Being a Pregnant Expat in Saudi Arabia

So, I’ve been asked by a lot of people back in the UK what it was like being pregnant out here and how the whole hospital system worked. I also would have found it very helpful to know others experiences when I was pregnant, so here goes!!!

My best friend back home was pregnant at the same time as me, about 2 months ahead, so it was interesting as we were going along, comparing our experiences!!

The only thing that I found the same was the appointment schedule, though rather than a “booking appointment” at 8 to 12 weeks you actually have your first hospital appointment with the Obstetrician (OB). In Saudi they tend to follow and practice an American approach to medicine, maybe because its private health care (we get it covered by BUPA through my husband’s company).

In Saudi before your first appointment you choose your OB. He or she will see you at all your appointments throughout your pregnancy and deliver your baby at the end. There are no midwives as such in Saudi, just OB’s and nurses. I personally found it very comforting to know that my OB was going to be with me throughout, they know everything about you from the start, any complications or any preferences, and lets face it, there is nobody more qualified to deliver a baby than an OB!!

The other bonus about being private was that we could request a scan whenever we wanted and it was never a problem! I actually suffered from placenta previa to begin with so had to be scanned at every appointment anyway until it moved out of the way!!

The downside of the system was no support when it comes to preparing for labour, the birth and those first few weeks. There are no antenatal classes, no breastfeeding workshops, nothing. I did A LOT of online research, joined online forums such as The Bump, Baby centre and Pregnant Chicken. Did I feel at a disadvantage not having such support? No, not really, if you’ve never had it then you don’t really miss it. In some ways I was quite glad as I was very much in charge of myself and what I wanted to do, with no-one giving me their opinions etc. I chose to read and take the advice that I wanted to in the comfort of my own home, using the internet! A few of my pregnant friends in the UK actually found some antenatal classes quite preachy, and sometimes were scared half to death in the process!! But many also found them very enlightening and helpful, so its swings and roundabouts.

I think it actually helped in the long run, I didn’t have a birth plan, it was never really discussed at the OB appointments and I didn’t force the issue either, knowing full well that 9 times out of 10 it never happens the way you want it to anyway (mine didn’t for the record!!!).

Kingdom Hospital where I chose to have Lucas is very geared up for Western parents to be, they don’t force you to wait in separate rooms, Dave was allowed in all my appointments, the scans, the whole birthing process and at every step of the way afterwards. We were not impeded at all by any of the Arab culture. We had a male OB who was Egyptian I think, most of the OB’s at the hospital are of Middle Eastern descent, both male and female, and all speak just as good English as any doctor with the NHS!  Most have been educated in either the USA or the UK anyway!

Any frustrating moments during the whole pregnancy process? No, not that I can remember, sure I had to wait a while for the odd appointment, but that’s just the same as the UK. We are also very lucky that on our compound we have a medical centre, which is just like a doctor’s surgery in the UK, so I didn’t have to go to hospital for any small niggling worries or issues, I could just pop into the medical centre and see a doctor or nurse there!

Coming next, the birth…….

13 thoughts on “Being a Pregnant Expat in Saudi Arabia

  1. Hi – as a British expat / new Mum in the Netherlands I’ve become completely fascinated by the different ways countries approach pregnancy & childcare. So was very interested to read about the Saudi way. It sounds completely different to the Dutch approach which is 100% midwife lead … but I guess in the end all that matters is that the couple having a baby feel happy and confident! Will enjoy reading more about your experiences … Milly


  2. Glad you enjoyed it Milly! I know there are a lot of pre-conceptions about Saudi (I had many before I moved here!) so wanted to share my very positive experience, as you say, its a totally different approach to the UK, and the Netherlands too by the sounds of it! Ive got plenty more to reflect on (during nap times) so hopefully you’ll also enjoy what’s to come! Sara x


    1. Hi,

      We are moving in September from the uk, I will be five months pregnant and am swinging between being terrified and ok.

      I will need a csection and am very frightened


  3. I have just written a post about my experience of being pregnant in Bangkok, which was very similar to yours, but with a few mishaps along the way! Certainly very different to my friends experiences in the UK! 🙂


  4. Thanks for this post! I’m moving to Riyadh from the US in December/ January at which time I’ll be 20 to 25 weeks pregnant…. really nervous about moving so far into pregnancy! Can you recommend the name of your OBGYN?


    1. Hi Jamie, I am also moving to Riyadh in Dec/Jan and will also be 20-25 weeks. My baby is due April 25th but will be my second. Would you like to get in touch via email or Facebook so we can help each other out? I too am feeling anxious about it all, but have lived in Dubai for 2 years so have a little experience of middle eastern life!! My email is if you would like to get in touch ?? Lucy x


    2. Hi Jamie, I too will be moving to Riyadh in january and will be about 20-25 weeks. My baby is due 25th April. Although I have lived in Dubai for 2 years I am still anxious about giving birth in Saudi. Would you like to get in touch so we can share information? It’s always nice to know someone going through the same. My email is Feel free to send me and email . Lucy xx


  5. Hi, I am also due to move to Riyadh in Dec or Jan and will also be 20-25 weeks. This will be my second baby due on 25th April. Whilst I have lived in Dubai for 2 years I am still anxious about having my baby in Saudi as I
    Believe it to me much stricter.
    Jamie if you would like to get in touch we could share information, it’s always nice to know your not the only one??
    Lucy x


      1. Great!! Look forward to hearing from
        You. Sorry for the 3 replies! My phone was saying they couldn’t be posted !!


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