|Pregnant in Shenzhen|
This is the first article in a series I will write to document my experiences with pregnancy in China. First of all: I'm glad I'm the father and not the mother! Xiaoxiong has been throwing up for a few weeks now, though things should improve soon as we have now passed the first trimester. During this period, Xiaoxiong has already had several tests in the hospital to monitor the pregnancy, her health and, this being China, we have had to get permission to deliver this baby as well. Then there are all the strange beliefs and customs in China. We'll come to that later.
The first 3 months
So about 2 months ago we found out that Xiaoxiong was pregnant. You can just buy pregnancy tests in every local drugstore so that's easy to determine :) About 2 weeks after we found out (4 weeks gestational age) we went to the hospital and then they did some tests to determine if Xiaoxiong was indeed pregnant: blood + urine tests. They tested progesterone levels, Beta-HCG and and they tested for some minerals in the blood to see if Xiaoxiong was healthy. Furthermore they tested for diseases such as RUB, CMV, TOXO, HSV, CMV. These are all common tests to determine if there are any risks. Luckily for us, there were no problems. After about 7 weeks gestational age we did the first ultrasound test + another test for HCG. At this moment the baby was about 1.0 cm long and was quite difficult to see as a fuzzy something.
End of 1st trimester : get government approval
After 3 months gestational age you have to build a "profile" in the hospital that will document the whole pregnancy. We got a special "mother and kid" notebook in which they wrote some basic facts about Xiaoxiong and me, such as height and weight. Furthermore they measured the size of the hips and some other basic checks. This profile book can only be made during working days, so you need to take a day off for this.
A small notebook that all pregnant woman in Shenzhen get. It's used to record all the tests and progress of the pregnancy and will also be used after the baby is born. The stamp on top says that we have no birth-certificate yet, later they put a new stamp on it that we have the permission and we can use insurance.
After they give you this profile book, a doctor will prescribe a battery of tests for you. Most of these tests are free, but only if you first got permission from the government to deliver the baby. So after we got the profile-book in the morning, we went back to our community to the "residence committee" to ask for permission to deliver the baby. This is something typically Chinese of course. Xiaoxiong had to prove that we were married; furthermore they asked if we both had no babies. If I had a baby as a foreigner, I don't think it would be a problem but probably it's just part of the procedure. Finally we had to sign a document that states we both promise to voluntarily use birth prevention after this baby is born, untill Xiaoxiong is 45 years old. We signed the document and outside I laughed about it. The officer gave us a document proving that we have permission for this baby and also a small blue booklet that says we have permission.
This little passport-like blue book is proof that we are allowed to have a baby. Without it, you need to pay for all tests in the hospital by yourself and I'm not even sure the hospital will deliver the baby.
Inside the blue book, something along the lines of: "according to the policy, this baby is permitted to be delivered" with a stamp of the local comittee over it. I removed the name of the local offical and some number.
So today, Saturday the 7th of August we went back again to the hospital with the additional permission documentation. With the profile book and the permission documents we went back to the nurses from yesterday and they checked everything and put a stamp on it. Some tests are totally free now because there is some birth-insurance Xiaoxiong has, but you can only use it after you get permission to deliver the baby. This saves quite a lot of money. I think all blood tests today together were about 500 RMB. We did several first-trimester tests to rule out neurological disorders such as Down's Syndrome. In particular we did a PAPP-A, free-beta HCG test and this midday, in another hospital, we will do an Ultrasound-NT ( nuchal translucency) test. Furthermore they tested ABO-bloodtype, RH[D], some liver and kidney and other functions and also tested for HiV, Syphillis and some other stuff. In a few weeks the results should be ready and then in one month from now (so 4 months) we have the next appointment with the doctor in the same hospital.
Chinese public hospital: assembly-line
For those who have never been to a Chinese hospital, you will be in for some shocks. First of all, you will not have much privacy. There are always queues of people everywhere and you can hear what's wrong with the people just in front of you. Nobody waits outside the door of the doctor's office, but just lines up at the desk. Furthermore you don't get one doctor, but it's more like assembly work. Each doctor does a little part of the assembly line of pregnant women walking in. The doctor normally will prescribe the tests, then you get some papers for which tests you need to do. Then you go to the cashier to pay for these tests (because we have permission to have the baby, this is often free now) and then you have to find the place to do the tests.
After the doctor prescribes the medicine and tests, you first need to pay for them. You can either pay cash or use your insurance card.
In the hospital where we went the blood tests were on the first floor and you just wait at the back of the queue with your profile book and the papers that show which tests you need to do. They will scan your book and prepare some empty tubes for you. Then you wait for one of the nurses to get the blood in the tubes and then you find the next place to do the next test. Urine test go to the second floor and ECG on the third I think. You just walk into the treatment room, and give your papers to the nurse that sits there.
The hospital close to our house. It's one of the better public maternity hospitals in Shenzhen
Everywhere you always see lots of people waiting, but in fact it's all quite efficient. They handle massive amounts of people this way. The only thing that is very important to remember, is that you are responsible for everything: you need to give the right papers to the right people in the right place. Xiaoxiong forgot today to give one paper and the result was that she had to come back later to do another blood test.
Xiaoxiong sitting down for the bloodtest, at the left the next people are waiting. The queue was about 25 people long when we were there, but moved quite fast
Another strange thing about our local hospital: they like to put up disgusting photos of badly misformed babies to warn parents of the risks of smoking and who-knows-what-else. I applaud the idea, but really this is disgusting. Judge for yourself:
Notice the graphical last part. These warnings are placed at several points in the hospital!
The other option: private hospitals
We're now just back from a visit to a private hospital near Dong Men in the East of Shenzhen. This hospital is a bit more expensive and we could even maken an appointment for the ultrasound scan. Inside the hospital looks much nicer as well with good privacy everywhere and few people in the waiting rooms. You get what you pay for :) The ultrasound was about 100RMB more expensive than in a public hospital, but I got the impression they did it quite good and it was no problem I came in to look at well. The baby was now 62mm long and moving quite a lot on the Ultrasound scan! We could even see arms, hands and legs!
We will probably do normal checkups and all the trivial stuff in the public hospital closeby (walking distance) and if there are any problems we will go to the private hospital probably. We have not yet decided about delivery yet. For several thousand RMB you can deliver your baby in the private hospital and then you can get a private room that looks more like a hotel room! I'll write about that later.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 August 2010 )|