Tenwest Mandarin School


Pregnancy and childbirth - Yunnan Women and Childr

JanJal (1027 posts) • +5

We had a baby delivered in Yunnan Women and Children Hospital in spring 2017. We were told by the staff that I was the first western parent to appear there (they had had foreigners from Vietnam and Myanmar before), so here is a review of the place, as well as general description of our experience with pregnancy and childbirth in China.

We started the project a couple of years before, but had first month miscarriage on first try. At that time we were visiting another hospital, and after we got the verdict my wife wanted to change hospital and we went to Yunnan Women and Children Hospital on BaiYun Lu to take care of that failed attempt.

Later in 2016 when she got pregnant again, we continued to visit this hospital.

It is a small hospital, with both the benefits and maluses of such - it's not crowded, the staff is not overly stressed, there are no people sleeping in beds in the corridors, but they are also not prepared to deal with more serious medical issues that may arise during pregnancy or delivery. If such would come up, they would transfer the then-patient to bigger hospital.

The hospital also promotes natural pregnancy and delivery, as well as cheap prices. My wife was geared towards natural delivery if at all possible, and we didn't feel anyone at the hospital trying to speak her out of it. If she knew what was coming, she might have opted for C-section though.

From the first checkups and consultations, we were quite happy with the staff. My wife really liked the doctors that she dealt with, could almost say they became friends. I'm not sure how much to that contributed that I was a western face and the staff was curious about our pregnancy and life in Kunming in general.

As for myself, none of the staff really spoke any English beyond "hello" or "sit down, please", so I was at mercy of my wife's translations and machine translating ultrasound reports for more details.

Our pregnancy came with minor anomaly of umbilicial cord having just one artery (usually there are two), which prompted us to get DNA test to check for any other issues. We got that from a sample of my wife's blood. The sample was collected at the hospital, which they then sent to another city (Beijing if I remember correctly) for analysis, and my wife got report back from there directly (both as text message and as a letter).

Since we didn't have any other problems to expect, we had just regular checkups and ultrasounds as scheduled. Toward the end of pregnancy, missing one of the umbilicial arteries can cause slowed growth, so we started weekly checks a little earlier than would have been the case normally.

We had opted out involving my wife's mother (who lives elsewhere in Yunnan and is not familiar with the city) from caretaking during later stage of pregnancy and also during the post-delivery confinement (which my wife chose to follow at least partially). We considered recruiting someone local to help, but eventually decided to do it with just the two of us and our friends who live nearby.

Our pregnancy went really smoothly in that perspective.

In late April 2017 on due date +1 day we went to the hospital, perhaps a day sooner than we would have needed. Anyway, at that time they only had one available family room, so it was a good decision. The room had two hospital beds, so I could sleep there also. We had our own toilet, a dirty but usable microwave oven, water dispenser, and a TV that was not tuned very good. The hospital is within walking/bus ride from our home, so I could easily go home when I wanted.

The hospital doesn't have restaurant, but some simple Chinese buffet meals are delivered at lunch and dinner time downstairs, where they can be bought to take away. Food can also be delivered to rooms if bought from outside restaurants online. There is a strip of restaurants close by on BaiYun Lu also.

Our check-in was in a Thursday afternoon, and my wife's labor became troublesome for her in Saturday afternoon. With contractions at least every 10 minutes, she (and I) were unable to sleep the following night, and sometime during the night we were asked to transfer downstairs closer to the delivery room where the young doctor in night shift could better keep eye on her.

No doubt a smart thing to do, but it didn't help us much - the big room we were put into had windows to the street outside, with loud trucks running there in late night and mosquitos to bother us - or me, as my wife was preoccupied with her contractions to care about anything else. It was really tough on her, and lack of sleep and physical tiredness caused some concern of not being able to deliver naturally as she had decided beforehand.

We were still waiting there in the morning when the day shift came, and our friend came to support. Doctors decided to give my wife some medication to help her sleep in the morning, and with it she could get one hour of sleep. At this time I also went back upstairs to our room for a nap and let our friend monitor the situation.

When I got back, my wife had already woken up but she was still less than half way dilated. On a good side, she had attention of several doctors and nurses, because at first she seemed to be the only person delivering that day (plus again, maybe a foreigner on the scene brought some extra effort). We later asked if this was a normal day there, but were told that the day before had been much busier.

Then at some point one of the doctors decided that it was time to move my wife to the delivery room. Around the same time another expecting mother and her family showed up, and I think hers was the second delivery of that day.

As is normal in most Chinese hospitals, father could not be in the delivery room. Regardless, our baby boy was born couple of hours later in Sunday afternoon at 4000g and 55cm, much to everyone's surprise of my wife being able to push a normal delivery of that size.

Some minor complications required our son to be placed in observation for few days after delivery, and after I held our baby from delivery to there, it actually took 3 days until either of us got to see him again. After leaving the baby to the observation, I (or rather our Chinese friends) listened a doctor give details about how the delivery went and how the baby was doing immediately after.

At this time my wife was still recovering in the delivery room. About 2 hours later she came out, smiling brightly and evidently not in any pain and not looking tired. Actually her whole recovery from the delivery went as smoothly as her pregnancy, both physically and mentally.

