Having a baby is an exciting time and understanding what support you can expect when you’re assigned overseas can help you plan, as every location is different…

AFF Overseas Manager Esther Thomas says: “There are some locations which are classified as ‘non-confinement locations’, where births are not supported. All expectant mums, even with low-risk pregnancies, will be expected to return to the UK, some could be as early as 24 weeks into pregnancy, and possibly not return to the location until several weeks after the birth.

“Mums with complicated pregnancies may be required to return to the UK earlier. So, for both scenarios this may result in several months of separation for family members.

“Where locations are classified as ‘confinement’, you can give birth overseas. While there is no entitlement for travel back to the UK unless there is a clear clinical need to do so, families may elect to return to the UK to give birth at personal cost.”


Another issue to consider is that whilst MOD policy states that, where possible, service personnel and their spouses, civil partners or partners should have access to assisted conception services provided by the NHS in the UK, this is not the case overseas and the level of fertility support can vary. See aff.org.uk: Assisted Conception


Midwife support can also vary. In some locations like Brunei and Cyprus there are contracted SSAFA midwives, whilst families in locations supported by Healix will have a named midwife assigned to them during their pregnancy with an entitlement to receive NHS-equivalent antenatal care.


Options for birth may also be reduced overseas. Even in well supported locations like Cyprus, AFF understands that British Forces Cyprus Medical Group cannot safely support home births.

While families can expect to receive care from English-speaking midwives, obstetricians and doctors, not all nursing/ midwifery staff will speak English, although in larger locations there may be Hospital Liaison Officers who can help with the language barrier.


Following the birth, families can also expect a slightly different level of support, ranging from contracted SSAFA Health Visitors in Brunei and Cyprus, virtual support in locations like Kenya and host nation support in more remote places.

For more info on having a baby in Cyprus, see ssafa.org.uk/media/tywcj0pr/ssafa-cyprus-having-a-baby-2024.pdf.


The eRedbook, an electronic version of the ‘red book’ given to mums when pregnant or on the birth of their baby, is available overseas, so you can access your children’s records wherever you are – sign up at eredbook.org.uk

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