Becoming a parent is a life-altering experience, filled with joy, anticipation and a touch of nervousness. For expats in Dubai, this journey comes with a unique set of considerations and procedures. From prenatal care to paperwork to parental leave, here is a comprehensive guide on what to expect when having a baby in this vibrant city.
Prenatal preparation in Dubai
Before the excitement of a new arrival begins, it is essential for future mothers to prioritise their health. Consult a healthcare provider to ensure they are physically and mentally ready for pregnancy. Dubai boasts a range of healthcare facilities, both public and private, that offer comprehensive maternity care. Choose the one that aligns with your preferences and needs.
►Read more about Healthcare in Dubai
Marital bond and legal recognition in Dubai
In Dubai, marriage is the legal foundation for a couple to establish a family. A legal marriage is required for the child to be recognised under UAE law. The husband and wife must be legally married to each other to obtain legal recognition for their child.
Maternity care in Dubai
Throughout an expat's pregnancy, regular prenatal check-ups with an obstetrician/gynaecologist are crucial. Many hospitals offer comprehensive maternity care packages covering tests, ultrasounds and consultations.
There are also several obstetricians/gynaecologists at clinics or outpatient healthcare facilities who conduct antenatal care. They have privileges at specific hospitals, where the delivery takes place. It is wise to review your health insurance policy to ensure coverage for maternity services.
The hospital experience in Dubai
Expectant mothers will be invited to tour their chosen hospitals or those that their gynaecologists have privileges at, to see the delivery suite and maternity unit before the birth. They will be provided with contact details and instructions on what to do when going into labour. Many gynaecologists and families agree to a planned induction of labour or elective Caesarean section, which allows for a pre-planned date of arrival at the hospital.
Once your baby arrives safely and you have received the immediate post-partum care necessary from the gynaecologist and midwife, you will be moved to your private room in the maternity unit. Most insurance maternity packages offer coverage for a two to three nights’ stay.
During this time, you will receive feeding/lactation support and your baby will have their newborn checkup done by a paediatrician. This includes having their hearing and metabolic screenings and receiving their first vaccines. In cases where babies need more specialised care following the birth, most hospitals are equipped with neonatal units and have a specialised team of neonatologists and paediatricians.
Documenting the birth in Dubai
Once your bundle of joy arrives, the hospital will provide a stamped and signed birth notification. Government hospitals automatically issue birth certificates, while parents of babies born in private hospitals must apply for one through the Ministry of Health and Prevention or the relevant health authority in their emirate of residence.
With the birth certificate in hand, you can apply for your baby's passport. UAE nationals can do this through relevant authorities, while expats should approach their respective embassies.
Expat essentials in Dubai
It is essential for expats to have an understanding of visa and residency regulations. Birth certificates must be attested by relevant authorities. Expats will have 120 days to arrange formal documents such as birth certificates, passports, Emirates IDs and visas for their newborns. Expats have a limited window to complete these procedures, with a daily fine incurred if exceeded.
Parental leave allowances in Dubai
Expat employees should check their company's parental leave policy, as well as UAE labour laws. UAE labour law stipulates that female employees are entitled to 60 days of maternity leave – 45 days of fully paid leave, with an additional 15 days of half-paid leave. Some companies offer longer maternity leave on a discretionary basis.
New dads have the right to five working days of paid paternity leave in the UAE. They can use them in any order or at any time in the first six months following the birth of the child. Many people use some of their annual leave entitlement to add to their parental leave.
Post-partum and breastfeeding support in Dubai
New mothers will have a booked follow-up appointment with their paediatric team at the hospital, around a week or so after the delivery. This is to monitor their baby’s growth and the presence of any issues such as feeding concerns or jaundice. During this appointment, the paediatric team will also return the results of the metabolic screening test performed after birth. There are also several private nursing or baby care companies that offer personalised at-home baby nursing care on an hourly or day basis.
In the case of breastfeeding mothers, for 18 months following the date of delivery, a female employee is entitled to two breaks of half an hour each to nurse her child or express milk. Many women decide to combine these two breaks into one hour, which they can take at the beginning, middle or end of their work day.
Paediatric care for your baby in Dubai
After the initial hospital follow-up, you can decide to continue your baby’s paediatric care with the hospital team or register with a preferred paediatrician. You will then be given a suggested schedule of appointments which often coincide with vaccinations as per the recommended National Immunisation Schedule, which matches many of the ones used in other parts of the world.
Having a baby in the UAE is frequently described as a wonderful and happy experience, with highly professional and compassionate care. Good luck on your journey of having a baby in Dubai!
Supplied by Dr Rania Ayat Hawayek, a multilingual Specialist Paediatrician at Circle Care Clinic in Dubai.