12/21/16

Giving birth in Guangzhou – experiences from 5 hospitals

Being pregnant in a foreign country brings a bit extra stress to an expecting woman, especially when it comes to deciding where to give birth. I interviewed five women who all gave birth in Guangzhou or Foshan to share their experiences.

Choosing the hospital

When it comes to choosing where to give birth, the locations of the hospital is very important. Also recommendations from friends count a lot, as do a visit to the hospital. More about choosing a hospital check my previous post.

It is close to where I live. Several friends gave birth there and recommended it. It also has a good reputation for medical excellence. Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou

It was reasonable and have very good English-speaking doctors. They are very helpful at the hospital in all the sections. Guangzhou women and children hospital

It was next to our home… We heard more good comments than bad, our friends had babies there as well. Mother and child hospital in Tienhe

Good impression of doctors and facilities. Elizabeth

I was looking for a hospital which would let me have a VBAC. I knew a doctor who worked there, and one of my friends had 3 children there. Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department)

 

Cost of the delivery

Cost of giving birth can vary a lot from a few thousands to tens of thousands of RMB.

  • Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou: Deposit of 5000RMB, birth is more or less depending on your case [Natural birth]
  • Guangzhou women and children hospital: 15 000RMB [C-section] 
  • Mother and child hospital in Tienhe: 12 000RMB [C-section]
  • Elizabeth: 55 000RMB (paid by insurance) [Natural]
  • Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department): 15 000RMB [Natural]

 

Birthing experience

When it comes to being satisfied with the hospital of your choice or not, the birthing experience is high on the list of course. When making your choise, try to gather experiences from many sources to get the full picture. There isn’t a  hospital that would be perfect for everyone. For my own birth experience in Guangzhou, click here.

Very satisfied but I was also very lucky that I was the only one in the delivery room at that time, so I could get up and move around as I wanted and have our doula present.Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou


Yes very much satisfied. I stayed at the hospital for 6 days and it gave me a lot of time to recover from my unplanned c-section. Guangzhou women and children hospital


Well would be nice if they would have some courses for new moms, for example how to prepare breasts for feeding. I felt the information wasn’t enough. We couldn’t even get information on the prices, only when we left the hospital.

I don’t understand till now, why when we would go for check up every time – we would stay with the doctor for 10-15 min, but Chinese would take at least half an hour. And almost every time doctor would mention to me c-section, even I didn’t have any problem (ok I was big but she should feel and by scan should know that my baby’s size is good for natural birth. So I felt that it was a bit planed from doctor already.

I was late 6 days, when I came they told me if you won’t deliver till 7am we will help you. In my country doctors first doing everything to give u a chance to delivery by yourself. Not so much information, just paper singing even when you are on the table with the big pain – a lot of papers.

After our baby was born, they didn’t put my baby on my chest. Which I really would have wanted. But I thank them still cause me and the baby are healthy. I liked there that they had ayis to help out after delivery, you had to pay money for them, but it was worth the money.  Mother and child hospital in Tienhe


Very satisfied with everything. Delivery went very well, they listened to all my wishes, and I was even allowed to give birth in water even if my water had broken (this is normally not allowed in China, but still perfectly safe). Elizabeth


I am very happy to have had a VBAC. The service was great, we had a 24-hour Ayi in our room. My husband was present all along. Nobody ever forced me to have a C-section or a medication, midwives let me try giving birth in different positions. The hospital had some gifts for us, including a photo shoot at a professional photo studio. Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department)

 

Advice for others planning to give birth in Guangzhou

The women I interviewed also gave useful advice for all the other women in the same situation.

  • If you don’t speak Chinese, hire a Chinese speaking doula
  • Do research on the doctors who give you check ups, choose the one that fits for your
  • If you want an answer, sometimes you need to push the doctors to give it to you
  • Make sure you and your doctor click
  • Ask lots of questions, anything that comes to your mind
  • Ask if the paperwork can be done beforehand, not when you are pushing your baby out
  • Make sure the doctors and nurses support you
  • Ask how they deal with emergencies
  • Ask what they consider a natural birth is

For more information on being pregnant in China, check my earlier blog posts.

04/25/16

Giving birth in China: Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center

Delivery room

Delivery room

Our baby girl is almost six months now, but let’s go back to last year and the exciting and scary experience of giving birth in China!


