Many Nigerians desire to give birth to their babies abroad with the USA being the choice destination. Whether it’s due to the poor health infrastructure leading to high maternal mortality rates in the country or because of the wider opportunities that an American citizenship will give their American born babies, no matter the reason, it is fast becoming a status symbol leading to more families exploring the option.
Want to have your baby abroad too? Here are 5 key things you need to know to aid your decision.
With a tourist/visitors Visa, you are eligible to deliver your child abroad (Yes, you read right. You don’t need a medical visa). Once you have employment/business and family ties in Nigeria showing you intend to return and you also present bank statements proving you can afford to cover all the expenses for your trip, there’s a high possibility that you will be granted a visa.
Gone are the days when you needed to apply for your visa before your pregnancy or wear a kaftan and lie about not being pregnant when you’re 30 weeks gone. Be honest and upfront with the visa officer. Once they certify you have sufficient funds to cover all medical expenses and will not be a ward of the Government, you’ll be granted a visa. More honest people I know got their visas than dishonest people.
Extra tip for those looking at the US: With the way the US consulate has been giving 2 year visas like it’s going out of fashion, I strongly advise that you collect your own before the end of the Obama administration bonanza. Anything after that is at your own risk..I’m just saying .
The price of delivery depends on so many factors inclusive but not limited to:
- City of delivery: The cost of delivery in a metropolitan city like New York is higher than that of a small town like Alabama. Even in the same city, the price of delivery in Queens is much lower than the price of hospitals in Manhattan.
- Type of delivery: Natural birth vs Caesarean section.
While natural birth does not involve surgery and night stay is an average of one day, several add-ons like an epidural can change the cost of delivery by over $2,000.
A C-Section on the other hand entails a surgical procedure and an average admission of 3 days. Making the cost naturally higher.
It’s important to also note that each delivery is different and several tests may need to be conducted before the delivery depending on the level of complications (Even for natural birth).
- Place of delivery: Birth centre, midwifery unit or hospital:
Birth centres cost about a third of the price of delivery at a hospital. The reason why it is so economical is because they are health facilities created in the form of a home-like environment staffed with mid wives and an attached obstetrician. In the case of complications, the mother is transferred to a hospital for treatment .
Several hospitals also have midwifery units that run the same model as birth centres, the only difference is that they are located in the hospital building.
Unlike the birth centres and midwifery units, Hospital delivery is led by Doctors and is best equipped to diagnose and treat women and newborns with serious complications or high risk of developing such complications which explains the costs.
- Non Immigrant “health Insurance” : Some hospitals allow non – immigrants to pay a flat rate of about $10,000 as a form of health insurance so that there are no shocks in the case of unforeseen complications that may require a higher amount of money.
- Cash or Credit: If you’re an average Nigerian, it’s very likely you’ll be paying cash. You can negotiate your fees down wards with cash payments. Some hospitals offer as high as 70% off on cash payments.
The long and short of my epistle on cost is that you need to do a lot of research and determine what’s important to you. Premium quality care, low cost, location etc. This will guide your choices.
A good place to start your research is through pregnancy forums on the internet or your family and friends in the respective countries.
The cost of delivery ranges from as low as $4,000 to as high as $50,000 and in the case of severe complications like premature birth, you can pay as high as $1,000,000 (No, I didn’t mix up my zeros. I’ll help you write it in words so you know I didn’t…One million dollars!).
That non-immigrant insurance doesn’t sound like a bad idea after all now, does it? The importance of your research cannot be over emphasised.
Health facility Registration:
Whether you choose a birthing centre or hospital, once you have your medical history records from your Doctor in Nigeria, registration is seamless even at 32 weeks. However, take into cognisance that you may still need to take several tests and pay for antenatal care appointments .
Words like “detailed”, “thorough”, “compassionate staff”, “excellent service” are always used to describe the delivery process in the UK and US. It’s interesting how total strangers often use the same words to describe the process and staff at their respective health facilities in different countries. The general consensus is that you get bang for your bucks and are sure that you and your baby are in perfectly safe hands.
Post Delivery runs:
So you had a safe delivery, Wooohooo! What next?
Unlike Nigeria, where all hands are on deck to help you when you arrive home from the health facility: Grandmothers, Mothers, Aunts, nannies and even friends you will most likely have to learn the ropes fast on your own and this has been voted as the most daunting experience of having a child abroad. All roses have thorns and we all have to learn to skilfully manoeuvre the thorns right? So learn as much as you can about infant care.
After obtaining the legal documents such as birth certificate passport, and social security, you would also need to obtain a valid Nigerian visa for your baby. (Yes, Americans need a Nigerian visa to travel here).
You might also have to cope with travelling with a newborn/ infant when you are ready to return home.
One last thing (Yes, I know I said 5 things but hey! We all like bonuses right?) to note is that your child cannot be a Nigerian president if you give birth to him/her abroad. According to the constitution, you have to be a citizen of Nigeria by birth to be qualified for election to the office of the President . But hey! What are the odds of him/her being president right?