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Moving to US while pregnant - insane idea?

(38 Posts)
DollyDimpleLdn Sat 13-Nov-10 12:15:13

Hello - new to MN Sorry to be asking for advice straight away, but I wondered if anyone here had had a similar situation. My DH-to-be is a US citizen - he's an academic and has a two-year grant for postdoc work at a US university starting June next year (grant can only be used in the US).

We're both keen to have a kid - I'm 35, so I'm wary of postponing TTC for much longer - but I'm really worried about private health insurance, assuming I was already pg at the time of the move. From what I've read, pregnancy counts as a pre-existing condition? I'd be having to get insurance as an individual as the university doesn't give spouse benefits to postdocs, but as we'd be on one academic income (assuming I wouldn't be working for a while), we couldn't really afford to pay $1000+ a month for private insurance (even if I were eligible anyway).

My question is: would I be insane to start TTC soon (going without insurance just wouldn't be an option)? Or does anyone know of someone who's been in a similar situation and managed to find a way around it?


anonymosity Sat 13-Nov-10 23:10:20

I would just go ahead and plan your family. If worst case scenario you had a complicated situation to deal with medically (nothing suggesting you will so far) then you can travel back to the UK if necessary for the final few months, if the expense is too much.
I know UK medical insurance treats pregnancy as a pre-existing condition unless there's some major issue, but in the US, medical insurance covers your pregnancy needs (depending on the healthcare you get, but most just cover it as you're paying anyway). Good luck, it sounds exciting on all fronts.

Borisismyhousespider Sat 13-Nov-10 23:13:49

Sorry not sure on the insurance issue, but I do know several people who have given birth in lots of countries and all have said they wish they'd never given birth in the US as there is toooooo much medical intervention (i.e. you will lie on that bed and do what we tell you to do) so if you are thinking of TTC I'd strongly consider giving birth in the UK.

DollyDimpleLdn Sun 14-Nov-10 14:41:52

Thanks for the advice It is exciting, but I've definitely heard certain horror stories like the ones you mention, Boris.

Just wondering, though: would flying back for the final few months mean that I would have trouble arranging pre-natal care in the NHS? Would it not be preferable to be attending the same GP/hospital from the beginning of your pregnancy>

SofiaAmes Sun 14-Nov-10 14:53:09

Sorry but my experience is the absolute opposite of what Boris says. I can't think of any place I'd rather give birth than in the usa and any place I'd less like to give birth than in the uk (where they almost killed me and my babies twice).
Having said that, you MUST be concerned about health insurance. You will have great difficulty (if not impossible) in getting an individual plan once you are already pregnant. You should check on what it is that the university gives to post docs. It's possible that they don't give insurance for free, but that you will have the option to pay for spousal insurance. If that's the case, then a pre-existing condition would probably not be an issue. You may be eligible for Medi-Cal if you are low income and do not have many assets. Also you may be eligible for Healthy Families - this coverage varies from state to state, but I'm fairly sure that you would be eligible in California, for example. You mention that you are not actually married to your dh. You must get married and should probably begin your green card application process as it will make your options for work and other things much easier in the usa. In some states you will not even be able to get a drivers license without this.

HollyBollyBooBoo Mon 15-Nov-10 03:47:09

Can't give any advice ref insurance but from a pure stress/emotional pov I moved to Canada with a 3.5 week old and the stress almost gave me a nervous breakdown. Packing up a house in the UK, seeing all family & friends to show off newborn, attending midwife appts, then flying, setting up a new home in a new country etc, was just ridiculous.

So my advice would be to make sure that you are settled in the US before you give birth certainly and probably even before you get pregnant as you don't know what sort of pregnancy you might have (God willing it's v. easy!) but even if you have bad morning sickness then you won't want the hassle of moving abroad.

CarmenSanDiego Mon 15-Nov-10 03:56:56

Don't do it.

I moved to the US while pregnant and couldn't get insurance (I looked into all KINDS of options and could get no coverage whatsoever). I'm in California and didn't qualify for Medi-Cal as you have to have been here for a certain length of time first (a year or so I think).

If you have a cesarean here (and you have a 33%+ chance of doing so here, you will be looking at a hospital bill of about $35,000.

I had a home birth which cost $3000. If I'd had to go into hospital, it would have been a minimum of $15k.

Personally, I wouldn't consider trying for a vaginal birth in an American hospital unless you are prepared for a highly managed, medical birth. The interventions are horrendous imo, even in supposedly progressive hospitals (and I've witnessed this first hand as a doula).

CarmenSanDiego Mon 15-Nov-10 03:59:27

Should add that depending where you are, there are good nurse-midwife led birth centres and a lot of home birth midwives in many areas are extremely experienced. But the hospitals scare the hell out of me.

eandz Mon 15-Nov-10 04:12:49

great idea. please let me off in houston tx, please. (my hometown)

expatinscotland Mon 15-Nov-10 04:38:16

I had all three of mine here, although I'm from the US. Glad I was here, too, because I never had good insurance (and sometimes none), so I'd have been stuffed. That whole health insurance nightmare is why we won't be moving there.

