Beijing families can select from a range of hospitals, all offering high quality prenatal, delivery and postnatal care. Options go beyond choosing a natural birth, epidural or a Caesarean section (C-section), and extend to water birthing, hiring a doula and an array of postnatal services. Indeed, the variety of services offered in Beijing hospitals is far from limited. The tricky part lies in choosing one.
Word to the Wise
Families should note that most local Chinese insurance companies do not cover maternity for students and unmarried females. Also, most expat insurance policies require an entire 12 months of payment before maternity coverage kicks in. Read the fine print and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re covered.
If you choose a local Chinese hospital, be prepared for some cultural BJU differences, regardless of ability to communicate in Chinese. In general, patients have to take a number, or guahao, and wait in a few hours just to see a doctor face-to-face. Generally, partners are expected to wait outside during these check-ups and even during the baby’s delivery. Also, bribery is not uncommon in Chinese hospitals. Bribing a nurse or doctor may be the only way to get a bed (which are sometimes reserved for VIPs) or to receive more careful attention.
Another cautionary warning is that local doctors tend to push for a C-section. They’re not always necessary, but for doctors, these operations are faster, easier to administer and come with a higher price tag. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 50 percent of pregnant women in China end up having a C-section.
Having said all this, Chinese hospitals are increasingly popular among foreign families and many expat mothers have had wonderful birthing experiences there. Ultimately, there’s a hospital in Beijing for you.
AmCare Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Conveniently located in Lido, AmCare Women’s and Children’s Hospital is dedicated to providing families “international-standard medical services [in a]Chinese cultural background.” The hospital consists of 36 home-style private suites, three operation rooms and two surgery rooms. Their range of services include obsterics, gynecology, pediatrics, family planning, and psychological consulting. There is also a recreation center and gym. With world-class service at a comparably lower cost, it is a leading choice among expat mothers. Note: At the time of print, this hospital was booked solid until January 2012.
9 Fangyuan Xilu, Chaoyang District (6434 2399) www.amcare.com.cn
English-speaking staff? Doctors do not speak English, but an interpreter can be provided.
Prenatal services: Prenatal care packages available, clinical consultation from 12 weeks, discussion on choices of care, prenatal care by a team of private consultant obstetricians, prenatal education during pregnancy, delivery rehearsal, delivery planning, a moms-to-be class.
Delivery and postnatal services: General anesthesia, epidural, C-section, forceps or vacuum delivery, baby massage, breastfeeding advice, 3-5 nights accommodation (based on the package).
All packages include: All meals for the patient, all delivery routine charges, an extra bed for an overnight guest, all baby care items typically used during the stay, vaccines (including Hepatitis B, BCG for tuberculosis), cord blood screening. Screening for metabolic diseases, if clinically relevant.
Cost: RMB 13,235 for basic prenatal check-up package, RMB 31,320- RMB 35,100 for a natural vaginal delivery package, RMB 43,850-RMB 56,380 for a C-section package. 18 percent off for booking four months in advance.
“I gave birth to lovely Madeleine at Amcare Women’s and Children’s in July 2010. The prenatal care was really good and comforting. My daughter was born the natural way and I’m thankful to the night-shift team for their professionalism – the way they reassured and encouraged me. The only regret I have is that the postnatal following is very poor. They do not train you to bathe, nurse, or feed your baby. The nurse takes your baby and they do not want you to assist during the blood tests. And you have to watch them wash your infant through a window! But, my second one arrives in one month and I did not hesitate to go back to Amcare!”
– Marianne, French, AmCare Women’s and Children’s Hospital
Beijing Mary’s Hospital
Beijing Mary’s Hospital has established business relationships with various international healthcare insurers, making it convenient for insured expats. Services provided include prenatal packages, high-risk pregnancy management, postnatal care, and educational support for first-time mothers. They offer a series of lectures about pregnancy, covering nutrition and exercise, the stages of birth, the Chinese sitting month (坐月子) in a scientific way and baby care. They also have music classes for unborn babies and teach Lamaze breathing techniques to mothers-to-be. Practicing minimally invasive techniques, Mary’s Hospital provides high-quality health service to women and children. Also, a modern pediatric department offers an early educational program, which is open to newborns.
