Being Pregnant in China

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!


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.


  • Zach!

    So happy you are posting again, I have been quietly reading your blog for the past year. Looking forward to the rest of the story! In my limited experience it seems that you really need to be your own advocate in China and come into the doctor’s office almost knowing what is wrong with you, or else you end up getting brushed off and shoved out the door. I developed mild anemia here, but when I went to the doctor to complain about being tired, she first suggested “oh it’s probably just jet lag.” When I explained I had been in China for >6 months, she got angry that I corrected her and seemed to be trying to find every reason to discount my symptoms and get me out of her office. Eventually I just had to demand the simple blood hemoglobin test I was asking for!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I’m happy to be writing again too! I have a similar feeling and I wish I could just trust the doctors and nurses to give me the best possible advice and help, but it seems to you yourself need to be better aware and prepared before going to the hospital. Though about giving birth, I’ve heard similar complaints from Finland as well.


    R Zhao Reply:

    I agree that in China it can be hard to trust doctors. But as far as in my own country, I think many women feel like they know more than their doctors due to all their “research” and therefore have a specific way they want the birth to go down. I think the problem lies in that there is no one way that is right and giving birth isn’t an exact science. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be your own advocate, no matter where in the world you are, but it’s also important to be flexible and keep a somewhat open mind because labor and delivery often don’t go as expected.


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I bet doctors think we are being very troublesome and “mafan” when we think we know better than them ;) You are right R Zhao, with giving birth you need to be prepared for going against your original plan.


  • R Zhao

    Wow! This is so different from what I experienced. I was told there would be NO epidural unless I had an unusually long and difficult labor. I also had to do some negotiating to get my husband allowed in with me during delivery (and it probably wouldn’t have happened if the doctor hadn’t been a relative!). But that’s small town China for ya. In the end, I had a c-section too and ended up hallucinating through it due to whatever drug they injected me with (my spinal hadn’t worked properly). It was a trip.

    It’s very interesting to hear what it was like for you. A friend of mine gave birth in Guangzhou and she also had a much different birth story than mine. I guess you just have to expect the unexpected when having a baby anyways!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    In this hospital they promote their epidural “service” to the pregnant women in their child birthing classes. You can get it pretty early, which of couse an lead to problems like I think happened to me. But it varies in different hospitals.


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