Also, I'd have wound up with c-sections.

At over 35, you'll be considered 'high risk' just because of your age.

elvisgirl Mon 15-Nov-10 04:46:42

In Australia with private health cover there is a 1yr (minimum) wait until obstretics is covered on private health care policies - might be the same in the US? I moved (to Australia) at 3mths pregnant & in hindsight I personally would have preferred to remain at home as having a baby was too much to deal with combined with living in a totally different place. But it can be done of course - shame money has to be such a factor!

sarah293 Mon 15-Nov-10 05:13:40

Message withdrawn

BigChiefOrganiser Mon 15-Nov-10 06:57:12

I'd try to get pregnant asap, stay in the uk to have the baby and then join your DH. Or can you investigate travel insurance options to see if you can get a 12mth policy that covers pregnancy and take that out before you go? (we moved to Canada and had travel insurance to cover us for the first 3mths until we could get the local health care)

MmeBlueberry Mon 15-Nov-10 07:24:46


I think if you are pregnant at the visa medical, you do not have to have anything done that could harm the baby. I know that you don't have to have the chest x-ray if you are pregnant. The same principle will apply to vaccinations (which is basically measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diptheria).

For perspectives on costs, when I had my baby in the USA, it was about $2000 - $1000 to the ob/midwife for antenatal and attendance, and $1000 to the hospital. I did get the kind of birth I wanted, but I had to fight for it, despite already having had many children in the UK.

There are costs beyond the actual pregnancy. Once your baby is born, there are many paediatrician visits.

There are many options for insurance and you should investigate if you can get a temporary plan to suit your circumstances. For example, you can have a catastrophic-only plan meaning they will pay the massive hospital bills that make people bankrupt, but pay for all routine and minor care yourself.

CarmenSanDiego Mon 15-Nov-10 08:29:18

No, I had to have the vax while pregnant but they will delay the TB x-ray.

Thankfully I only needed dtap because I got proof that I had antibodies to measles, mumps and rubella but I wished I could have avoided having any.

CarmenSanDiego Mon 15-Nov-10 08:31:25

Honestly, if you don't have money, do NOT move to America while pregnant. It's a massive financial gamble and no insurance company will cover you whilst pregnant for ANY health problems.

Move, then get pregnant or have the baby here first. It will probably take you at least 18 months to get a green card anyway.

sarah293 Mon 15-Nov-10 09:25:54

Message withdrawn

expatinscotland Mon 15-Nov-10 12:19:11

I'd just not do it.

I'm so glad I gave birth here. I'd definitely have had a CS with DD1, which would mean I probably wouldn't have had vaginal births with my other two.

abr1de Mon 15-Nov-10 12:22:48

Most women I know in the UK (me included) have had vaginal births following a cs? Is this not normal in the US?

I was relieved to have a 'natural' (albeit James Herriot-style delivery) the second time, I must admit.

HollyBollyBooBoo Mon 15-Nov-10 13:44:51

I was thinking about this last night and I know this is changing the course of this thread but another bit of advice I would give is to check out the prices of baby stuff in the US compared to the UK.

I didn't do my research and have been totally shocked by the prices of stuff in Canada (I know NOT the same as US and the other ladies on here who do live in US will be able to give better advice), for example the high chair I wanted is twice the price over here. It all depends if you're getting paid in £ or $ as obviously the exchange rate makes a difference. We would have been better off buying everything in UK and shipping it over here - although I admit DHs company paid for all removals.

CarmenSanDiego Mon 15-Nov-10 17:58:05

abr1de, no sadly not normal in the US. There is a move in many US hospitals towards banning VBACs despite overwhelming evidence that they are safe. You can't deliver in a midwife-led unit or birth centre if you have a prior caesarean here and the hospitals which do 'allow' VBACs treat them as high risk with a lot of restrictions (timed labours etc.)

anonymosity Mon 15-Nov-10 21:05:38

HollyBollybooboo - kids stuff - there is an abundance of choice here in the US. You can get things which are immensely expensive but also good quality things which are not. I have found concession stores to be the best source of clothes and have seen totally unused strollers, cots, high chairs and so on in these places which have been checked for safety before resale. They are very inexpensive. In fact I am probably more addicted to concession stores than I am mnet.

anonymosity Mon 15-Nov-10 21:06:07

i mean consignment, not concession. Sleep deprived. sorry

SpeedyGonzalez Mon 15-Nov-10 21:08:42

Re pregnancy and birth care, Dolly, make sure you read Misconceptions by Naomi Wolf, and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. They will greatly inform you about the harsh realities of having babies in the US - so that you know in advance to start searching for alternative healthcare options if you don't like the conventional offerings.

Best of luck with your big life changes! How exciting! grin

mummytime Mon 15-Nov-10 21:12:14

Buggies certainly used to cost a lot more in the US, and not be as well made (none of the posh ones, people raved over my lowish end Mothercare one).

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