I have never imagined in my whole life that I will get married, get pregnant and gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait— a small oil rich country yet place for mirage diversity. Looking back at our Expat days spent there brought both smiles and fond memories. Kuwait will always be a special place close to our hearts.
Here I wanna share with you 10 Surprising Things About Parenthood in Kuwait that I personally experienced. The content of this post is based from my personal encounters as an Expat living in Kuwait for almost 8 years. Being in Kuwait for work is totally different when you have a family and a young child.
Disclaimer : This post does not promote anything for the purpose of advertisement or whatsoever. My views pointed out here are personal & may not be the same as the other Expats living here or Kuwaitis itself.
Kuwait has a high Total fertility rate compared to other GCC countries , with 2.48 Births per woman and on rank # 80 ( as of 2015 est based on World Factbook CIA )
Pregnancy and Childcare in Kuwait is totally different from the culture that I was raised with. The reality bites of giving birth to my daughter there while working as an OFW with no relatives around to get support really opened my eyes on how is it to become an Expat Mama. You need to be tough.
1.On Pregnancy & Giving Birth Alone …Literally Alone.
The choice for private or public hospital in Kuwait for Prenatal care during Pregnancy & giving birth depends on your personal choices, quality of medical services & of course, the cost. There are plenty of private hospitals around and in every area in Kuwait has Public Hospital. You can go there with a very minimal fee (1KD /stamp ) depending where you are registered as a resident. I am 37 yrs old when I got pregnant with Natalie and has a high risk condition from which I found out on the later part of my pregnancy. I opt for a private one during my Prenatal care, I find it really expensive and yet It was also very comprehensive & helpful for a First-time Mother like me.
There’s no Midwife/ Home Birthing here, Doulas are not a common norm .You can only give birth in hospitals since Kuwait is a Muslim country and has strict laws about getting pregnant outside marriage. You cannot be admitted in hospital if you cannot present a Marriage certificate .If you are not married & got pregnant by chance , then at the hospital you will report you to authorities right on the spot. You will end up in jail and face punishment. Unlike in the Philippines or in Holland, formalities in admission to hospital such as this is not much of an issue . Take note also that there is a strict rule that your spouse cannot see you once you were admitted. Yes, ALONE. Only you and your baby in your utero all throughout the labor to birth phase.
Your Husband can call the hospital to check on your status. It was quite an experience being alone and not having your spouse there on your side. I felt so afraid, at the same time excited. While in the private ones , your spouse has the chance to be with you all the way .
2. On Unbelievable cost of Childbirth.
For Mamas out there, how much does it cost you on the birth of your child? Mine’s only 13 KD!
You can call this cheap but this is impeccably practical. You can invest your money on diapers & childcare later !
I gave birth to my daughter in Kuwait through C-section which only costs us of around 13 KD ( or around 43 USD). YES! Unbelievable right? Only this amount. Considering all the medications I had during the induction of labor this amount is really insane! If i did it in a private hospital , my doctor told me it could come around as 850-1500 KD, maybe more. Giving birth thru C-section in Philippines is so costly that is why Natural birth is still encouraged. Such big difference. In Holland, you need to push and push harder in giving birth at home since natural birth is much preferred unless you need medical intervention.
I had complications giving birth and my daughter is in Transverse position. I was induced for labor for almost 3 days but unfortunately did not progress . But then on the last-minute that both me & my baby was stressed ,her heartbeat dropped & I was rushed to O.R for emergency C-section. I was really amazed how fully equipped and good the government Maternity Hospital here. I have rumors before that it could be a daunting experience ,but as far as my experience , I couldn’t complain for anything . Yeah maybe the pain.
Everything about the induction process is bloody painful. My whole body cried out for so much Pitocin and all those other stuff. It’s just too overwhelmingly painful.
The whole experience has taught me how to be tough ,to listen to my body . The Doctors and staff are knowledgeable, helpful and professional enough in taking care of me. I was lucky enough that the staff assigned to me were really kind, & helpful . I’m glad there were Filipina nurses who attended to me immediately. My daughter was admitted to the Special care unit after she was born and I am very glad how they took care of her. She had a medical care from the Neonatal unit up until 1-year-old to track her progress. By the way, It’s totally free!
My postnatal medical care were also covered in this hospital. You only pay a very minimal fee for the prescriptions and medications provided. I was really impressed and happy.
3.On Baby-Friendly facilities and the LACK of it in Kuwait
Breastfeeding is highly commended by all Hospitals from birth of a child. But Breastfeeding in public is considered offensive. There are only limited areas which has a facility for Breastfeeding mothers and changing rooms. In some large Malls and restaurants, there are abundant changing rooms as well as accessibility to it. Some shops doesn’t even have ramps, totally not Stroller-friendly. Since I had a child, I become aware of this and always opt for a Baby-Friendly facilities such as High chairs, changing tables and play areas . I wear my daughter from 4 months until she was 12 months or so. When she got so heavy then I gave up the sling , besides she likes to walk now ! I couldn’t imagine how I go on without it, It was really amazing.Wearing her on a sling causes lots of stares from many people here , i received many comments about it but I ignore it. It’s not a norm here, but you as the parent should make the right choices for the best of your child & yourself. It’s very rare for Kuwaiti women to wear their child,mainly because most of them has nanny to take care of their little ones.
