We can imagine what you must be going through upon finding out that you are pregnant for the first time as an expat in a foreign land like Beijing. First of all, we would like to go through some of the advantages of having a baby in Beijing. If there is one thing we’ve learned by going through this, it’s that there are definite benefits in the maternity process that you won’t find in other countries (ahem… the US) along with a massive amount of support and courtesy that goes far beyond just the relinquishing of a seat on public transportation. For instance, you can usually expect at least three months of paid maternity leave during your recovery, most of the time at least two weeks of paternity leave, and even multiple lactation breaks at work to collect milk for your baby. This, along with affordable help after the baby comes, makes that transition after your child’s arrival much more manageable. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning.
Chances are if you are reading this with a bun in the oven, or a dumpling in your basket, or whatever metaphor best suits your situation, you have already made an initial consultation to find out if your pregnancy test was indeed accurate.
After you receive this verification, it is time to start looking for the hospital which is best suited for your needs. The first factor you need to take into consideration is what you can afford, as this determines whether or not you should be looking at international or local care. We’re not going to sugarcoat this for you by claiming that local hospitals are easy, but it can be done and because having a baby is a very common procedure, these hospitals are more than capable. Despite this, they operate very differently from what we are accustomed to in the west. This, combined with the fact that it isn’t very often that you have the luxury of a doctor or staff that speaks English, result in many foreigners going with a pricier international hospital.
That being said these hospitals are pricey for a reason, as many have very comfortable accommodations, decent food, English-speaking staff, and the necessary amount of privacy you would want during your labor and recovery. In fact, these places are almost designed to look like furnished hotel rooms, with private bathrooms and showers.
Usually, before you decide on which hospital you would like to continue at, there will be a comprehensive tour of the facilities so that you will see exactly what you are paying for. If you want the big day to be at one of these international hospitals but the monthly checkups at a local hospital, to save some money, this is also an option. Below you will find a list of popular hospitals.
What’s in a Package
The package usually adds up to a total of 13 visits including all of the necessary laboratory tests, consultations, and physical examinations. If you can’t afford the full 13, there are also cheaper options consisting of five or ten visits. These consultations and exams usually begin after week 14 and continue in varying degrees of frequency throughout the term.
On every visit, you will receive a series of tests including but not limited to urine and blood analysis, a 15-minute fetal Doppler monitoring session of your baby’s heartbeat, and a checkup from a physician, who usually explains some of the findings from your tests. The doctor will also provide prenatal counseling and general healthcare knowledge to make sure that you are making healthy decisions while your baby comes to term. Finally, the climax of your visit will no doubt be the obstetric ultrasound. These will usually take place at every other visit.
One of the most exciting parts of the prenatal process is the discovery of the baby’s sex. This is important for many families as it determines everything from the name to the color scheme of the bedroom or wardrobe. This being said, it isn’t always possible to gain this knowledge at a public Chinese hospital as it is technically against the law. More often than not for foreign couples at international hospitals, they will make a sly exception, so you can ask a little question like “should we buy pants or dresses,” and they will likely let you know. It’s kind of fun and sneaky, so we like it. However, at a public hospital they make you sign a waiver that doesn’t allow you to know the sex.
Around the 34th week, you will also go through a mandatory birth rehearsal so that you are aware of the process of admitting yourself to the room and making sure that the hospital is ready for your arrival. It is also when they give you one last tour of the facilities so that you aren’t freaking out when the time comes to provide the right environment for your loved one in labor and you’ll know how and who to call for assistance if needed.
Beijing United Family Hospital
This is likely the most luxurious option in Beijing’s birthing scene. With 20 years of service in Beijing and six other locations in China, they also have Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, which is a fancy way of saying that they are as good as it gets. 2 Jiangtai Road, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区将台路2号 (5927 7000)
Amcare Women’s and Children’s Specialized Health
Operating in Beijing for 11 years, this hospital chain focused on women’s and children’s health currently has branches in four cities and offers excellent, modern facilities. This is a popular option due to the sheer convenience of their services, with three locations in Beijing alone. Lido Address: 9 Fangyuan Xilu, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区芳园西路9号 (6434 2399). Yayuncun Address: Bldg 5 Anhui Beili Yiyuan Chaoyang District. 朝阳区朝阳区安慧北里逸园5号楼 (400 100 0016). Wanliu Address: 7 Wanliu Zhonglu, Haidian District. 海淀区万柳中路7号 (400 100 0016)
Oasis International Hospital
First opened in 2012, and located near 798, this is a convenient medical center for families in the Wangjing or Shunyi areas. Also with JCI accreditation, you can expect top-notch modern facilities, with homelike private rooms and delivery suites that offer comfort, safety, and privacy for patients and their guests. 9 Jiuxianqiao North Road, Chaoyang District. 朝阳区酒仙桥北路9号 (400 876 2747)
This article appeared on p36-37 of the beijingkids July 2018 Home & Relocation Guide issue