Shanghai maternity care offers many options for expats. Read our Shanghai Maternity Guide provided by TMC to help you prepare for having a baby in Shanghai!
You are living in Shanghai and you are pregnant! The first reaction is to panic, then a lot of questions emerge without knowing where to start.
All of this is entirely normal! There are significant challenges faced by couples having a baby away from home – especially if it is their first.
As an expat, if you tell your friends or family that you are considering to deliver your baby in Shanghai, they might think you are a bit unreasonable!
But the quality of Shanghai maternity care has improved greatly in the past few years. Now many reliable options are available, particularly if your pregnancy is considered 'low risk'.
Actually, some couples who delivered their baby in Shanghai recently claim that the care they received was probably better than the care they could have received in their own country.
However, as soon as the pregnancy is considered 'high risk', most expats will decide to deliver overseas. A high risk pregnancy may include twin pregnancy, previous history of preterm delivery, higher risk of haemorrhage etc.
In these type of situations if you deliver your baby at a local Shanghai hospital they might need to be transferred to specialized neonatal care where parents are often not allowed to visit their baby.
In some very specific situations, the pregnancy may require a full multidisciplinary team of specialists. Unfortunately, some specialists such as fetal medicine doctors are not always easy to find in Shanghai.
Deciding between Shanghai maternity or to deliver overseas will also depend on the support you can get, particularly after the birth of your baby.
Some couples feel more comfortable being home close to their friends and family.
Others find returning to their own countries to deliver will take too much time; considering that airline companies do not accept pregnant women for travel from 34-36 weeks. This means that you will need to leave China 5-6 weeks before and wait at least 1 month after the delivery to travel back.
It is also good to check with your consulate in advance regarding the rules for registering your child if they are born in Shanghai to decide if that should affect your decision.
Choosing a hospital and a healthcare provider in Shanghai is not easy as there are a lot of criterions to take into consideration:
Most international hospitals in Shanghai provide a good level of care with high standards, but usually this comes with expensive bills!
Even if most foreigners have international health insurance, most plans are limited. That’s why to avoid unpleasant surprises, it is very important to check with your insurance provider about your Shanghai maternity benefits. Here is what you should check :
If you have a specific medical condition such as cardiopathy, hormonal dysfunction or any other condition it probably would be wise to choose a General hospital with multiple expertise rather than a specialized hospital offering only maternity care.
Some pregnancy conditions such as foetal growth restriction, twin pregnancy, and previous history of preterm labor may require a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The international hospitals in Shanghai usually have limited NICU facilities so if your baby needs very specific neonatal care, a transfer to a local General hospital in Shanghai may be necessary.
Some women have a very clear idea of the type of delivery they want; drug free, water delivery, VBAC, natural twin delivery or planned C-section etc.
Whichever hospital you choose, some doctors may have different approaches to procedures and options. That’s why it is very important to be well informed of the options and discuss them with your doctor during your pregnancy so they know your preferences.
After considering your medical insurance benefits, the level of risk of your pregnancy, and your preferences, there are 2 main options to consider for delivery in Shanghai:
This is a good option if you don’t have any insurance or if the limit of your coverage is low. The cost is way less expensive:
Prenatal care : between RMB8,000 and 15,000
Delivery : between RMB10,000 and 13,000
International hospitals offer high quality Shanghai maternity care with English speaking staff.
Most international hospitals in Shanghai understand Westerners’ expectations and will support your choices. They are, therefore, usually the first choice for future expat parents in Shanghai
In Shanghai the expat community is very active and offers a lot of extra resources for expecting mothers. Joining in is also a good opportunity to meet with other soon-to-be parents.
We hope this guide will help you understand your options and the steps required if you are thinking about choosing Shanghai maternity. Whatever options you are considering keep well informed and don’t hesitate to use multiple resources.
Sarah Calestroupat is a midwife consultant and the founder of TMC (The Midwifery Centre) in Shanghai.
TMC offers prenatal consultations and classes throughout your pregnancy delivered by Western trained experts. They can also help you in choosing a suitable Shanghai hospital for delivery. During labor TMC can support you from the first contraction until the birth of your baby. They also offer postnatal support with home visits. Contact them for a Shanghai maternity consultation.
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