I had chosen the Women and Children’s Medical Center because after my research and asking other mothers in the area, I think it was the best option within my budget. Lots of moms mentioned that if anything goes wrong, that is the hospital you want to be in or if you chose otherwise, you will be sent to this hospital.

It all started around 2am when I felt painful contractions starting. I soon woke my husband up and let him gather our bags in case it was the real deal. Only half an hour later I told him we really needed to get going! Luckily we have our own car so we drove to the hospital in 25 minutes. If you don’t own a car, remember to borrow or rent one, or find a friend to drive you to the hospital. You don’t want to be waiting for a taxi while you are in labor!

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We got to the hospital around 4am and started going through the standard procedures. If you are alone with your husband, he will be running around the hospital paying bills and  doing paper work while you are waiting alone at the emergency. It could be a good idea to get your mother, mother-in-law or doula to accompany you.

After all the paperwork was done we got sent upstairs where the delivery rooms are located. Usually you first get a regular hospital bed in a room, but the hospital was quite full when we arrived. First they told me to wait for an hour, but I kept screaming that I needed to get epidural right this second! Somehow they arranged me and husband to go to the delivery room right away.

Fitness ball

Fitness ball

You can only bring limited amount of items inside the delivery room, so pick separate hospital bags for before and after delivery. Your husband will need to buy and put on hospital gown which can get very sweaty in the warm temperature of the delivery room. My husband was wiping sweat from my and his forehead all day long!

I found out that I don’t do well with pain and asked for an epidural which I got quite quickly. The pain went away completely and I had quite a comfortable time waiting for my body to be ready to give birth to our daughter. I did use their fitness ball to jump up and down, also walks along the corridors to get the birthing moving. Unfortunately I was in charge of adding the epidural my self, so I pushed that button a bit too much which probably resulted in things getting slower.

During this time, roughly from morning till afternoon the midwives, nurses or doctors didn’t bother us too much. They had their computer in the same room which they used a lot, but it didn’t bother me too much. I was too concentrated on getting ready to see our baby.

When it was time to push the epidural had worn off, but my contractions weren’t powerful enough. They probably made me push before I had the right urge to push which made me exhausted. At this point I wish I had told them to wait longer for my natural feeling to push, but I was a first timer so now idea how you are supposed to give birth. Perhaps more preparation or having an experienced doula with me could have helped. My husband was even more clueless than me.

Control for the epidural

Control for the epidural

So having too much epidural and in a rush to push without the urge I ended up pushing for three hours. I really really wanted to push that baby out of me, but in the end I had no energy in my body at all. I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. I decided to go for c-section.

Now thinking back I wish I had asked for other options and kept going a little bit longer. I wish I had gotten better advice from the midwives along the journey in order to avoid c-section. I wish I had prepared my husband a bit better so he could have asked those things when I was too tired to do so.

So in the end my baby was born in a c-section while the doctors discussed how much weight I had gained during my pregnancy. Talk about doing it the Chinese style!

In the end it was of course all worth it, seeing my beautiful baby girl was surreal. I didn’t really quite yet understand that she was the one that had been kicking my inside my belly.


Lets do a recap of the pros and cons of my experience:

– husband needs to run around the hospital for paper work while I’m waiting alone

– I didn’t get advice on how to best use the epidural, and more importantly when not to add it

– They told me to push before I had the natural urge to push, making me exhausted

– Lack of advice on how to proceed after pushing for three hours in order to avoid c-section

– Not being sensitive enough (but that’s China)

+ They arranged a room for me quickly

+ They didn’t bother me too much with unneccessary check ups and let me move freely

+ They let me try different kind of positions to push and gave suggestions on positions

+ They showed me my baby girl after she was born

+ I felt medically safe through out the process


There is still a lot to say about our three-day stay at the hospital, first days with our baby, how hard it was to start breastfeeding and the lack of breastfeeding advice in China, but those are topics for the next time. Please let me know in the comments what you want to read next.

11/21/15

Zuo yuezi – Chinese postpartum traditions

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“While sitting the month you can’t be too active, you should lay on the bed and rest, you can’t take a shower, wash your hair or eat fruit…”

Yesterday I went to the park with our baby and my mother-in-law who was taking care of my nephew, her grandson. We had a lovely walk around the small pond, but then we got to the play ground where my nephew likes to look at other kids playing. He’s not even 6 months yet, so he can’t really join yet.

