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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.

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Judy  - it's useful   | |2010-08-07 22:10:24
Hi,Thijs ,congrations to you and XiaoXiong.This article is useful for me,supplying the clear instractions of how to apply the boring government approval and the point of doing tests in hospital.
Henrique   | |2010-08-08 22:54:44
gefeliciteerd en hou mij op de hoogte, wij willen volgend jaar ook aan kids beginnen.. weet je al bv of je bij de bevalling(mocht het geen keizersnede zijn) in de kamer aanwezig mag zijn, ik vernam dat dit in China niet gebruikelijk is.Krijgt jullie kind een NL nationaliteit? Hoe gaat dat in zijn werking? En hoe zit het met evt een 2e kind krijgen in China..
Hemmo   | |2010-08-16 00:58:29
Thijs, bij de eerste ging Penggui naar het Shenzhen Beijing hospital. In november komt de tweede waar ik niet bij kan (en liever ook niet bij wil) zijn. Echter ik ben erg benieuwd naar de dagprijs van het maternity hospital in Futian . Kun je ook een foto vd kamer bijvoegen?
thijsterlouw     |SAdministrator |2010-08-16 10:31:42
Hoi Hemmo, ik beantwoord even in het Engels

We didn't inform about prices for delivering at the Futian Maternity hospital, because at the location where we go, they only do checkups. They have another location for deliveries I believe. We are considering going to the private hospital in Luohu called "Shenzhen Far-East Women & Children Hospital"


The prices are seperated according to C-section/natural delivery and how beautiful the room in the hospital is:

Natural delivery:
Private room: 6K
VIP room : 10K
They also have cheaper rooms, when you share it with 1 or 2 other women.

Private room: 10K
VIP room : 15K

According to mothers at it's very good (and new hospital). They have photos on the official website:
Hemmo   | |2010-08-17 02:22:14
Thijs, thanx however my server Google Chrome cannot translate all of this website-language ( Are the prices per day or ....?

Maybe my wife will consider another hospital as our home is in Shenzhen-North (Bantian) or she will go to Hong Kong as she has some connections over there.

Good luck, Hemmo
Thijs     | |2010-08-17 10:37:13
Prices are in total, I believe about 5-7 days staying in hospital (hotel-like for the 1-person/VIP rooms). The total cost of delivering a baby in Shenzhen ( 10K RMB , 5K if you go to cheaper hospital + your wife can use her insurance to pay most of the costs for the delivery ) pales in comparison to delivering in Hong Kong ( around 100K RMB ). Hong Kong is too expensive for us, though the option to get Hong Kong ID AND Dutch ID is quite nice.
Hemmo   | |2010-08-22 23:03:09
Thanx Thijs, i have notified my wife about the hospital in Luohu. Considering about Hong Kong hospital this is not really relevant for us so we'll pay the fine for having the second child wich is about 10.000 RMB. Or have only the Dutch passport (moving to The Netherlands in 2012).
Fanny   | |2010-11-18 11:45:31
I am french, living in Futian, and i am doing pregancy follow up in same hospital you mention above. As i can see it has been some month you did not update this page, so i am wondering wereas your wife is till having her checking there? and what are your plan for delivery now? staying in SZ or going to GZ or HK?
That would be nice to share the experience. That's my second baby, the first one was born in SZ, but i hope i can do it in better condition for the coming one!
Thijs     | |2010-11-18 12:33:34
Hi Fanny, I think my wife will be happy to help you with any questions you might have. I plan to write some new posts on the baby-subject soon.
My wife is currently 6 months pregnant, and still doing her check-ups in the same hospital. We are now starting to plan where to do the delivery; perhaps in a different hospital. For us, one consideration is if we can use the Chinese social insurance system for the delivery. Apparently this is only possible if you go to a public hospital. We will therefore probably first consider all public hospitals for our first kid. If they are too bad, we might consider the private hospitals (which have very nice service/rooms). We will just deliver in Shenzhen; again based on the cost. Going to HK will cost 50-100K RMB. That might be an option for the 2nd baby though. I don't think we will consider Guangzhou, since there are enough hospitals in SZ.
fanny   | |2010-11-30 14:32:54
Hi Thijs. I would be happy to meet your wife, is she planning to go to the hospital for check up around Dec 13-14? As i will go there on that date and for sure she can not miss me as i will probably the only foreigner as usual.
I think Futian Maternity and Child Care Hospital is public no? I did deliver by first baby in their delivery branch (Hong Li Road), now i am checking about their VIP service, i heard it cost around 30K RMB, but for me it worth it if i can have a private labour room, with my husband being allowed to stay with me.
Thijs     | |2010-12-02 09:33:07
Hi Fanny, you are already very knowledgeable about the subject

