UAE’s new mothers lack support, hears Abu Dhabi conference

Support groups for new mums or women who have miscarriages are lacking in the country say mums and experts at Bright Start conference

Hend al Otaiba, director of strategic communications for Abu Dhabi Media, speaks at the opening ceremony of the conference about the media’s responsibility towards children, at the Rotana Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // New mothers are suffering from lack of support and information, experts say.

At the Annual Bright Start Conference on Monday on Women’s and Children’s Health, which focuses on parenting and children’s health issues, they called for more help for new mothers, particularly expatriates who are away from their family support system.

Louise Whyte, a Scottish expatriate and chairwoman of Abu Dhabi Mums, a support group for stay at home families in the emirate, said: “I think for many expectant mothers and parents who are new to Abu Dhabi, there is perhaps a gap in communication.

“People feel that they are not being reached and they are not sure about what to expect or where to go. An event like this is fantastic as it brings them all together.”

Ms Whyte has a three-year-old son, Cameron, and is expecting her second child in a few months. “When I came here my son was one-year-old and I had to search for the information as I didn’t know who to go to or where to go. Information is not readily available and you need to dig further to get it,” she said.

“We have a special needs support group in Abu Dhabi Mums and there isn’t a lot of that here.”

Ms Whyte said many parents come asking for help. They might want to use the group’s breast pump rental service or know where to have a natural birth.

H L attended the conference to promote Footprints in the Sand, a support group in Abu Dhabi for families affected by miscarriage, still birth or ­neonatal death.

She had a miscarriage and lost twin girls in Abu Dhabi five years ago. She said there was no support group she could look to for help at that time.

“When you have lost a baby you want to be with other people who understand you are not alone,” she said.

Dimitri Christakis, chairman of the Bright Start Foundation said the conference aimed “to help parents get answers to the questions they had about their children and themselves”.

Through a survey of 800 women, the organisation narrowed down the topics that women said they wanted to know more about and got experts to talk about them. In each hourly session experts spoke for 20 minutes with 40 minutes dedicated for questions.

“I hope people will go home with practical knowledge and answers to issues they face.”

Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications for Abu Dhabi Media, spoke at the opening ceremony of the conference about the media’s responsibility towards children.

“Our responsibility is not just to children but to their parents,” she said.

“The job of parenthood is described in the notes for this conference, quite rightly, as ‘the world’s most challenging and rewarding job’.

“As a mother myself, I completely agree,” she said.

The conference, which runs at the Beach Rotana Hotel until Wednesday, is organised by the Bright Start Foundation for Maternal and Child Health.