Despite all the excitement and joy that comes with having a baby, the thought of giving birth can be unnerving, especially if you have extenuating circumstances. This is true even more so if you are going to have your baby in a foreign country far from home. But there’s no reason to fret. With a vast number of highly qualified hospitals, doctors and experts on hand, Shanghai offers great support and services for people who wish to begin, or grow, their family in China. We spoke to new mother from the United States, Laura Ma, on her experience giving birth to her second child in Shanghai.
What hospital did you choose to make your birthing hospital?
As soon as we walked into Shanghai United Family Hospital, we fell in love with the place. The medical team there consists of internationally- trained obstetricians, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, midwives and nurses. When I observed the nurses, they were very busy; they had so many things to do. I could tell that everyone had so much experience. I knew and felt that “yes, this is a real hospital” and that the medical staff can handle whatever happens. I felt truly safe here. It is a clinical environment and everyone is highly trained. That’s why I really liked it.
Why did you choose this hospital?
I knew about a pregnancy complication that I had called placenta previa. Placenta previa is quite dangerous, and many people with this condition deliver prematurely, sometimes having a very early baby, even at 28 weeks. We wanted to find the best hospital that would have everything we needed. Our doctor in a different private hospital didn’t recommend that we deliver at that facility, instead suggesting we come to Shanghai United Family Hospital in light of our situation.
How was your overall experience being pregnant and giving birth in Shanghai?
We were still very nervous about the delivery because I thought there was still a chance that I may suddenly start to bleed as a result of my condition. It’s quite a common occurrence and I understood its likelihood.
I needed to know that my doctors and nurses had good control over everything, as even with great doctors, bad things can still happen. I was very scared about that possibility, so my husband and I talked everything over very thoroughly with Dr Ninni Ji about what she planned to do during my C-section.
Dr. Ji prepared everything and planned several safety precautions, which she then explained to us, assuring me I would be okay and that she would take care of us. During the C-section, our midwife Molly held my hand to calm my nerves and she even managed to take a video of my daughter’s birth, something I didn’t think I would get to see. The anesthesiologist took extreme care of me and even made me laugh during the surgery. Thanks to their team, their care, and their diligence, I delivered my happy, healthy baby and had a great experience with what could have been a very scary situation.
Giving birth at a local hospital
There are 3,600 maternity beds in hospitals across the city equipped to manage up to 250,000 births every year, according to the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission. However, given that China’s family planning regulations changed in October 2015, allowing couples to have a second child in order to help address the aging issue in China, the country is preparing for a baby boom. So, if you’re planning on delivering at a local hospital, it’s best to book early.
What to expect at a local hospital
Those delivering at local hospitals, in the VIP wing or regular ward, should expect vast cultural differences and limited English-language support. C-sections are common and breastfeeding support may be minimal. Typically, private rooms at Chinese hospitals have a small sofa, intended for an ayi or mother-in-law, not your husband. While international hospitals come at a price, many women find familiarity during birth invaluable.