As many of you will already know, I recently found out I was pregnant. A happy surprise, it has been a slow but sure realisation that our whole lives are going to change. But the first big realisation was that I was an expat in the USA with no health insurance. These were the steps I took on finding out I was pregnant whilst abroad.
Get a good doctor right away
The first thing I did on finding out I was pregnant (after telling my husband and close family!) was find a good OB. I asked for friends advice and recommendations when choosing a doctor, and discussed my situation with them over the phone. Having professional care is extremely important, as is knowing you have a good doctor you can trust.
See if you can get emergency medical insurance
I was able to schedule an appointment at the local health department who then applied for emergency medical insurance for me. This was a huge help in covering the costs of lab work and other necessary prenatal tests. Regardless if you have travel medical insurance already, the likelihood that the prenatal tests and care are covered is slim. There may well be something like this on offer to you, too. Contact the local health department and find out as soon as possible, or alternatively, your new doctor may well be able to help you answer this question.
Learn about the country’s policies and procedures
For instance, in the UK routine ultrasounds are at week 12 and 20, whereas in the USA the first one is usually as early as week 8. I also needed to have a Zika test, which had to be booked in early on. It was useful to know about what to expect early on, so I could plan around these things.
Talk to your family
Whether you are close with your family or not, it is good to share this news as soon as possible. Having a support network, no matter how near or far, will make you feel a lot calmer about the whole thing, and when you’re not in your familiar surroundings this is even more valuable.
Download a pregnancy app
The easiest way to track your pregnancy and be aware of what’s going on with your body and your baby is by having a pregnancy app. I love What to Expect and Ovia Pregnancy apps. What to Expect has a really informative weekly video, along with daily information, and Ovia has a handy calendar which helps you visually keep track of appointments and milestones.
Buy some prenatal vitamins
I swear by these ones. You take 4 per day, which suited me better as it broke up the amount I was ingesting per time. This helped with morning sickness, as I found the 1 per day one to make me want to gag! But honestly just buy any from a drug store that have the recommended amount of folate (folic acid) and make sure to start taking them asap.
Assess your diet
Remember that different cultures think differently about what is and isn’t okay to eat whilst pregnant. Swot up on what you should and shouldn’t be doing for your growing baby, and adapt your diet early on. For instance, alcohol is a no-no, and most advice tells you to stay away from anything raw, including fish, eggs, and meat. If you eat a lot of fish, great, but be aware of the high mercury content of some popular fish, such as tuna, and steer clear of these too. Also, depending on which country you are in, you will need to check if milk and cheese are pasteurised.
Think about where you want to have your baby
It is important to do this pretty early on, as flying when pregnant is completely fine, but only up to a certain point. I would recommend waiting until the second trimester to do so, when you get your energy back and nausea subsides. Most airlines let you fly with them up until later on in your pregnancy with a doctors note, but this isn’t ideal. Plus, you will want to start nesting pretty soon!
Congrats Mama-to-be 🙂
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