5 Hepingli Beijie, Chaoyang District (6421 6666) www.mary.net.cn
English-speaking staff? No, but they have translators
Prenatal services: Color doppler ultrasound, syphilis serum, Hepatitis C antigen, gynecology (consultation) clinical examination, leucorrhea routine + BV, and more
Delivery services: Doula, vaginal birth and C-section, fetus care
Postnatal services: Postnatal care and rehabilitation
Optional: Private doctor service
Cost: RMB 11,000 for a prenatal package (starting from nine weeks), RMB 25,000 for vaginal birth, RMB 35,000 for C-section
“Our daughter Elisa was born at Mary’s Hospital in February 2011. It was a very easy birth and Elisa is a really healthy baby. I went there for all prenatal check-ups. Our baby was born in a natural way and her father could be with me all the time. During the three days after birth when we stayed in the hospital, the nurses taught me how to breastfeed, bathe her, and give a baby massage. In general, we found the staff in the hospital very helpful and caring, and also professional. There are only two things I can complain about. One, I didn’t get the epidural, but now I’m glad I didn’t, because they said it would slow the birth down. Two, when I told them I only eat chicken and fish, I got a turtle for lunch! [However,] I would recommend the hospital to friends.”
– Libuse Tumova, Czech, Beijing Mary’s Hospital
Beijing Antai Maternity Hospital
Founded in 2003, the Beijing Antai Maternity Hospital is purportedly the first technological hospital in China to meet World Health Organization standards. In addition to an obstetrics and gynecology department, they also have departments in the field of internal medicine, surgery, and urology. Famous for providing water birth services, the hospital has overseen more than 400 water births since 2004. They also have a direct billing relationship with several insurance companies.
Bldg 18, Court 1, Xingheyuan, Jiayuan Road, Fengtai District (6773 5551, 6753 7768) www.antaihospital.com 北京安泰妇产医院, 丰台嘉园路星河城1号院18号楼
English-speaking staff? Some doctors speak English
Prenatal services: Ultrasound, blood test, remote fetal heart monitoring, premature birth prognosis
Delivery services: Water birth, doula, vagina birth, C-section
Postnatal services: Breast care for mothers, baby care
Cost: RMB 6,479 for prenatal package. Delivery prices are dependent on accommodation (bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom). Five-day accommodation: RMB 35,000 for one bedroom, RMB 40,000 for two bedrooms, RMB 45,000 for 3 bedrooms. 12 percent off for booking four months in advance.
Beijing Oriental American-Sino Hospital
The ethos at Beijing Oriental American-Sino Hospital is to “encourage and support normal childbirth with minimum intervention.” Growing in popularity, this hospital is said to support women in their choices, whether it is a natural delivery, epidural upon request or a C-section. There is a private care option, meaning that women can choose an obstetrician for private consultation and maternity care. This chosen obstetrician sees you at each visit throughout your pregnancy and is present at your delivery.
218 Anwai Xiaoguan Beili, Chaoyang District (6496 8888, 6496 5151) www.americansinoobgyn.com
English-speaking staff? Yes
Prenatal services: Booking visit at 12 weeks and discussion on choices of care, prenatal care by a team of private consultant obstetricians, prenatal education during pregnancy
Delivery services: Individual clinical midwifery and obstetrician support, epidural.
Postnatal services: Continued support of mother, baby and family until the baby is 42 days old, postnatal care consultation online, support and assistance with infant feeding and weight gain, advice on initial screening tests for your baby, a postnatal support group.
Cost: RMB 11,000 for basic prenatal check-up package, RMB 20,000 for a more comprehensive one, RMB 28,000 for a natural vaginal delivery package, RMB 45,000 for a C-section package.
