My husband and I are planning on moving to kunming in April with our 4 year old. We've just found out I'm pregnant due in October. Not sure what to do now and what living in kunming with a baby will be like! Most likely still coming around the same time. Anyone had any experience with this? Advice? Our 4 year old grew up on Hong Kong until about 16 months old so we do have some experience of working and raising kids overseas. Still, kunming is new for us. Any advice is appreciated :-)
I have a 10 month old here. You've asked a big question! Plenty was covered in this thread a few months ago...
Maternity hospital behind the GreenLake Hotel is where most people go for maternity care, before, delivery, and post delivery. There's also an excellent Children's Hospital (two branches) in the city and on the edge of town (newer facility). These hospitals see roughly 3k outpatients per day - so be prepared for at least a half day of lines. Best to have "guanxi" for these places if possible - facilitates line-jumping. Kunming and China in general has virtually NO evidence based medical care - so chronic problems frequently go un-recognized.
Formula (if you go the formula way) is rather expensive if you buy foreign brands - we bought New Zealand branded formula for anywhere from CNY 300-600 per can. We bought from local dealers that have been in business for a LONG time - most stores give you crappy gifts like strollers, blankets, etc as you accrue purchase "points".
STROLLERS AND BABY CARRIERS
Get a GOOD baby and infant carrier. You'll need it. Beware thieves on buses, trains, etc - they'll target you as you're distracted with baby things - be aware. Strollers are difficult to use as the sidewalks can be ... bumpy and crowded - and you frequently have to contend with e-bikes zipping along the sidewalks.
At 4yo - you can put your kid into daycare/nursery school - but they MUST be potty trained (no diapers).
Unless you can use your work's guanxi - most nursery schools are more like daycare centers in KM. You'll be lucky if your child can scribble their own name when it's time to go to primary school (assuming you're here that long). Beijing and other Tier 1 cities - kids learn basic poetry and usually have a 100-200 word reading and writing vocabulary - so you'll have to home school to keep them on par with Tier 1 city kids.
DIAPERS & DIAPER WIPES
Diapers - Walmart or Carrefour - we used Pampers - the expensive white plastic wrapped ones for nite times (comfortable) and the cheaper green plastic wrapped ones for daily wear & tear. Wet wipes (non-alcohol) - everywhere - we tend to use Japanese brands as Pampers wet ones are alcohol based - which accelerates rashes and stings. We alternated between Vaseline petroleum gel and French (expensive) branded liniments for rashes - but if your quick to change the diapers - you can generally avoid rashes.
Kunming is at 2km altitude. It gets dry, so keep the baby hydrated - although formula usually does the trick. There's free bottled (water dispenser) hot water everywhere (especially banks!) - for emergencies. And keep your eyes out for fast food restaurants and Chinese 5 star hotels (for bathrooms). Newer shopping centers also have handicapped restrooms - although they can be grubby - the one near our house uses the handicapped restroom to store their dirty mops n stuff.
Sometimes when people move here with newborns - they'll go through some periods of vomiting as they acclimate to the pollens and other dirty things (some adults also). Again - the key is to keep yourselves and the children hydrated. Drink stores (sugar water) and bottled water abound - in an emergency.
Wet markets (farmers' markets) are great for buying most fresh produce - wash fruits etc diligently (another use for bottled water, in a clinch).
Best wishes - the gokm online community is quite warm and helpful, so don't hesitate to ask online. As @Ocean mentioned - use the search feature to mine the wealth of blogged material.
FINALLY - learn to use taobao.com (and translate.google...choose your favorite country) for online shopping. Baby things are ludicrously expensive and it's hit or miss with stores - some sell crappy junk - others...more expensive stuff. The large department stores carry nicer stuff - but significantly pricier.
A blender (either handheld or countertop) is a necessity for blending fruit, veges, and other forms of frappeed (?) baby foods - when your infant gets to pseudo-solid food age.
Needless to say - internet will be your lifeline to the community...but that's another thread. FYI - Facebook, youtube, twitter - non-functional unless you use a VPN - but - that's another thread.
Regards and best wishes - laotou.
Many foreigners use private hospitals such as Maria and Richland for maternity checkups and giving birth. Private hospitals provide a better customer service while still having most of the health care options of the public hospitals.
The age that Kindergatens accept kids is three but if you pay an extra fee then 2.5yrs is also ok
@laotou: I assume the 'most people' means 'most people from western and/or highly developed countries', is that right? & who belongs to 'the community'? Isn't 'lifeline' a bit dramatic? Finally, I think there are 'dirty things' everywhere, just different ones - I don't know about the pollen, it's a problem I (fortunately) don't have.
@Yuantongsi & private hospitals: I think there are good ones & not so good ones - and my own experience with public hospitals has been good, although I've had no maternity issues to deal with there. Have heard no complaints about Maria, but I have heard complaints about Richland, though not as concerns maternity care (mainly it's about their wanting to charge you a lot of money - also, an issue some years back of a guy diagnosed with appendicitis who soon found he didn't have appendicitis).
The maternity hospital behind the Green Lake Hotel is heavily used by locals, so language skills or a translator are critical. The advantages of private hospitals catering to foreigners is their pseudo-English language abilities, but even Yunda (Yunnan University) Hospital has pseudo-english speaking physicians...if you can find them.
English language ability is no guarantee of quality or competent medical care.
Everything can be dramatic when the wife is pregnant up to and including a year after delivery. Depends on the wife and her emotional yoyo.
Mainland China is very different from Hong Kong. I think you can still have a great life here, but keep in mind that you might have massive culture shock.
We're coming around June with a 2.5 year old. We should party :)
Just sent a private message. Check your inbox. My two cents: don't deliver in a Chinese hospital if you have a choice. We delivered in the hospital behind the Green Lake Hotel and it's more like a factory than a hospital. I'd recommend Maria instead.