When looking for options on birthing in Dubai and where to deliver in the city, there are multiple choices. It’s helpful to look at what’s most important to you for your birth and find an option that suits. Below are some ideas of what to consider, where to get further information, and summaries of 3 popular private hospitals. If you have experiences different than below, please share in comments! Thanks!
Quick overview of birthing in Dubai:
- There are private hospitals and public hospitals. No birthing centers or traveling midwifes that will deliver at your home.
- Private hospitals will offer antenatal and labor/delivery packages for those not insured. These need to be read carefully as they do not cover anything ‘extra’ and there could be further charges. Generally they will not provide an itemized bill so buying these and getting insurance reimbursement may not be a possibility. Check with both the hospital and your insurance.
- Public hospitals are known to be cheaper and no-nonsense. They have a reputation to let more natural birthing progress. The patient would need to pay directly and reimburse to insurance. Some also offer packages.
- The delivery is Doctor lead, the midwives or nurses will only deliver if the doctor misses the birth.
- Lots of doctors have outside practices and will have a (or a few) hospitals they are allowed to deliver at. You would see these doctors throughout your pregnancy and go to the hospital for delivery only. Each doctor needs to register with the hospital to be able to deliver there, so generally they have one hospital all of their patients will birth at.
- City wide the cesarean section rate is over 60% (information from other doulas in town)
What to consider:
- Birthing Pool
- Soft lighting
- Amount of people in the room
- Midwife care
- Encouragement for any position
- Access to medicine
- Attitude of birth workers (encouraging drugs or encouraging mother)
- NICU (Latifa and City rumored to be the best)
- Breastfeeding Support
- Given Formula
- Skin-to-skin (allowed time, or all checks in first hour?)
- Delayed cord clamping
- Gentle C-section options (microbism sweep, ability to see birth, delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin)
- Government Hospitals Generally cheaper but must pay directly.
- Private Hospitals Generally more expensive but direct billing with insurance
- Doctor Fees The accounting department at the doctor’s clinic can give estimates for both the doctor fees, and the hospital they use.
- Insurance coverage Check what the coverage is, if they give a cap amount (common) check if that is for antenatal AND delivery or there are two different caps. Also check what is all included; some only cover certain amounts of visits or only 3 ultrasounds. Insurance may not cover additional testing required. All insurances have to follow Dubai Health Authority minimums but sometimes a hospital will require additional tests to give preapproval to insurance to birth there; these tests may not be insured.
- Antenatal Classes Options of Hypnobirthing, Hospital antenatal classes, Cooper Clinic or Health Bay Clinic antenatal classes, breastfeeding classes
- Belief in possibility to birth naturally
- Ability to vaginally deliver breech/VBAC/big babies (if answer is yes, this doctor is pro-natural)
- Use of interventions
- Rate of inductions
- Patience (both for birthing and appointments)
- Rate of cesareans
- Amount of time present at your labor (just called when fully dilated to catch the baby, or supporting throughout?)
References to gather more information
- expatwomen.com, read forum questions and responses
- Open questions on facebook groups for expats
- Ask women from meetups and coffee mornings
- Call different hospitals and practices directly
- Midwifes/doulas in the community
- Maternity ward tours
Summaries of 5 common delivery hospitals
- Al Zahra Hospital
The most pro-natural option. Have birthing pools in all four Labor and Delivery rooms (only one room for a waterbirth, the other rooms are for use during labor). Set a relaxed atmosphere with lamps, birthing tools, music speakers for your own plug in, star projector. Midwife lead. If you purchase a package, you must use one of their 4 doctors. One mother shared her experience with using a Zahra doctor and she had a lack of feeling connected to her doctor because the doctor always seemed too busy as they were dealing with other emergencies each time she visited. However remember it is always an option to change doctors if there is something you are not comfortable with. Also many pro-natural doctors will deliver at Al Zahra.
- American Hospital
Nearly all deliveries use an epidural; this is encouraged. Midwife care. Lactation consultant on the ward, nurses and midwives also help. Patient consent needed for everything done.
- City Hospital
Have breastfeeding class daily for new mothers in the ward. No doula’s allowed. Heard both good and bad about the nursing staff care. South African company. Said to encourage natural birthing however I personally don’t know a single delivery from this hospital that did not have intervention. Now offering water births. Aiming to be only breastfed, consent form needed if baby is to receive formula. Midwife assigned to each birth.
- Medcare Women and Children Hospital
Opened July 2016. More nurses than midwives. Natural birthing seems a bit foreign to the staff, however they do accommodate requests just be sure to be or have a good advocate for yourself, your baby, and your preferences. After care is okay, quick to respond to call button and do not interrupt much.
- Saudi German Hospital
The midwives are very accommodating and have useful suggestions for laboring comfortably. Has a pool for laboring in the water. Becoming another good option for natural birth.