If you have just found out that you are pregnant, but you are also unmarried and living in UAE, then first off, congratulations! However, you are probably at least a little worried about how things are going to work out, which is understandable. I gave birth to my first baby in October 2022 at Kings College Hospital in Dubai, UAE. I was amongst the first unmarried mothers to give birth since the change in law to make it legal to have a baby out of wedlock in the UAE. I was hoping that by now things would have become much more straightforward for unmarried expecting Mothers but having done a quick google search I can see that there is still a lot of misinformation out there so I hope that sharing my experience and some tips to consider will simplify this and be able to help you. I have spoken more about my own experience on Episode 3 of Next of Kin: Parents Podcast.
Before I go on, please keep in mind that the law and associated legal processes change quickly here in Dubai, so do seek independent advice if needed, this is just based upon my own experience of being pregnant in 2022 and the other Mums I have met along the way. Please also note that this law change only applies to non-Muslim expats.
When I first found out I was pregnant I was so worried and unsure whether I could even obtain medical care at all, or if I would be treated poorly or judged. It is important to stress that it is absolutely legal for you to get medical care, long gone are the days where the doctor was under any obligation to report you, and remember that you live in UAE with a plethora of different doctors and clinics from varying backgrounds, shop around if you can to find the doctor who suits you best where you feel comfortable.
If, like me, you simply do not want to get married then there are 2 main considerations for you when pregnant and unmarried in Dubai. The first is financial, relating to health care and insurance, and the second is to do with your relationship and getting a birth certificate.
Unfortunately, a lot of the health insurers have not caught up with the change of law, and still in 2023, I hear that most will not cover maternity and delivery care for unmarried mothers and babies. I would advise you to prioritize finding out whether you are covered first, and if not, you have a few options:
- Take out a maternity care and delivery package with a hospital of your choice. The price will range a lot from hospital to hospital so it is worth doing your research. The downside to this is that the package will not cover any extras. This means that if an emergency arises, you need extra health care or your newborn needs to spend some time in NICU, you could end up with a very large bill.
- Take out health insurance which will cover you, state that you are pregnant and pay the large premium. This will likely cost much more than the hospital packages but you have that peace of mind that emergencies will be covered.
- Pay for your own maternity care here in the UAE and ask for all of your medical notes to take to give birth in your home country.
When it comes to the birth certificate, you can find hospitals which will guide you through the process, you can also pay someone to help sort it, but without a marriage certificate you will need to submit some documents to be approved by a judge, this adds an extra step in the process. The reason I mentioned that you need to consider your relationship when it comes to obtaining the birth certificate is that you will be required to sign documents declaring the parentage. So, if the Father is not willing to do so I would suggest seeking legal advice or giving birth elsewhere. Do not let the word 'judge' here scare you. At no point was I in a court having my case heard, but we did submit the relevant documents to get the judges approval before being able to obtain the birth certificate. For us, this added 2-3 more weeks to the process.
After weighing up your options, if you do decide to get married, and perhaps you want to do so quickly, a simple way to do this is at the Abu Dhabi family courts, it’s super quick, you just apply online and it’s also pretty cheap. I have heard of a lot of couples who have chosen this route to keep things simple, one friend even commented that the waiting room was like a maternity ward on the day that she eloped!
I hope this has helped settle some nerves, but for any pregnant and unmarried Moms who are still anxious, my DMs are always open to you @nextofkin.ae on Instagram.