Jon, a veteran, and his serving wife Isobel have just had twin baby girls while assigned to Cyprus.

Jon says: “On hearing we were posted to Cyprus we planned on having another child, as it fitted well into our career timeline.”

He noted that pre-departure, the crossover from the NHS midwives and getting a scan in preparation for the unit move wasn’t easy, due to Isobel being under the care of the MOD medical system. He stressed that “it was key we got a dating scan to allow us to fly under the RAF regulations and we required a ‘fit to fly form’ signed off by a doctor”.

He was aware of other expectant mums in the unit who had to fly under ‘early mover status’ to start their posting earlier due to these regulations.

Once in Cyprus the couple attended hospital for routine check-ups and scans with antenatal care shared between the SSAFA midwives and the Cypriot obstetrician, as in Cyprus delivery is always handled by the obstetrician and not the midwife.

Whilst there was some frustration due to the need to duplicate UK NHS scans, everything else was going well until Rosie and Stella decided to make an early appearance, arriving 10 weeks early.

Isobel said: “We owe a huge thanks to the speedy actions of the on-call midwife, Zeta, as we were blue lighted to the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on the island.”

After the birth, the family were given the option to fly the premature twins and Isobel back to the UK, but they decided to stay in Cyprus.

Jon said: “We decided we needed to stay for a number of reasons – the excellent quality of care from the NICU, the facilities provided by the Ronald McDonald House Charity as well as the wider 1 RIFLES and Dhekelia Station support. We couldn’t have got through those trying times without them and especially welfare officer Dave Dimmock’s amazing support.” 

Continuity of family life and schooling for their five-year-old son Emlyn – who was looked after by his grandmother while Jon and Isobel stayed in the Ronald McDonald House for nine weeks – was also important.

Stella and Rosie are now going from strength to strength, and at the time of writing have more than tripled their initial weight.

One of Jon’s top tips is: “Think hard about the logistics of family help if you already have young children. Also think hard if your pregnancy is high risk.”

He added: “Families should be under no illusion – giving birth in Cyprus is not the same as the UK. There is obviously a small language barrier, however, all the doctors can speak English and many of the nurses do too!

“In Cyprus patients are treated first and then the treatment is explained if the results are not favourable. They don’t tell you why they are conducting tests or doing a certain treatment, unless you specifically ask, and they don’t necessarily ask permission before starting a treatment.

“A real positive in Cyprus is that there is a Hospital Liaison Team of three on call 24/7 to help at any hospital across the island with any language barriers, form filling and welfare support. They are indispensable!”

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