The first question you want to ask yourself is “where do I want to have my child and why?” For the average Nigerian, the obvious answers are good medical attention and citizenship.
Next you decide where in the USA you prefer to have your baby. In making this decision, you should consider where you have friends and relatives, your budget and where you would feel comfortable. I opted for Texas because I had a relative there.
Then you should inquire from friends or ‘google’ to find your doctor and hospitals in your preferred destination. It is important to read online reviews on these hospitals and obtain their medical costs before making your final decision.
It is advisable to apply for your visa months before your proposed trip to enable you plan early. As a policy, airlines do not carry pregnant women that have exceeded 36 weeks (this actually depends on how heavy you look as some people may get away with it).
Before you board that airplane, ensure you have printed your doctor’s appointment letter and correspondence between you and your doctor. Your correspondence should include the doctor’s confirmation that your medical bill is not payable upfront but on arrival, otherwise you may need to show evidence of payment or proof of sufficient funds. I suggest you have about USD5,000 to USD7,000, though costs depend largely on where you choose to have your baby, and with proper planning, you can get the quality medical care for less.
There is no law prohibiting foreigners from giving birth in the USA, however, it is important that you prove that you have sufficient funds to settle your medical bills. These costs vary from state to state- New York is way more expensive than Atlanta or Houston or far Alabama.
It is important to note that your doctor’s bill is different from the hospital bill. The doctor charges you for consultancy, prenatal, postnatal and delivery, while the hospital charges you for using their facilities. Vaginal birth is cheaper than Cesarean birth so you should have extra money in case you have a cesarean birth.
The doctors are paid separately, the pediatrician, the anesthesiologist, the lab test, screening and even the midwife. Ensure you ask for every bill so you are not taken by surprise.
I had an amazing experience. The hospital I used had a five star service. They had a menu where I could order whatever I wanted, pleasant nurses at my beck and call, free wifi that kept me busy on social media, a TV and extra bed to accommodate my guest. On my last day, I was given a ceremonial dinner with a bottle of wine to celebrate my birth and I was allowed to bring 3 guests. What an experience!!!
Next thing after birth is to go to the county office where your child was born to get the birth certificate, then you process your baby’s passport. The passport office offers regular and expediting process for people who need to return as soon as possible. A consent form is required from your spouse to obtain the passport and other relevant documents.
Next step is to apply for a Nigerian passport for your baby or apply for a Nigerian visa on your child’s American passport.
Now you are ready to return home, you should receive your baby’s social security number via post. Ensure you keep it safe to avoid theft or illegal use.
Most airlines will not carry you if your baby is less than a week old. Carry all the supplies you need and try to relax. You are in for the experience of a lifetime.
Now you know the procedure for giving birth in the USA. Remember, you too can share your experience here. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.