More and more brands from the US are now available in the UK, however you may have to really search for the products you want. Pampers and Huggies are widely available at stores such as Boots and Tesco. Formula, Baby Food, and medicines/ointments are often not available in the same brands that are used in the US.
When moving to the UK, you must decide whether to use an NHS doctor or a private doctor. You can see a combination of both, even if you carry private health insurance. See the Medical section for further information.
If you are pregnant when you move over or if you get pregnant while you are here, you have a large number of options regarding the delivery of your baby. First decide if you are going to use an NHS or a private doctor; this will determine where you give birth, unless you are planning for a home delivery.
Many Americans deliver at the following hospitals and there are a large number of women in the club (including the Bumps to Jumps Group) that can give you further information about the individual hospitals, public vs. private, doctor recommendations, and other resources.
Chelsea & Westminster Hospital (both a public and a private wing)
St. Mary’s Hospital (both a public and a private wing)
St. Thomas’ Hospital (public)
The Portland Hospital (private)
Whether you deliver in a public or a private hospital, you will be visited by a Health Visitor either a day or two after you arrive home from the hospital to check on you and your baby and answer any questions you may have. They will likely do a follow-up visit to draw baby’s bloods 9-10 days after the first visit.
When your child is born in the UK, the birth must be registered. The hospital where your baby is delivered will notify the local Registrar with details of the birth. The parents must register the child at the local office within 42 days of the birth (both parents do not need to be present if parents are married). You will obtain the birth certificate at this time.
In order to obtain a US Passport and Social Security Number for your child, you must complete paper applications and make an appointment at the US Embassy. Appointments fill up quickly (especially for summer travel), so book early. Plan on spending 2-4 hours at the Embassy for this appointment. Visit the Embassy’s website for further information.
Also, remember that your child will need a British visa if you plan on leaving and returning to the UK. Visit here for more information. Many companies will help ex-pats get a visa for your child, so enquire with the HR department prior to beginning the tedious visa process on your own.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is a wonderful resource for expectant moms and they also offer a number of Ante-Natal classes around the city. These fill up quickly, so sign up early. www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com
It is more difficult and more expensive to find maternity wear in the UK. Some of the places that have a selection of maternity wear are:
Finding the baby items you want can be challenging as well. Keep in mind that most cribs (called cots in the UK) are a different size than in the US, as is the bedding. A company called Boori (sold at Mothercare and Harrods) is made to the same size specifications as in the US, but remember that you will need to purchase you bedding there or have it made.
London hosts a giant Baby Show at Earl’s Court every October, which is worth the price of admission given the many discounts offered at the event. It is also a great place to learn about various activities offered for children once they become more active. The best places to find baby items in the UK are the following:
Doulas, Nannies & Au Pairs
The UK has a number of resources to help new moms. The Doula UK website can help you to find a doula to assist either during your delivery or afterwards.
The Good Nanny Guide is a book that can help you find the right kind of help for your family.
There are agencies to help you locate someone to help your family, however they typically charge a fee. Talking to other mom’s in the club is perhaps the best way to find someone who is highly referred and available. Many families try to place a nanny or au pair with another family prior to moving away from the UK.
Entry into Independent schools in London can be challenging. Many of the nursery and Preparatory schools require applications (aka registration forms) at birth. Spaces do open at all schools, however, so persistence can pay off if a space is not available when you turn in your application. Secondary schools require examinations and interviews for entry.
The Good Schools Guide is an invaluable resource when beginning the school application process. Education consultants are also available if you decide to seek further assistance in this process.