Tips for Expectant Parents Traveling to Bangkok

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In February, 2014 guest columnist Whitney Conard gave birth to a son at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. She and her husband lived in Poipet, Cambodia at the time. Whitney has shared her story in our article From Poipet to Bangkok: A Pregnant Expat’s Experience.

Whitney has shared with us the following list of important tips for other parents traveling to Bangkok to give birth. If you have any additional tips, please share them in the comments.
tip for giving birth

Passports & Visas

  • Make sure you have all the documents required by your embassy for citizenship before you leave your home country (or have someone bring them to you). Some of the documents they may require are your marriage certificate, old utility bill, and old passports to prove citizenship and sufficient residency in your home country.
  • Fill out the passport application and make an embassy appointment as soon as possible. Embassies only have a set number of appointments available, and they can fill up quickly. You can try making an appointment near your due date, but keep in mind it takes a minimum of 2-3 days to get the birth certificate and English translation.
  • Fill out as much of the application paperwork as possible before the birth. This will be one less thing to worry about when you’re staying up all night with a newborn.
  • Take passport photos in the mall if you need them quickly. We found a Kodak shop inside Central Mall and took our son’s photos there.
  • Breastfeeding the baby, laying him on someone’s lap on top of a white sheet, and asking the photographer to digitally color the background white are all ways we got successful newborn photos. Print off extra copies – you may not be able to get good ones again!
  • Samitivej Hospital can translate your Thai birth certificate into English for you for a fee, but it takes about week. You will need the translation to apply for the baby’s passport.
  • If you need it sooner than a week, you can take the certificate yourself to a translation office. The US Embassy has a list of translation offices on their website; check your country’s embassy for a similar list. We received the Thai birth certificate two days after our son’s birth. While still in the hospital, we scanned it with our iPhone and emailed it to Bangkok Translation Office & Travels Co., Ltd.  A few hours later, we picked it up from the office for 400 baht.
  • Tourist visas, given on arrival, are good for thirty days. But if you’re delivering in Bangkok, you will probably stay longer than that. If you are outpatient, the Samitivej staff can fill out the paperwork and take you to the immigration office for a 500 baht fee. You will receive an extended medical tourist visa. If you are in-patient, you do not have to go to the immigration office, and the hospital can get it for you.

Tips for giving birth at Samitivej Hospital

  • During one of your prenatal visits, ask the Samitivej staff for a tour of the maternity ward. Dr. Yaowaluk offered us an appointment while we were waiting for blood test results, and a nurse took us to both the labor ward and maternity ward.
  • The maternity ward rooms are very comfortable at Samitivej and include a refrigerator and microwave. The partner’s meals are not included in the room price.
  • If you need other food, a pastry shop, Starbucks, and 7-11 are located in the hospital basement. A smoothie shop is right outside the women’s health center, and an Au Bon Pain is on the ground floor of the hospital.
  • You can also shop for groceries at the Villa Supermarket nearby. When walking out to the main road, turn right, and walk about five minutes until you see the Villa in a row of shops.
  • The Samitivej scheduling staff are very good at arranging appointments with the right doctors for you. Emails are normally answered within 24 hours.

Staying in Bangkok

  • Housing near Samitivej Hospital is expensive, but transportation in the city is easy if you are near a main road. Try Air BnB for more affordable long-term rentals.
  • As budget travelers, we usually took the BTS Skytrain or buses to get to and from the hospital – until we discovered that for two or more people over long distances, taxis are the same price or cheaper.
  • You can also try the GrabTaxi app  to schedule a taxi. You need to schedule two hours or more in advance, and they charge a 25 baht convenience fee.
  • For a list of doulas available around your birth date, contact the Doulas of Bangkok group . They also hold regular birth education classes.
  • Thailand has many places to buy baby gear. But if you’re buying American brands, it’s much cheaper (by 50% or more) to buy it in America (or have someone bring it to you).
  • If you want to see what is available in Bangkok, check out the twice-yearly Thailand Baby & Kids Best Buy Fair . It is the best place to compare prices and hunt for deals. Be warned – it is not for the faint of heart. Thousands of families descend to get some of the best baby and kid gear in the country. The website is in Thai, but you can also look at the Bangkok Post website for the next date.

Photo Credit: Ⅿeagan via Compfight cc

Whitney
Whitney Conard is a tea-drinking, extroverted book nerd and travel junkie. She hails from Kansas City, USA and lives in Poipet, Cambodia with her husband and son. You can find her blogging about faith, family, and life overseas at http://www.journey-mercies.com.

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