Congratulations! You’re pregnant, and not just that, you are having your baby in Beijing. A lot of international hospitals and support networks are around to help guide your journey to motherhood for the first time, or once again. A few things will be different in this issue of beijingkids though; we made a small guide to help the family make the transition easier. Look out for our special maternity issue coming out in July for a more in-depth explanation of what to expect when you’re expecting in Beijing.
International hospitals have all the modern technology you would need to give birth. Some of the more popular hospitals with maternity departments include Amcare, Beijing United Family Hospital, and Oasis International Hospital. Also available are postpartum doulas to help a new family in those first days and weeks after bringing home a newborn. Home birth is not permitted in China, and we would advise giving birth at a hospital.
Finding a good obstetrician and hospital, as well as that somebody with whom you feel compatible with while feeling secure is very important. Follow your gut instinct and find out the English speaking levels at the hospital. Also, get your insurance settled and inquire about self-pay and package deals at hospitals.
Resume your post-birth customs the same way as you would at home, but this time add a strange Chinese traditional practice. Elderly local ladies advise pregnant women complete zuò yuè zi 麟墩綾 or “sitting the month,” which is, staying warm in bed and resting up for a month after birth. Together with other rituals and dietary restrictions (mainly bland food), these Chinese elements will bring you quickly back to health. Don’t be surprised if locals frown upon you leaving home with a newborn before this period is over.
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find friends who can be your family while you’re away from home during these exciting moments of your life. The good thing in Beijing is that there are a lot of expat parents who are willing to help and give advice to newcomers. Online groups are a great way to start looking for potential friends. Make use of your newly set up WeChat to look for your mommy tribes and groups like Bumps2Babes (a playgroup organization), Beijing Parenting and Beyond (a WeChat group where parenting resources are being shared by parents), and Beijing Mommy Yahoo Group. Feel free to contact us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get connected to these or other helpful parenting groups (see p 52 for more community groups).
Documents for Your New Baby
Registering your baby for passports and residence permits is such a complicated and tiring process but needs to be completed before the baby is 30 days old days to avoid fines. If the baby is from two non-Chinese parents, the hospital will give them a birth certificate. Make sure the hospital staff writes down the English names of both parents. Bring that to your or your partner’s embassy or consulate to apply for your baby’s passport. The process is usually straightforward and will require you to bring along some passport photos and the necessary paperwork that you can find on the embassy website.
The baby will need a visa or residence permit as well, and you should apply for this within 30 days. You don’t have to wait for the passport to be issued by the embassy or consulate. Go to the local Exit-Entry Office of the Public Security Bureau and bring the following:
• Birth certificate
• Parents’ passports
• Proof from the embassy or consulate that you are applying for your baby’s passport
Babies born to one Chinese parent and one non-Chinese parent will be considered a Chinese national. China does not recognize dual nationality. However, you can renounce your child’s Chinese citizenship, but this is not easy and the protocol is not always clear
Chinese rules and regulations change on a regular basis. Finding information and parents who recently finished the process are wildly available. Having a baby in Beijing does not have to be daunting, and with the support of your newfound pengyou, you’ll be amazed by how child-friendly your new home can be!
This article originally appeared on p 26-27 of beijingkids May 2017 Home & Relocation Guide.
Download the digital copy here.