The observation ward had visiting hour (singular, and includes the parents) only in morning 8:30 - 9:30. At that time, if you are lucky, you get to see the baby through a glass as a nurse holds him. But we were not, and for those 3 days our only contact with our newborn baby was photos that the nurse could take on our mobile phones each morning. There was also a doctor to report on the well-being of the baby at that time.

This was perhaps the most peculiar experience compared with what I would have expected in western hospital in my home country for example - and that's considering the whole 9 months. Our baby was breathing on his own and just needed monitoring and phototherapy for jaundice. In western country this situation would have allowed multiple daily visits, feedings, the whole range of activities with the baby.

But as they probably had a bunch of infants there with varying conditions, perhaps it was just not convenient for them to arrange physical meeting for any parents. I saw some parents deliver their own pumped milk to the nurses, but we were not there yet.

My wife could return home 3 days after delivery, and the same morning we could also get a glimpse of our son. The morning after that we got confirmation that our son could come home later that day.

When we came to pick him up, one detail for foreign parent is that we were not allowed to have both Chinese and foreign name on the birth certificate (had to choose one or the other), so we chose just Chinese for that.

As for the costs, the visits and tests during pregrancy were approximately 5500 RMB (2000 for DNA test), and the week at hospital (our room, the delivery, and baby in observation for 4 days) was 9000 RMB.

Our son is now 3 months old, healthy and happy.

michael2015 (654 posts) • +1

Congrats on the new kid and thanks for the detailed diary of your experience. We elected to deliver our second child at the WuYi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital on WiYi Lu - roughly same price, lower cost meds cuz they're TCM - and we had 3 beds to the room (or was it 4, can't remember anymore), with room to sleep in a folding chair/bed.

As Ele (food delivery) wasn't quite popular and we didn't really know how to use it - I'd just go out and get food from the abundant eateries nearby.

Our hospital uses drugs to accelerate contractions - especially when one's wife is a week late and seriously running out of energy. That did the trick.

Baby slept with us (and everyone else's babies) shortly after delivery. I got to feed the baby first - always a miracle as they just seem to know to suck on that bottle - we opted for formula.

As with other chinese maternity hospitals - I had a bag of snickers chocolate bars - in case she ran out of energy during labor (which she did - but I had a box of chocolate bars...my bad).

The TCM hospital as with most chinese hospitals, tends to keep the new mother for a week or two, mostly so the mother can rest (post care).

Our newborn is now 2 years old, talkative and naughty - which I suppose means mentally and physically healthy - and she still screams quite well - so seriously healthy lungs.

I love the TCM hospital as it's full service, but packed like cattle. It's truly a baby factory / machine - but on that note - efficient. AND I love the cost of their TCM based meds - a fraction of the cost of western drugs - same efficacy. I also love the smell of TCM moxibustion - but that's another story...too bad you can't smoke that stuff...(as far as I know).

redjon777 (563 posts) • 0

Congrats on your son :o)

As we had to also choose Chinese or English name for my son's birth certificate, we gave him an English first and last name but with a middle name having a Chinese meaning (played a bit loosely with pinyin lol).

JanJal (1027 posts) • 0

My embassy told us, that if we in future apply for citizenship for the child (and thus western name), the family name can be changed for that purpose (to my own), but first (and middle etc) names must be exact romanized versions of the Chinese name.

Ocean (1161 posts) • 0

Four years ago we had to have a Chinese name - computer only took max four characters!

michael2015 (654 posts) • +1

Both kids - Chinese name on Chinese birth certificates, English names not even closely related in meaning or sound, on their US birth certificates, passports, (and social security cards).

On a side note - US consulate/embassy services - ludicrously and exorbitantly expensive. Rates set by their big boss - the US State Department.

Baby, infant, and toddler's passport good for 1 year...USD 105+ pics & travel expenses. Seriously?

minor < 16yo passports, good for 5 years - same thing...USD 105 seriously?

Adult's passport - USD 135 (10 years)...ouch..plus travel & pics.

redjon777 (563 posts) • 0

It really does cost an arm and a leg to just sort out the paperwork for family travel lol. Never mind actually booking a place to go...

Haali (1136 posts) • 0

That's cheap!

Registering a birth with the UK - £150. Piece of paper to show it, £50. Delivery charge to China, £23.

This is not a birth certificate nor a passport. It's just something which smooths future claims to British passports etc, which costs another £75...

redjon777 (563 posts) • 0

Had to go through that whole process getting my son's UK passport. Biggest hassle I've had yet since moving to China.

To actually sort the passport we had to go to Beijing, got there filled out paperwork and then was told we had to come back to Beijing to collect the passport instead of them sending about a month later when it was all processed.
So the price really did add up in the end but it was all sorted finally!

Docs they wanted in Beijing:

2 recent identical photos

Identity Docs (1, Should show parents link confirming how they know parent) :
Parents ID
Birth records
Antenatal records

Birth Docs :
both parents full birth certificates (showing both the child’s and parent's details), I needed new one :(

parent's marriage certificate (this does not apply for those born on or after 1 July 2006 but still take)

Parents Docs :
full colour photocopy of my passport

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