“We had our first child by C-section at Beijing Oriental-American Sino Hospital and overall, we were quite pleased with the prenatal, delivery and postnatal care. The prenatal and postnatal care facility was relatively small, resulting in an intimate, doctor’s office feel. The English was satisfactory on the whole, and when English problems did arise, the employees tried their best to accommodate. The rooms were private, comfortable, and had amenities, such as Wi-Fi, a bathroom, shower and a bed for us dads. The nurses were fantastic, as was our OB/GYN. We would gladly recommend this hospital to anyone delivering a baby.”
– Tyler Jensen, Canadian, Beijing Oriental-American Sino Hospital
Beijing United Family Hospital
Beijing United Family Hospital (BJU) makes it their mission “to provide comprehensive, integrated healthcare services in a uniquely warm and caring patient and family service-oriented environment.” An expat favorite for maternity services, BJU offers international-standard medical services, including a Western-style LRDP (labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum) birthing suite and an international team of doctors and midwives. Hospital resources include a neonatal intensive care unit complete with advanced neonatal emergency equipment, neonatologists, a College of American Pathologists (CAP)-accredited Blood Bank and CAP-accredited Laboratory for on-the-spot testing. In addition to medical attention, a mother’s hospital stay includes afternoon tea, candlelight dinners, nail treatments, and other auxiliary services.
2 Jiangtai Lu (in the Lido area), Chaoyang District (5927 7000, 5927 7120 emergency line) www.unitedfamilyhospitals.com 北京和睦家医院,朝阳区将台路2号
English-speaking staff? Yes
Prenatal, delivery and postnatal services: Well-woman care, pregnancy, postpartum, and childbirth classes, international-standard LDRP birthing suite, family-centered birthing services, Vaginal Birth, After Caesarean (VBAC), adjacent operating rooms for Caesarean births, prenatal and postpartum yoga, breastfeeding support services, labor pain management, including a 24-hour anesthetic services
Cost: RMB 12,600 for a prenatal package, RMB 56,000 for vaginal delivery, RMB 101,875 for a C-section delivery.
“Our baby boy was born on his exact due date, September 28, 2011, at Beijing United Family Hospital. Overall, it was a positive experience. The facilities are comfortable and the prenatal care is extremely systematic, so they don’t waste your time. We aimed for an all natural birth and we got that; albeit, we ended up needing a vacuum to get the baby out, as he was in a slightly less than optimal position. Our midwives were very professional and the doctor on duty was great under pressure, even when making some critical decisions. And now, I truly understand what labor really means. It took everything I had to make it happen, and I have my husband Mark, and doula friend Kathi to thank for that.”
– Cathleen Chang, American, Beijing United Family Hospital
Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMC)
Peking Union Medical College Hospital (aka Xiehe) has two locations, one in Dongcheng District and another in Xicheng District. The Dongcheng location has an international ward, but it is limited to 50 deliveries per month. Most of the time they are fully booked, so it’s best to contact them seven to eight months in advance. For a consultation in the “Special Needs Unit” (特殊门诊) where foreigners are admitted,
the hospital requires a registration fee (guahao) of RMB 300. At your initial consultation, once your expected due date is calculated, set a date for delivery and book a bed. Don’t be discouraged if their first answer is no, as they often have additional bed space (reserved for VIPs). While the hospital’s service is up to par, families should not expect Western bedside manners here. When one mother went for her first check-up, the doctor’s first question was, “So, do you want this baby?” Another expat couple called for a first appointment and were denied, because they were not with an embassy.
