Shanghai Maternity for Expats

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!

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.


Shanghai Maternity

Should I Deliver in Shanghai or Overseas?

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 Your Hospital and Your Doctor

Choosing a hospital and a healthcare provider in Shanghai is not easy as there are a lot of criterions to take into consideration: 

Insurance Coverage for Shanghai Maternity

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 : 

  1. Make sure your are in the coverage period 
    Most insurers will only cover maternity 10-12 months after the commencement of your plan.

  2. Is there a limit of coverage for prenatal care? for the delivery ? for a C-section?
    If you decide to pay your prenatal check-ups separately, consultation by consultation, you may exceed your limit of coverage.
    That’s why most international hospitals offer prenatal packages with up to 40% discounts. Enrolling in  a prenatal package is a great option if your insurance has a limit for maternity benefits. The drawback is that you will probably have to pay the full amount of the package at your first visit and consequently, this commits you to follow all your prenatal check-ups in the same hospital.


Tips:

  • Even if you have quite good coverage, enrolling in a pre-natal hospital package can give you more coverage for other services such as prenatal classes or postnatal breastfeeding consultations.

  • If your coverage is very high, a package is probably not necessary and you can pay for your prenatal check-ups individually for each visit. 
  • Even if  your insurance requires you to pay a small percentage for each consultation as a co-payment; the benefit of only paying for individual consultations is that you keep the option of changing hospitals during your pregnancy.

    3. Does your insurance direct bill with the hospital?

  • Direct billing probably won’t be an option if you choose a package. 
  • If you choose to pay for each consultation separately, the option for direct billing is a great benefit. Some insurers and hospitals have direct billing agreements and you can also benefit from special prices.

    4. Does your plan cover other services such as: 
  • Prenatal yoga classes
  • Childbirth classes
  • Midwife consultations
  • Midwife support during labor and delivery
  • Breastfeeding consultations
  • All the required immunizations for your child after birth

The Level of Risk of Your Pregnancy 

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.

Your Birth Preferences

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: 

Local Shanghai Hospital

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


Tips:

  • Even if you choose a VIP section of a local hospital, the English level of the staff is usually quite low.
  • VIP sections of local Shanghai hospitals will give you more personal care, but the cost will be much higher.
  • At a local hospital you will also face some cultural differences. For instance, in some local hospitals the partner is not allowed to be present during delivery. Some local doctors might not support the type of delivery you want so you should discuss this with them as early as possible.
  • If you choose to deliver in a local hospital you will need to book very early in your pregnancy. 
  • Using additional support provided by international midwives can help you to be well prepared for the options and differences when choosing a local hospital.

Local Hospital List

  1. Shanghai No. 1 Hospital Of Maternal And Child Health
    上海市第1妇婴保 健院
   
    South Branch - Yaohua Road 391

 
  2. Shanghai East Hospital
    150 Jimo road, Pudong
  3. Changning Maternity & Infant Health Hospital
    773 Yi Wu Road

International Hospitals and Clinics in Shanghai

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

International Hospital List

  1. American Sino Hospital
    obstetric, gynaecology and paediatric

    Prenatal check-up: 3 different locations
:
    Worldpath clinic, Pudong
    Huashan road clinic

    Songyuang road clinic 
Inpatient delivery, 155 Songyuan road

    Average cost :

    Prenatal package- RMB20,000 to 25,000
    Vaginal delivery package- RMB50,000
    C-section- RMB78,000

  2. Shanghai United Family
    General hospital (not only maternity)

    Xianxia road

    Average cost : 

    Prenatal package- RMB 21,000 to 26,000

    Vaginal delivery package- RMB58,000
    C-section- RMB98,000
  3. Redleaf Hospital
    (located in American Sino hospital 9th floor)

    155 songyuan road - 9th floor

    Average cost : N/A
  4. Ferguson Women’s Health Clinic
    (located at American Sino hospital)

    Outpatient- 800 Huashan road at American Sino
    Inpatient- 155 Songyuan road - 15th floor
    Average cost :
    Prenatal package : RMB20,000-25,000

    Vaginal delivery package : RMB50,000

    C-section : RMB78,000

    offer lactation support
  5. Raffles Medical Centre
    only provide prenatal care (no delivery)
    
Average cost : prenatal package : RMB15,000 

Additional Shanghai Maternity Support and Resources

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.

  • Midwifery support : TMC (The Midwifery Centre), offers independent education and information by international healthcare professionals, support during your delivery, and a wide variety of pre and post natal classes.
  • Shanghai Mamas: This website offers a lot of helpful online Shanghai maternity information. Their forum and WeChat accounts are very active and parents can easily share their experience. They also organize events giving you the opportunity to directly meet with the community. 
  • La leche league: free mother-to-mother breastfeeding help and information - monthly meetings in Puxi
  • Aqua Aerobics Shanghai: offers pre- and postnatal aqua aerobic classes.
  • Prenatal yoga is available in several yoga studios as well as the clinic
  • Shanghai International Mental Health Association: offer emotional support

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.

About The Author

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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