred if there were complications?
o Will the staff teach parents about baby care and resuscitation before discharge?