1) 1 Shuaifuyuan, Dongcheng District (6529 6699) 北京协和医院, 东城区帅府园1号; 2) 41 Damucang Hutong, Xicheng District (6529 5284) 北京协和医院, 西城区大木仓胡同41号 www.pumch.ac.cn, http://english.pumch.cn
English-speaking staff? Yes
Prenatal, delivery and postnatal services: blood testing, ultrasound, C-section
Cost: RMB 60,000 for a prenatal check-up and delivery package (RMB 5,000 less if a C-section is not performed)
“My daughter is a Golden Pig, born in 2008, a high birth-rate year. I chose Peking Medical Union Hospital, as it is the most reputable in China. Also because my mom and other relatives were born there 60 years ago. Given that there were not enough staff members to take care of the large number of expecting mommies, I cannot say I enjoyed the satisfactory treatment there. What did make me feel comfortable was [the fact]that it was equipped with top-tier experienced doctors who bring reassurance – crucial for a first-time mom.”
– Wang Chen, Chinese, Peking Union Medical College Hospital
Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital
Also known as Beijing Maternity Hospital, the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital was established in 1959. Affiliated with Capital Medical University, it is also a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Maternal and Infant Health and Women’s Health. While the hospital has two locations, the below address is the only location where they deliver babies.
251 Yaojiayuan Lu, Chaoyang District (8597 6699, 6282 5022) www.bjogh.com.cn 北京妇产医院, 朝阳区姚家园路251号
English-speaking staff: No and no translators.
Prenatal and delivery services: Regular prenatal check-ups. Vaginal delivery and C-section. No postnatal services.
Cost: RMB 6,000-8,000 for vaginal delivery, RMB 11,000-13,000 for C-section
Wuzhou Women’s Hospital
Billing itself as Beijing’s “first membership-based hospital catering to sophisticated women,” this private birthing clinic located just south of the Shuangjing Carrefour on Dawang Lu is affiliated with the Peking University People’s Hospital Medical Group. It offers gynecological and obstetric treatments in addition to a wide range of other women’s health services in a clean and modern 12,000 square-meter facility with over 100 inpatient beds. Wuzhou also offers water birthing facilities and has newborn swimming classes. No walk-ins; meeting by appointment required.
24 Xi Dawang Lu (south of the Shuangjing Carrefour intersection on the west side of Dawang Lu), Chaoyang District. (Hotline 4008-900-789) www.wuzhouhospital.com/en 五洲女子医院, 朝阳区西大望路23号（双井家乐福南）
English-speaking staff? Yes, but there are not enough English speakers. Best to bring a Chinese speaker.
Prenatal Services: Pregnancy classes and club, remote fetal heart monitoring, premature birth prognosis, parturition services, ultrasound, birthing rehearsal and pre-admission preparation (VIP members).
Delivery and postnatal Services: Water birthing, doula, C-section, epidural, newborn healthcare, swimming and touch therapy
Cost: RMB 29,000 for natural birth (including epidural option) to RMB 39,000 for C-section delivery.
Mavis Chen speaks Chinese and English, and provides doula services for both Chinese and foreigners. (8596 7577, email@example.com)
Childbirth educator and experienced midwife Anne Hemsley runs Parents to Be, a company that provides childbirth preparation classes for parents in the comfort of their own home. She also offers postnatal support. Parents may also meet her at Baby Cafe, meetings where parents discuss about any breastfeeding issues. These meetings are free of charge, but are by email invitation only. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
American Kathi Levitan, a licensed Bradley Method Childbirth educator, offers group childbirth classes, natural childbirth coaching, hypnobirthing classes, pre- and postnatal consultation, labor support and advocacy. (135 2007 8429, email@example.com)
Bronwyn Smith, a midwife from Australia, is available for prenatal and postnatal consultation, and breastfeeding consultation, either in hospital or at-home. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
American Robyn Wexler completed her doula training in 2003 in her hometown of San Francisco, Fluent in English and Chinese, she has been offering birth doula services since 2004. She is the co-founder and director of Yoga Yard wellness center, which offers pre- and postnatal yoga, as well as other yoga classes. Additionally,
Wexler is available for pre- and postnatal consultation, labor support and advocacy. (136 1126 6962, email@example.com) www.yogayard.com