Expecting a baby is daunting for every new mother, and living in a city far from home adds to the stress. But rest assured, giving birth in Shanghai is a well-worn path and there is plenty of expertise on hand.
Your insurance will likely determine which maternity hospitals to shortlist. Insurance packages differ widely, so read the fine print. It is crucial to obtain maternity coverage 10-12 months before a baby is born.
Liaise with your insurer and the hospital to determine whether direct billing is an option, or if upfront payment is required. If you have an un-expected pregnancy, with no maternity coverage, it is recommended to insure the baby from birth.
How to choose a hospital in Shanghai.
Expectant moms today are well-read, well-versed and internet Savvy, remaining up-to-date on current technologies, services and procedures.
Select a medical provider who stays abreast of medical advances and trends and also provides caring services to ensure your expectations are met.
Key criteria for choosing a birthing hospital:
A strong medical team that follows evidence-based international medical protocols, such as those by the American College of Pediatrics and OBGYN, and provides a strong emphasis on a non-invasive birth. “In Shanghai, C-sections account for 60-75% of deliveries in local hospitals, compared with 30-40% at international hospitals.
Discuss medical intervention with your doctor, and provide a birth plan beforehand.
An on-site neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), so that both parents and baby can remain together if the baby requires intensive care. Be aware that babies may still be transferred to a specialist pediatric hospital, like the Children’s Hospital of Fudan university, for any major complications.
A complete continuum of care, including prenatal classes, knowledgeable and caring midwives, board-certified obstetricians and pediatricians. And breastfeeding support staff.
Giving birth at a local Chinese 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 Shanghai’s family planning regulations changed in March 2014, allowing couples to have a second child if either of them were an only child, the city is preparing for a baby boom. An extra 20,000 to 30,000 newborns are expected per year between 2014-16, with an estimated 200, 000 babies to be born annually in the city. A record 239, 600 babies were born in Shanghai in 2012, the auspicious Year of the Dragon.
According to Gerald Ang, General Manager of Raffles Medical Shanghai, which provides prenatal and antenatal care for patients delivering at local hospitals, the number one tip for those planning to deliver at a local hospital is to book early.-Maternity services are in heavy demand in Shanghai, especially the VIP wards of the well-regarded hospitals.
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 your mother-in-law, not your husband.
While international hospitals come at a price, many women find familiarity during birth invaluable.
Prenatal Support Prenatal classes
Most international hospitals host prenatal childbirth classes that provide information about pregnancy and childbirth, and address the physical, psychological and emotional challenges that a family may face during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Check whether classes are included in the hospital’s prenatal package. The second trimester is an ideal time to attend.
Yoga is hugely popular among expectant moms, with programs offered across the city. Many of the yoga studios offering prenatal yoga also offer post-natal, baby, and “mom and me” yoga classes.
Create a network of support – The importance of having a strong network of support during pregnancy can’t be underestimated. Making friendships during that time will give mothers connections with others who will be going through similar challenges and milestones at the same time. Establish regular coffee mornings and playgroups, which provide ongoing opportunities for socializing for both mothers and children.
Many mothers have found invaluable support from the forum Shanghai mamas, which offers opportunities to connect, ask advice, share stories and experiences, and meet a diverse community of families and friends.
Postnatal Support Breastfeeding support
For those planning to breastfeed, join a breastfeeding support group prior to delivery and learn about successful lactation. According to certifiedlactation consultant and la leche league volunteer leader Melanie Ham,”Support groups teach normal infant behaviors and feeding patterns, while connecting new moms with a network of others who share tips, tricks and strategies for integrating breastfeeding into daily life.
New mothers need encouragement, education and time to help them develop confidence and enjoy a positive breastfeeding experience.
“A lactation consultant is an allied health care worker who liaises with the mother’s doctor and the baby’s pediatrician to create a lactation care plan designed to help the family achieve their breastfeeding goals. Many hospitals inadvertently sabotage breastfeeding through prolonged separation of mother and baby, improper positioning,and prematurely introducing formula. Attending a support group or hiring a lactation consultant such as lunabelle lactation can help families avoid these challenges.
New mothers who experience postpartum depression can access resources and support through shanghai douta.
A douta is a trained child birth attendant who provides non-medical support to women and couples during pregnancy, labor and birth (day or night, for as long as it takes). She provides physical, emotional and informational support as needed.
Studies show that when labor is supported by a douta, women experience a decreased risk of medical intervention and C-section, and an increased likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth and overall satisfaction of childbirth.
A yuesao is a nanny who cares for both mother and baby in the first months after birth. Most yuesao live-in, maintaining the same schedule as the baby and providing To und-the-clock care. Duties of a yuesao may include breastfeeding assistance, changing and bathing the baby, administering night feeds, checking the mother’s postnatal progress, and preparing special foods and soups to nourish the mother and promote milk supply.