Lot of the mother’s and grandparents there know my mother-in-law and quickly came to talk with us. When they saw me and my two-week old baby girl in the sling, they asked were almost terrified on how I could take her out before she is one month old!

In China there is a tradition of zuo yuezi aka sitting the month, where the new mom stays at home for one month with the baby, and doesn’t go out at all. The rules and special diet to follow during this month varies from province to province. What the other mothers were the most shocked about were how I could take my baby out when she is too little and how I wasn’t wearing enough clothes.

The Chinese believe that everything you do during the first month affects your health for the rest of your life. Go to bed without drying your hair gets you headache when you’re old. Wearing too little hurts your bones in the old age. Drinking anything cold is of course out of the picture too. In more traditional families even taking a shower might still be prohibited and you need to be covered in thick clothing from head to toes. Eating a lot of chicken and drinking special soups is a must as well.

I briefly explained to the mothers that we don’t do “sitting the month” in the West and in Finland we can take our newborns out the very first day we get out from the hospital if it’s Summer. During the Winter it’s advised to wait a bit and perhaps stay at home if it’s colder than -10 Celsius. But this is Guangzhou and the weather has been around 28 Celsius degrees the whole two weeks I’ve been at home with the baby.

So am I doing the “zuo yuezi”? No, I wouldn’t say so and I don’t have the need to label this time either. I’m just simply doing what I think is best. At first I needed a lot of help from my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law because I had a C-section and the scar kept me from moving freely. My husband also only had seven days total off from work.

But now that I’m pretty much back to normal, of course still being careful, I can handle my self and the baby on my own. It feels good to be able to do things my self again! My mother-in-law keeps helping us with cooking, cleaning and giving a bath to our baby girl, while also helping out with her daughter and grandson!

Now that the first half of my first month after giving birth is over, I have to admit that I would go a bit nuts if I needed to follow the Chinese postpartum traditions to the letter. I’m feeling much better when I can go outside for a walk and do other things than laying in bed or on the sofa. Luckily my mother-in-law isn’t too strict with these and understands that I do things my own way.

Have you followed the “zuo yuezi” traditions or what kind of special traditions women have in your country? I’d love to hear in the comments!

11/18/15

May I introduce…

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Today I want to introduce you to someone special, someone who has totally taken our hearts and made us fall in love with her. May I introduce our precious baby Anna!

She was born two weeks ago and there are many stories and blog posts to be told about how it’s like to give birth in a public Chinese hospital. What kind of posts would you like to read about being pregnant and giving birth in China?

As a funny anecdote I need to mention that where I’m comfortable talking to our baby girl in Finnish, my husband still feels weird speaking Cantonese and has been mainly using Mandarin with her. Do you have a bilingual or multilingual family? How did you solve the language issue?

10/27/15

A practice round at the hospital

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Last Friday I started to get a bit anxious because I felt the baby haven’t been moving as much as before. Me and my husband decided to go to the emergency room to check things just in case. When we got to the hospital I saw a lovely nurse and a doctor, the emergency room was quiet and I didn’t have to wait at all because this was a special emergency room just for pregnant women.

After monitoring the heartbeat and movements of the baby with a fetal monitor after half an hour, the doctor got a bit worried and tried to wake up the baby in case she was sleeping. After that she luckily started moving again and kicking me to let me know everything’s okay. But after another half an hour the doctor informed me that I was having contractions every 7 minutes! I didn’t feel a thing.

The doctor did a check-up and decided it’s best to stay in the hospital as I might be getting into labor! Well, after staying in the hospital for two days nothing really happening, we are back at home waiting for the baby to decide when she want’s to come out. The baby is all ready there, but waiting for the right moment I guess!

During our “practice round” at the hospital I grew more confident that Women and Children’s Medical Center is the right place for me to give birth. All the nurses, midwives and doctors were very nice and caring, taking a very good care of us. The facilities and rooms are clean and comfortable. I’m not that nervous anymore when the time comes to go there and give birth.

So our baby girl might come any day now! We are both super excited to meet her!