Having your expat baby in a Chinese hospital

Having your expat baby in a Chinese hospital

Having your expat baby in a Chinese hospital

If you and your partner are living and working in China, starting a family needn’t be a cause for concerns as regards medical facilities.

Nowadays, China is a popular hub for tech-oriented expat professionals, with long-stay options as suitable as in many other expat hubs worldwide. If you and your partner are wanting to stay and develop your business as well as starting a family, there’s no need to worry about heathcare options in pregnancy and the birth itself.

For pregnant mothers, there’s a threefold choice of hospitals in Chinese cities, dependent on your projected spend on the entire procedure from conception to birth. Those with private health insurance, a solid income or savings can select from a good choice of international-standard facilities or go for a local private hospital with a good reputation for treating expats. Public hospitals are also excellent and far cheaper, and the choice has much to do with the level of personal care and luxury you need. In all, the doctors, surgeons, nurses and auxiliary staff are well-trained and competent.

China’s public health service operates within a three tier system and is government-subsidised via social security contributions. Primary care starts at walk-in clinics, continues to regional facilities and can be transferred to the specialist hospitals in China’s major conurbations. These are staffed by top Chinese medical and surgical practitioners, giving the best possible treatment and care. Expats are able to use all levels, but most skip the clinics and go straight to the private facilities or to specialist centres. Private hospitals also offer a more luxurious service for which you’ll pay slightly more.

Pre-natal care begins with a choice of hospital and an initial prenatal check-up, with monthly appointments following until it’s time for fortnightly check-ups. In the final months before the birth, weekly check-ups keep a close eye on both mother and baby, and at 20 weeks you’ll be given a scan and be able to listen to or see your baby’s heartbeat. For the delivery itself, public hospitals offer a delivery room shared with other women, in which men aren’t allowed. If the baby’s father is determined to share the experience with you, private or public hospitals allow this. If a private room is your preference, public hospitals provide VIP rooms and their international and private counterparts offer the same, but at a higher price.

China’s cultural and traditional beliefs about pregnancy and birth are worth studying, as you’ll be affected by them at some stage during your pregnancy and even after the birth. Your first month at home with the baby is referred to as the ‘sitting month’, during which new mothers stay at home and don’t even see friends and family. They’re looked after by a personal nurse, who cooks, clean and shops whilst the new mother rests and feeds her child. In China, breastfeeding is common and is even supported by the government, making it acceptable to breastfeed in public. For common-sense, practical help from expat mums who’ve been there and done that, local ‘mums’ groups’ can be invaluable.

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