4. On Harsh Weather Worries , Kuwait is a Sandstorm country.
As an Expat , I am constantly worrying about the weather. If you have read my post – Only In Kuwait , where I noted that the sky turns to different colors within 3 hours .This is a place where sandstorms, dust, & heat & harsh winds is prevalent. During Summer, I was on my wits end on how to deal with the heat and humidity. You can’t take out your child for a stroll if it is 50 deg outside and completely dusty . We often take her out early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sandstorms in Kuwait is another shock that I need to get used to. The sky suddenly turns dark gray and totally hazy because of dust. I had the experience that it totally turns into orange into black . It was a sight! You need to take care when this happens because its unhealthy for you & your child plus it could last for days.
5.On Childcare and Hired Help for Families
A typical Kuwaiti family with 3 children or more has 2 Housemaids ,1 driver and maybe 1 Nanny to focus mainly with the baby. It’s very common to have a hired help to take care of your child. Most children grew up with a Nanny. For Expat parents who are both working full-time , they can put their child on Nursery & Daycare center depending on their choice. Oftentimes, you see a full entourage of babies with their uniformed Nannies in the mall while their Mothers are busy shopping and bumming their asses in the mall drinking coffee or in the salon maybe. Most of the time, if you go on a playgroups, It’s depressing to see only maids with the little ones.
I find it so important to have a network of friends and mothers who have children same age as your child to survive ,especially on hot summers. I am grateful for friends to visit and arrange play dates with my daughter. It is a lifesaver!
6.On lack of Discipline & Public Child Tantrums
I don’t know why but here I often see many child throwing tantrums in Public. In malls, parks , supermarkets, and restaurants.I find it sad to see some children throwing garbage out from their cars, or on the ground as they please. I don’t see much politeness either. Little children seldom say Please or Thank you to waiters or strangers.This is on my personal encounters. But I am always glad whenever I see kids showing good character in public. I remembered that all Filipino children were taught to say “Po” and the Mano po tradition with the ones older than them. This is far by non-existent here.
7.On Easy Access to Beachfront , the beach can be your playground.
Having an access to the beach within 5 minutes from your home is really a treat . I feel lucky that as I open our bedroom window, we have a direct view of the Arabian gulf. This really gives us an opportunity to take our daughter for a spin in her stroller, on having lazy morning walks during weekends and playing in the sand. Kuwait doesn’t have much of beautiful nature to boast, so living near the beach is good if you have kids. I mean it’s healthy . Green lawns are scarce and looking for a convenient playground with lots of greens is like searching for pearls.There are various playgrounds & indoor play areas, you just need to have patience to find them. In every local area,there is a playground so it’s quite easy. But don’t expect much of it.
8.On family Outings during Fridays
Friday is the rest day for all of Kuwait. This is the Ruhetag version of Germany’s Sunday ‘s quiet day. It’s so heartwarming to see the whole family prepping early for a beach trip, picnic in the park or camp in the desert. Kids flocked to playgrounds, during hot summers they mostly stay indoors or spend a day in the Mall. Here, both parents are so involved. I oftentimes saw fathers playing with their kids and totally hands-on. Kuwait boasts of their big Malls. The Avenues is an example of a great family destination especially when its hot outside. It is designed to become a one stop destination for the whole family. It has an astounding beautiful Play areas for kids while you get busy shopping or meeting friends. It has the amazing Kidzania, the Magic planet with its minimalist design, Baroue, & Color Me Mine are among others to keep your child entertained and parents as well. It’s a great place to just relax and bond with your family.
9.On Disturbed bedtime
How crazy it is to see a baby out in the park until midnight? You see children playing in the beachfront at night. Only in here that I see kids riding their bikes in the dark, toddlers playing in the sand until 2 am in the morning enjoying a family midnight picnic. During Ramadan , people spend so much time outside at night. I grew up having our bed times set at 8 pm , except on weekends that we are allowed to watch TV and stay up late. In Kuwait, going out with your kids at 9 pm is normal. I stick to my routine with my daughter to put her to bed on time and especially not to disturb her nap times.
10. On Safety Issues for Children
In Kuwait , I find it relatively safe & crime rate is at par, but as parents we can’t compromise their safety . While in Europe that you can let loose your child in the streets and go home from school by themselves, here its a totally different story. It is not safe to leave your child to play in the streets alone , especially if you live near a highway. There are no sidewalks or safe path walks and cars are speeding up even on residential areas. Besides , There is the garbage problem that you don’t want your child to expose . There is a school just 5 minutes away from our building, it doesn’t even have a pedestrian zone.
As an Expat Mama, I have learned that no matter where you are, Parenthood is a distinct journey to self-discovery. You get to know more of yourself as you go through with it. Becoming a parent is a privilege, and not a right. It is a wonderful blessing. Indeed consider yourself blessed if you have a child on your lap and if you have been on the journey of raising them. If there’s one thing that I learned as I go on this journey of Motherhood, it’s this :
‘You get two big windows of opportunity in your life to do stuff like build castles, play in the dirt, lick pebbles, & just play ; The first is when you are a Child, the second is when you have ONE. ‘
Don’t get too wrapped up to missed it.
Are you an Expat Mama? How is Parenting done in your country or in the place you live at the moment? How are you coping so far ?
Do you find any surprising things about Parenthood? I would love to hear your own story.