She will this thursday for her checkup, so I guess not again 13-14. It's indeed a public hospital. The branch where she does checkups (see photo above) doesn't do the deliveries, those are indeed done at Hong Li road. A colleague of my wife just delivered her baby at a VIP room at Hong Li road. She said it cost about 20K RMB. If you deliver naturally, then I believe your husband can indeed stay with you. But if you go for a c-section, then obviously not. So I think we will decide at the last moment, when we know it will likely be a natural delivery. If it will be a c-section (we hope not), then most likely just go for a normal (1 person room). The Shenzhen Far East hospital near Dong Men ( ) also offers private rooms, not so much price difference I believe.
Mickael  - Other French   | |2011-04-26 16:33:23
Hi Fany,

I am Also French could you give me some info regarding the having a baby in China versus HK for the nationality... Ithink it coudl be the best option for us (mixt couple) easy to go everywhere...
Farhan  - From Pakistan   | |2011-06-06 18:33:54
Dear all ,

it is really informative post above.I am from pakistan and living in shenzhen and my wife who is also from pakistan is being pragrant for 5 months now. And i am looking someone with good english speaking to provide a guidance and help in regarding the giving birth of baby in shenzhen. Also i am very must intrested to find out if we can give brith of a baby in hk or not? why i raise this question is because like other country we holding pakistani passport if want to go to hk we need to get the visa first as i know many other countries to enter in hk does not require the visa they just give entry/visa on arrival thing. So i would be greatful if i can get some help and advice from your guys.

mary  - regards from a shenzhen mama   | |2011-06-18 15:54:03
hi, i am mary ,i just had my babyboy ,he is 5 months now,very cute and lovely,but not able to speak" mama "yet,i also watched your baby's video of speaking mama,he is so beautiful.
i am a ultrasound doctor of shenzhen far east hosptial,but maybe you didnt see me before ,because when you had baby in this hosptial ,i was just in my maternity leave.
i am so glad to see your baby is so clever,wondering how you teach him ,also i am happy to share my knowledge of maternity and baby wtih qq is 24430386 ,if you have any question ,add me qq,or send email to
Thijs  - Congratulations!     | |2011-06-18 19:46:11
Hello Mary, congratulations on your babyboy as well! We had a good time at Far East hospital. We just talk a lot to him in normal language, sometimes in English, sometimes Dutch and sometimes Chinese. Luckily "mama" sounds the same in all languages We also repeat the same word several times to him every day, so he can start to understand that mama is called "mama". Now he doesn't say mama so often anymore, but now he is trying to make lots of other sounds. I think every baby has its own speed though, ours seems to roll over more slower, but speak faster.
kane   | |2011-06-23 20:12:33
hi thijs i am new here i read your article i just wana ask you that we want a baby now and visit to this hospital.will you please tell me is the staff can speak english i am french and my wife also want a complete checkup about early pregnancy. reply me pls i am very greatful to you
Fanny  - french baby born   | |2011-08-09 12:47:45
Just to give some update news, our son was born on April 7, at Futian mother and child hospital in Hongli Lu. We were very lucky to get the VIP room, only 12 rooms and 500 women registered! So i had a natural delivery, after c-section for my first baby, doctors strongly suggested me to have another c-section, but i didn't want.
I delivered my baby in my room, my husband could stay with me always, which was really helpful. Both of us are french, so our baby is french. For mixt couple, with chinese mother, i am not sure how to get the french nationality... Whay i understand is that in China,the rule is baby will have the same nationality as the mother.
To reply Kane, no, no any doctor or nurse could speak english.
Finally, it was much better experience that the first baby because we could get the VIP room, it cost us 18,000 RMB package price, but really worth it.
Shams  - Getting your Baby Delivered   | |2011-12-08 11:30:06
Hello to all mothers to be - Congratulations!

Fanny by your message i understand that this hospital Futian mother and child hospital in Hongli Lu, seems to be a good one. We have been visiting this hospital for last 2 times as my wife is in her first Trimester.

I would like to know that if we do not know chinese language what complications can arise? As you know during delivery time it gets quite panicked and sometimes worse if you cannot make the doctors understand.

So i would like to have advice from you all people who have their own experiences that with English speaking couples how would it go in this Hospital?

Thanks for your replies.
Adeline  - to reply     | |2012-01-12 14:02:11
Hi Shams,

As Fanny, I'm French and I get my first baby in this hospital 2.5 years ago.
I was not able to speak Chinese (now I can) and during the check-ups, others mothers helped me to understand the question of nurses or doctors (it is the good point to be several peoples in the doctor's room).
I get a VIP room for natural delivery (with epidural) and globally it was fine (FYI, same price than Fanny). For really important questions during the delivery (and also after for the baby's vaccination e.g), they called an English-speaking doctor to translate and double checked that I understood what he said and the involvements.
Anyway, the communication was less than easy, but if you are naturally confident, it must be fine.

I'm pregnant again, so I went back to this hospital. Now, it seems really crazy for me : how I was able to understand them 3 years ago... but it was ok, just trust them and be confident, it's enough : they are really professional, no problem with that.


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 August 2010 )
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